• Hospitals in seven states say the federal government has been quietly seizing medical supply orders amid the coronavirus crisis, a Los Angeles Times investigation revealed April 7.
  • Officials and staff at the hospitals told the newspaper they never received guidance on why the materials were taken, where they went, or when they can expect replacement orders.
  • Government acquisitions have ranged from thermometers and testing kits to face masks, according to the LA Times.
  • A FEMA representative told the newspaper that “high-transmission areas were prioritized, and allocations were based on population, not on quantities requested.”
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Hospital officials are claiming the federal government are quietly seizing medical supply orders amid the coronavirus crisis, an investigation from the Los Angeles Times revealed April 7.

Staff from hospitals in seven states told the LA Times that they haven’t received guidance on why the materials are being taken, where they are going, or when they can expect replacement orders, according to the report.

The Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) had not publicly addressed why medical supply orders are being acquired by the federal government, but a representative told the newspaper that “high-transmission areas were prioritized, and allocations were based on population, not on quantities requested.”

The FEMA representative said the agency has developed a system to distribute supplies equitably, echoing the Trump administration’s assertion that the federal government is taking a “data-driven” approach to medical supply dispersal.

President Donald Trump also enacted the Defense Production Act – a law that allows the president to call for ramped up production of certain materials during a national crisis – to boost production of ventilators in the country.

Despite ramped up production, hospitals across the country still lack the medical materials they need

Nonetheless, an order for thermometers was taken away from a large medical system in Florida, the LA Times reported, and the state has at least 15,700 cases and 323 deaths.

A hospital system in Massachusetts told the LA Times they never received its order of masks as the state battles 16,790 cases and the death toll in the state surpasses 400.

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“In order to have confidence in the distribution system, to know that it is being done in an equitable manner, you have to have transparency,” Dr. John Hick, an emergency physician who helped develop national emergency preparedness standards, told the LA Times.

PeaceHealth, a 10-hospital system in Oregon, Alaska, and Washington state – where the first US coronavirus case was detected – had a shipment of testing materials seized.

“It’s incredibly frustrating,” PeaceHealth COO Richard DeCarlo told the LA Times. “We had put wheels in motion with testing and protective equipment to allow us to secure and protect our staff and our patients.”

“When testing went off the table, we had to come up with a whole new plan.”

Jose Camacho, head of the Texas Association of Community Health Centers, told the newspaper that an order of 20,000 masks was seized as primary care clinics are struggling to remain open due to PPE shortages.

“Everyone says you are supposed to be on your own, then to have this happen, you just sit there wondering what else you can do,” Camacho told the LA Times. “You can’t fight the federal government.”