How face masks supplies in America suddenly disappeared: “Magic is nothing more than misdirection. It’s making you look in the wrong place at the right time.” -Burgess Meredith, Magic
The critical shortage of medical supplies across the U.S., including testing swabs, protective masks, surgical gowns and hand sanitizer, can be tied to a sudden drop in imports, mostly from China, The Associated Press has found. Trade data shows the decline in shipments started in mid-February after the spiraling coronavirus outbreak in China led the country to shutter factories and disrupted ports. Some emergency rooms, hospitals and clinics in the U.S. have now run out of key medical supplies, while others are rationing personal protective equipment like gloves and masks. The United States counts on receiving the vast majority of its medical supplies from China, where the coronavirus has infected more than 80,000 people and killed more than 3,200. When Chinese medical supply factories began coming back on line last month, their first priority was their own hospitals.
The government required makers of N95 masks to sell all or part of their production internally instead of shipping masks to the U.S. The most recent delivery of medical-grade N95 masks arrived from China about a month ago, on Feb. 19. And as few as 13 shipments of non-medical N95 masks have arrived in the past month — half as many as arrived the same month last year. N95 masks are used in industrial settings, as well as hospitals, and filter out 95% of all airborne particles, including ones too tiny to be blocked by regular masks.
Governors across the country are becoming panicked as states run out of equipment. President Donald Trump has urged them to buy masks on the open market, but few if any are available. “Without adequate protection, more of our hospital staff could become ill, which would mean there wouldn’t be people to care for patients,” said Nancy Foster, the American Hospital Association’s vice president of quality and patient safety policy. Some hospitals are down to just a day or two of personal protective equipment, she said. The AP found that in the past month, hand sanitizer and swab imports both dropped by 40%, N95 mask imports were down 55%, and surgical gowns, typically sourced from China, were at near normal levels because the sourcing was shifted to Honduras. –ABC News
How America cut its own throat: U.S. medical product manufactures sold out to China for quick cash – and left the American medical community out in the cold. Again, Trump’s gross incompetence for not nationalizing these companies or evoking Federal powers to retain all manufactured products in the U.S. at the onset of the coronavirus outbreak in China.
Doctors reusing masks between patients. Nurses going to work, even if they’ve been exposed to the novel coronavirus, to meet demand. And if their supplies run out — staff having to replace face masks with bandanas or scarves. That is what hospitals in the United States, facing a surge of coronavirus patients, could look like as the pandemic worsens, according to contingency plans released by US health officials.
These kinds of measures, designed to keep up with an influx of patients, are outlined in guidance issued by the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. They reflect a growing crisis in hospitals across the United States: There are too many patients, doctors say, and not enough resources to treat them. “It hasn’t even really hit us yet, and we’re already facing crisis proportions in the hospital,” said one anesthesiologist in Boston, who spoke on the condition of anonymity out of concern for his job. “I foresee a day very soon when we’re not going to have what we need to take care of ourselves,” he added. “I mean, in a way we already don’t.” –CNN
How did we get here?
America’s self-secured soap bubble is bursting: After many Americans donated face masks to China to aid in the fight in Wuhan, China and most Asian countries banned the export of face masks and other PPE. Ironically, all the Asian countries where most of its citizens wear face masks – these same countries also have the lowest numbers of fatalities from COVID-19. Below, are just a few examples of US face mask donations to China. Perhaps, Americans were too naive to think such supplies would ever one day be critically needed in their own country.
Filed January 27, 2020: While Americans slept through what was unfolding in China, face masks were bought in bulk in the U.S. by many Asian customers as early as January, and were shipped back to China.
EU leaves U.S. to its own peril: The European Commission has said bans or restrictions on the export of protective equipment by EU member states risk undermining collective efforts to contain the coronavirus. This comes as other member states prepare to follow France and Germany in implementing measures to restrict the free circulation of protective equipment as the spread of the coronavirus across the continent continues. On Thursday, US trade and manufacturing adviser Peter Navarro said such moves had left the US “alone” in tackling the outbreak. –Financial Times
French confiscate face masks bound for the UK: But French border guards impounded the trucks after realizing what was on board. They were acting on President Emmanuel Macron’s pledge to “requisition” all masks for his country’s fight. The seizure came just 24 hours after another British-bound vehicle carrying thousands of bottles of hand sanitizer was also held up on the other side of the Channel.
UK officials were quickly alerted to both incidents. And after tense, top-level talks, the lorries were allowed to leave with all supplies on board. A government source said: “On Tuesday night, French authorities stopped the hand sanitizer and confiscated the lot. “On Wednesday night, it was lorries full of FFP3 face masks to protect staff.” –The Sun March 20, 2020
Asia now looks safer than America: In Asian countries that initially faced the gravest risk from the coronavirus, the shambolic U.S. response to the pandemic has elicited confusion, horror and even a measure of pity. Suddenly, it seems, the U.S. is the basket case, an aloof, inward-looking power that had already weakened its alliances, failed to lead on global emergencies such as climate change and shrunk in a crisis. – Yahoo News