Medical equipment market 'descends into chaos' as Trump insists it's not his problem
Doctors in surgery (Shutterstock)

President Donald Trump is still refusing to use the Defense Production Act to force private businesses to build badly needed medical equipment to combat the coronavirus pandemic -- and the Washington Post reports that it has created massive problems for states seeking medical supplies.

In particular, the Post reports that the medical equipment market has "descended into chaos" as states are competing with one another in "a mad scramble for masks, gowns and ventilators" to respond to the pandemic.

Desperate hospitals are asking sources such as "construction companies, nail salons and tattoo parlors" for masks and gloves, and are also considering using ventilators typically used for large animals to treat humans.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker describes to the Post how the completely decentralized process of buying equipment has set up a dog-eat-dog competition between states that only increases costs at a time of limited supplies.

"I called another manufacturer of ventilators, and he pointed out to me that I would be competing with countries other than the United States... I better put in as big an order as possible in order to put myself higher on the list of priority," Pritzker explained.

Rhonda Medows, president of population health management at Providence St. Joseph Health, tells the Post that she's been shocked at the lack of coordination in getting equipment out to hospitals.

“We have Third World countries who are better equipped than we are now in Seattle,” she said. “For weeks we have been asking the federal government to compel manufacturers to produce more because we knew from our own modeling that there would be a serious shortfall.”