On Saturday, writing for USA TODAY, Women's March official and manufacturing expert Bob Bland accused the Trump administration of diverting medical supplies her Masks for America organization had intended for medical workers.
"One month ago, as COVID-19 spread across the county and critical personal protective equipment (PPE) like masks, gloves, surgical gowns and face shields continued to be in short supply, I had hoped the government would do its job and act to meet this demand," wrote Bland. "But when news outlets reported that medical workers were being left vulnerable to infection without PPE, it was clear we couldn't wait for the Trump administration any longer. A small group of volunteers came together to found Masks for America and teamed up with leading health care activist Ady Barkan's Be A Hero Fund, Social Security Works and National Nurses United to get our front-line heroes the equipment they needed to stay safe as they saved lives."
"On April 11, during the peak of COVID-19 cases and deaths in New York City, the Federal Emergency Management Agency intervened and demanded orders of medical equipment allocated to our relief efforts be redirected to the federal government," she continued. "FEMA then seized 50,000 N95 respirators we had ordered without giving us an explanation or telling us where those respirators were going."
"In my 15 years of working in the manufacturing industry with international and domestic supply chains, I have never — never — had the federal government interfere like this," Bland wrote. "It wasn’t long before I realized it wasn’t only happening in New York and New Jersey ... Since those reports of FEMA quietly seizing materials, at least six states have lodged similar complaints against the federal government interfering with their supply chains."
"It is not illegal for the government to seize and distribute medical shipments through the Defense Production Act, yet our government has failed to be transparent with the public about how and why it is redistributing the resources of cities, states and private organizations like ours," wrote Bland. "The struggle to secure PPE and medical supplies isn’t just a failure of leadership in our government but also an unsustainable supply chain issue that has been bubbling just under the surface for years."
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