As the coronavirus is raging through the United States, President Donald Trump has begun releasing personal protective equipment from federal stockpiles as well as much-needed ventilators. Unfortunately, however, one in five ventilators from the government don’t work.
The New York Times reported Wednesday that there are 10,000 ventilators that the government is holding back for the next wave of the emergency.
“But what federal officials have neglected to mention is that more than 2,000 of the lifesaving devices are unavailable after the contract to maintain the government’s stockpile lapsed late last summer, and a contracting dispute meant that a new firm did not begin its work until late January. By then, the coronavirus crisis was already underway.”
It became known when the Department of Health and Human Services was hit with questions from stat officials noting that the ventilators are not operational.
“In fact, the contract with a company that was maintaining the machines expired at the end of last summer, and a contract protest delayed handing the job to Agiliti, a Minneapolis-based provider of medical equipment services and maintenance,” said The Times. “Agiliti was not given the $38 million task until late January, when the scope of the global coronavirus crisis was first becoming clear.”
No one knows whether the problems with the equipment happened before or after the contract lapsed but there was no maintenance of the machines after the contract ended.
“We were given a stop-work order before we’d even started,” said Agiliti CEO Tom Leonard. “Between the time of the original and the time of this contract award, I don’t know who was responsible or if anybody was responsible for those devices. But it was not us.”