Calling Trump: When connections help steer virus supplies


President trump who's told states to fend for themselves has had female blocking orders for vital equipment secured by governors some of them anyway so the government can buy them instead this week FEMA see is that in order for five hundred ventilators from a private company obtained by democratic Colorado governor Jared Paul is only to have trump give back a hundred of them at what he called the request of the state's endangered Republican senator Cory Gardner Thursday's Denver post editorial declared trump is playing a disgusting political game with our lives but the trump administration says it's got a plan and that it's working White House adviser Peter Navarro April second these guys up here doing a heck of a job organizing the supply chain well I think that's news to a lot of medical providers no I'm levy is a national health care reporter for the LA times trying to follow the cold pick nineteen supply chain I can't say I've talked to many hospitals or doctors offices or clinics around the country who feel that the supply chain is being managed in anything close to a rational way that's for sure and we can't seem to get answers from FEMA or the White House about what system if any is being used to balance the needs a couple weeks ago I was speaking with the head of the Texas academy of family physicians who working with the golfing buddy of his managed to in about a half million masks over the border from Mexico and then spent about seventy two hours getting them to rural hospitals and doctors offices around Texas because the state of Texas didn't have anything to distribute so you've got the system in which everybody's running around trying to get masks and ventilators and everything else and then on top of that is a totally opaque system of what appears to be haphazard intervention by the federal government on some supplies but not all of them everyone is completely perplexed we hear that trump is having no problem directing to Florida whatever Florida seems to need so zero which is the agency that is allegedly responsible for distributing supplies from the strategic national stockpile has claimed that they have some formula for distributing medical supplies that reflects states in large metro areas relative populations and the relative severity of corona virus outbreaks they are actually shipping things across the country however it's impossible to find out what that formula is whether or not allowances are being made in one way or another four criteria that have not been identified president trump hasn't been shy about claiming that he's willing to reward its friends and punish his enemies the conspiracy minded person might think well is there some nefarious method to how these supplies are getting distributed or not we just don't know what difference does it really make if we know or we don't know what the formula is for distributing this stuff this is taxpayer money that we're talking about private actors in the market of course don't have an obligation to be transparent about what they're doing because there's no expectation under normal circumstances that they're acting in the public interest we hope that the government is acting in the public interest but without transparency who knows who's accountable for this who's in charge is it rear admiral John Paul love check who's at the head of FEMA's coronavirus supply chain task force is it FEMA director Peter Gaynor is it Peter Navarro who is reportedly coordinating private and public sector communication maybe it's the Jared Kushner or the invisible hand is it really fundamentally the president and no one else you know without clear lines of authority things are not getting done as far as we know in a particularly efficient way nor do we know that however they're being done is being done in a lawful way frankly if for example the president's son in law is dialing up private companies and asking them to give support in one way or another to the supply chain challenges what assurances are being made to those companies about what they can expect I'm talking about promises that are made the company acts that if they help out that they'll be made whole in the end with they'll be reimbursed at a certain level without a process all of that is open to question is there a way to have an informed data driven approach to this as Jared Kushner said the federal government was engaged in if in fact the federal government isn't engaged in an informed data driven approach can big business small business health officials state officials do this on their own so the facts on the ground suggests that this can't happen on its own no that's not to say that there aren't a lot of efforts by individual actors some of them quite influential to play a constructive role I mean we've seen a number of large companies including apple for example say we are going to use our connections to the supply chain to procurer masks and we're going to distribute them the owner of the New England Patriots flew the patriots plane to China to go pick up a shipment of masks and flew back to Boston the problem is when you have this sort of thousand points of light approach to procuring and distributing needed supplies what ends up happening is that well connected medical centers that have relationships with large companies either because they do business with them or because they're located in their backyards are often times at the top of the list so for example sales force made a donation to the university California San Francisco Medical Center because they have a long standing relationship both being based in San Francisco does UCSF knew that equipment more than a hospital in New York City or New Jersey that's a lot to ask of sales force to try to make that determination they don't have any expertise in

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