The Trump administration forced states to bid eBay-style for masks and ventilators, according to an explosive new documentary
Trumpadministration failed to address major mask and equipment shortages during the first few months of the pandemic.
- States were forced to bid against each other for supplies in March and April, according to a new documentary about the government's
- New York Gov. Andrew
Cuomocompared the bidding war to "being on eBay."
- The documentary, "Totally Under Control," is now streaming on Hulu.
One of the most powerful moments in "Totally Under Control," a new documentary about the US government's coronavirus response, is Mike Bowen's testimony before Congress.
At a House hearing on May 14, Bowen, a Texas mask manufacturer, described how federal officials ignored his repeated warnings about mask shortages. The entire country was suffering the consequences, he said."I'm getting 500 to 1,000 emails a day," Bowen said. "I'm getting emails from moms, I'm getting emails from old people: 'Please, send me masks.'"
By then, nearly 100,000 Americans had died.The documentary in which the testimony is included was made in secret over five months and began streaming Tuesday on Hulu. Directed by Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger, the film comes from Jigsaw Productions, which finished putting it together on October 1, the day before President Trump announced he'd tested positive for COVID-19.
Bowen, a veteran of the medical supply industry, knew that the US did not have enough N95 masks to manage a pandemic, according to the documentary. So he emailed the US Department of
More than a month later, many US hospitals were dangerously low on
States were forced to bid against each other for limited supplies, driving up the prices of equipment and increasing profits for the private companies that had imported them, according to the documentary.
"It's like being on eBay with 50 other states," New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said at a press briefing on March 31.
Increasing profits for private companiesThe bidding war increased profits for foreign manufacturers and forced taxpayers to cover the extra cost. In many cases, Americans had to pay up to 10 times more than the price that local producers would have charged, according to the new film.
"I got a feeling that if somebody has a chance to sell to you or has a chance to [sell to] me, I'm going to lose every one of those," Baker said.Trump laughed.
"Well, we do like you going out and seeing what you can get, if you can get it faster," Trump said. "And price is always a component of that also. And maybe that's why you lost to the feds."By the end of March, it was clear the government's free-for-all strategy wasn't working. So Jared
"In my time on the task force, our team did not directly purchase a single mask," Kennedy said.
Eventually, FEMA procured additional PPE and sent it to states. But shortages of PPE and other medical supplies persisted across the US for months."It is hard to believe that our nation finds itself dealing with the same shortfalls in PPE witnessed during the first few weeks that SARS-CoV-2 began its unrelenting spread," Susan R. Bailey, president of the Journal of the American Medical Association, wrote at the end of August.
She added: "But that same situation exists today, and in many ways things have only gotten worse."
This story was originally published on October 14. It has been updated with new information.
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