U.S. Federal Agencies prepping for worst-case scenario: The FBI has ordered $40,000 of hand sanitizer and face masks “in case the coronavirus becomes a pandemic in the United States,” according to the acquisition document. The bureau’s “pandemic preparedness” supply order includes face masks from manufacturer 3M and disinfectants, including hand sanitizer, from PDI Healthcare, the document said. In its purchase order, the FBI said it needs to have those items on hand if the coronavirus, or COVID-19, spreads widely throughout the U.S. The Trump administration last month declared the virus a public health emergency, but it’s not yet met world health officials’ designation of a global pandemic that spreads widely throughout the world.
The masks and disinfectants “are to be stored throughout the country for distribution in the event of a declared pandemic,” according to the document, which was signed Friday and gave the companies a week to fulfill the order. The document said the “supplies are for the FBI strategic stockpile for Pandemic Preparedness.” The FBI said PDI’s hand sanitizer and wipes were necessary because they kill “54 different microorganisms within 1 minute so this disinfectant has both speed and power.” The agency justified awarding the contract to PDI without a formal competitive bidding process because “they are the number one rated in healthcare because of this kill time.”
February 20, 2020 – BBC News Special: Experts warn the COVID-19 virus cannot now be contained – and now is the time to prepare for the inevitable global spread of a pandemic.
While $40,000 is just a fraction of the size of other contracts the FBI awards to private companies, the order illustrates how U.S. agencies are preparing for the possibility that the coronavirus could reach pandemic levels in the United States. “The FBI has actively been monitoring the coronavirus outbreak in Asia and is taking preemptive measures by procuring these items … now,” the document reads. The bureau added that it is making the purchase directly from manufacturers 3M and PDI rather than through retailers “because of the urgency of this request.” There are currently 15 confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The supplies are required to be delivered by Friday, according to the document. A spokeswoman for the FBI didn’t immediately comment on the contract or the agency’s preparedness for an outbreak in the U.S. Representatives from 3M and PDI Healthcare did not respond to requests for comment. “Due to the human life and safety component, these two brands are required,” the acquisition order said. “The items being requested will be critical to keeping employees safe should a coronavirus pandemic take place.”
Last week, CDC official Anne Schuchat urged U.S. hospitals to prepare for an outbreak in the U.S. “This is the time to open up your pandemic plans and see that things are in order,” she said. “For instance,” she continued, health-care providers need to plan for a “surge at a hospital, the ability to provide personal protective equipment for your workforce, the administrative controls and so forth that you might put place in a health care setting.” –CNBC
While the CDC is telling the American public not to buy masks, other U.S. Federal Agencies are doing just the opposite and are stocking prophylactic supplies in the event of a pandemic or epidemic outbreak in the U.S.
Feds sending mixed signals: The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says people in the U.S. shouldn’t wear face masks to prevent the spread of coronavirus, but that’s not the only reason Americans may want to think twice about using them, one expert told MarketWatch. Most people don’t know how to use face masks correctly, and a rush to buy masks could prevent the people who need them most — health care providers — from getting them, said Dr. Amesh Adalja, a scholar at the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health.
The CDC said last week it doesn’t recommend people use face masks, making the announcement on the same day that first case of person-to-person transmission of coronavirus was reported in the U.S. There were 11 confirmed cases in the U.S. as of Tuesday. “The virus is not spreading in the general community,” Nancy Messonnier, director of the Center for the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said in a Jan. 30 briefing. “We don’t routinely recommend the use of face masks by the public to prevent respiratory illness. And we certainly are not recommending that at this time for this new virus.” –Market Watch