Many states have requested ventilators, N95 face masks, gowns, face shields, and other essential equipment from the federal emergency stockpile as their hospitals prepare for or struggle under a surge of COVID-19 cases, but only Florida has gotten 100 percent of what it asked for, The Washington Post reported Sunday. Massachusetts said it has received 17 percent of its requested protective gear while Maine has gotten about 5 percent and West Virginia about 1 percent.
But Florida, which didn't make its first request until March 11 — later than many other states — received its full request three days later, then got an identical shipment on March 23 and is expecting a third, the Post reports, citing the state Division of Emergency Management. "This disparity has not been lost on the states that feel shortchanged in their requests from the Strategic National Stockpile," ProPublica reported a week ago. Florida officials and President Trump offered a similar explanation for what appears to be special service.
"The governor has spoken to the president daily, and the entire congressional delegation has been working as one for the betterment of the state of Florida," Jared Moskowitz, director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management, told the Post. "We are leaving no stone unturned." On Sunday, Trump said at a news conference that "Florida has been taken care of," along with other states, adding later: "Florida, I looked, they're very aggressive in trying to get things and they're doing a very good job." Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who has been criticized for keeping the beaches open during Spring Break, is a close ally of Trump. Florida is also Trump's new home of record.
Control over the Strategic National Stockpile passed from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) to a different Health and Human Services Department division in late 2018 and then to the Federal Emergency Management Agency barely a week ago. FEMA has, but won't detail, a spreadsheet of each state's requests and shipments, the Post reports, and there doesn't seem to be a uniform rationale for how the limited stockpiles are allocated. "If a governor jumps up and down and yells and screams, it gets attention," Nicole Lurie, a former HHS emergency preparedness official in the Obama administration, tells ProPublica. "It probably helps to have a really loud megaphone."
More stories from theweek.com
Fox News reportedly fears its early downplaying of COVID-19 leaves it open to lawsuits
CDC is weighing advising Americans to wear face masks outdoors
Trump's message to blue states battling coronavirus: Drop dead