Repeated Warnings from Feds About Lack of Ventilators Fell on Deaf Ears Under Bush, Obama

In a May 6, 2009 file photo a store attendantholds an N-95 mask over a box of disposable surgical masks in Manila, Philippines. Health workers caring for patients who have or may have swine flu should wear a special type of mask called an N95 respirator, not looser-fitting surgical masks, …
AP Photo/ Pat Roque/file

U.S. federal government officials reportedly warned the administrations of former Presidents George W. Bush and Barack Obama multiple times between 2003 and 2015 that a viral outbreak like the one currently afflicting the United States would prompt a shortage of ventilators and other critical lifesaving medical supplies in hospitals across the country.

The Bush and Obama administrations knew the medical supply chain in the United States was ill-prepared to handle a pandemic. Still, they failed to heed the multiple warnings from several federal government agencies that called on them to make changes and rectify the problems.

A CNN investigation found that at least ten reports issued by the several federal agencies under Bush (7) and Obama (3) cautioned about the risks of a prospective lack of supplies amid an outbreak.

CNN also highlighted one other report that made similar warnings — issued by the National Institutes of Health and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention — under President Donald Trump in June 2017.

Several U.S. agencies issued the reports that warned about the potential lack of medical supplies, including the Government Accountability Office, the Congressional Research Service, and Congressional Budget Office, all three considered investigative arms of Congress. The Departments of Health and Human Services, Defense, and Interior also wrote some of the reports.

On Sunday, the New York Times also acknowledged that “the U.S. tried to build a fleet of new ventilators” under Bush but “the mission failed.” The federal government started over under the Obama administration in 2014, but that effort also failed to yield any results.

The Times explained that 13 years ago, under the Bush administration, “money was budgeted. A federal contract was signed. Work got underway,” adding:

And then things suddenly veered off course. A multibillion-dollar maker of medical devices bought the small California company that had been hired to design the new machines. The project ultimately produced zero ventilators.

That failure delayed the development of an affordable ventilator by at least half a decade, depriving hospitals, states and the federal government of the ability to stock up. The federal government started over [under the Obama administration] with another company in 2014, whose ventilator was approved only last year and whose products have not yet been delivered.

Early last week, Democrat Gov. Andrew Cuomo claimed that New York, considered the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak in the U.S., did not have enough ventilators to deal with the crisis effectively, adding that the federal government was not sending enough of them to his state.

Last Friday, however, Cuomo conceded that his state did have a stockpile of unused ventilators. Earlier this month, Cuomo also indicated that people in New York were stealing medical equipment from hospitals.

Trump has said that it is unlikely New York will need all the additional ventilators Cuomo is requesting. The president has blasted Cuomo for opting against the purchase of thousands of ventilators in 2015.

“Ventilators typically cost at least $15,000, and though any major hospital would have more than two, they have historically kept on hand only what is needed to serve patients in conditions outside of a pandemic,” CNN pointed out.

At the behest of Trump, major American companies, including Ford and General Motors, are expected to manufacture thousands of additional ventilators.

Although the CNN article noted that warnings about the prospective lack of medical supplies amid a viral outbreak date back to Bush’s administration, the news network does not once mention Obama.

Instead, CNN insinuated that it is Trump’s fault that the country does not have enough ventilators and other essential medical supplies.

The network used its article to take a shot at Trump. Repeated warnings by the feds undermine the sitting commander-in-chief’s “claim last week that ‘nobody in their wildest dreams’ could have imagined the demand for ventilators that now exists,” CNN claimed.


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