The Government Is Failing by Doing Too Little, and Too Much - Bio-Defense Network
Mar 2020

The Government Is Failing by Doing Too Little, and Too Much

Conor Friedersdorf writes in the Atlantic that underinvestment in America’s public health infrastructure and governmental red tape have hindered the country’s response to the coronavirus.

He writes that the united states is performing more poorly than it should in the present crisis, even apart from the actions and rhetoric of President Trump, for at least two distinct reasons: underinvestment in public-health infrastructure and unduly onerous government regulations.

That first category of error has received far more attention, he writes. To cite one example of many: the Bush administration noted in its “National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza,” released in 2005, that if an infectious disease spread across the nation, federal officials planned “to distribute medical countermeasures … from the Strategic National Stockpile and other distribution centers to federal, state and local authorities.” According to the Los Angeles Times, the Strategic National Stockpile shipped out roughly 100 million N95 masks to protect doctors and nurses during the 2009 swine-flu epidemic, prompting a task force to urge the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services to replenish the supply.

Yet last month, the newspaper reported: “Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said that available supplies included just 12 million N95 masks and 30 million surgical masks, a tiny fraction of the 3.5 billion masks one of Azar’s deputies later testified the nation’s healthcare system would need.” The Washington Post reported similar figures, adding that the strategic reserves had not been significantly replenished because “with a limited budget of about $600 million annually, officials in charge of the stockpile focused on what they say was a more pressing priority: lifesaving drugs and equipment for diseases and disasters that emerged before the new coronavirus.” Doctors, nurses, and patients will die during this pandemic because of the inadequate stockpile.

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