Lydia DePillis, Mike Spies, Joshua Kaplan, Kyle Edwards and Caroline Chen of ProPublica report that three days after Florida requested a cache of emergency supplies from the federal government to protect its medical workers against the novel coronavirus, the state got everything it wanted.
The Department of Health and Human Services has come under fire as several states’ requests for supplies from the emergency medical stockpile go unfulfilled. A chaotic distribution plan is buckling under a big problem: Nobody has enough.
Other states had only tiny slivers of their requests fulfilled, including some that had asked for them earlier than Florida. Oregon and Oklahoma received only about 10%; New Jersey got less than 6%.
This disparity has not been lost on the states that feel shortchanged in their requests from the Strategic National Stockpile, a trove of supplies managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.
Officials fear that hospitals will be overwhelmed by far more patients than they can safely treat if the current pace of infections continues. This month, officials estimated that if the outbreak lasts a year, the U.S. could need 3.5 billion of the N95 masks that protect health care workers. The national stockpile had only 12 million N95 masks and 30 million surgical masks on hand when the crisis began.
While it may appear like the federal government is playing favorites, federal officials said their decisions were based on their best assessment of relative needs. HHS told states this week that it is giving out 25% of the stockpile to states according to population size, and sending another 25% strategically to states with the most severe outbreaks, which can be used for needs such as testing passengers on cruise ships brought back to shore. The remaining 50% will be held in “strategic reserve,” to be used if there’s a huge spike of critical needs around the country.
Read the whole story here: https://www.propublica.org/article/heres-why-florida-got-all-the-emergency-medical-supplies-it-requested-while-other-states-did-not