We can add another failure to the litany of failures, indifference and incompetence of the Trump administration in responding to (or even reacting to) the rapidly spreading COVID-19 pandemic. The Associated Press reports that newly obtained federal purchasing contracts show “federal agencies largely waited until mid-March to begin placing bulk orders of N95 respirator masks, mechanical ventilators and other equipment needed by front-line health care workers.”
Mid-March. Long after it was clear that the virus had already spread to the United States, was already threatening to overwhelm hospitals here, and long after events in China and in Italy demonstrated the likelihood of equipment shortages, rationing, and increased deaths. (California Gov. Gavin Newsom, for example, issued a statewide stay-at-home order on March 19.)
It was only then that the Trump-led federal government, after two months of Trump downplaying the virus and even members of Trump’s appointed coronavirus task force insisting it was “contained,”, took steps to acquire the sort of emergency medical equipment that hospitals were already warning were in short supply.