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Over the weekend, the Washington Post reported that the United States shipped millions of dollars worth of PPE to China early this year, “with encouragement from the federal government.” Even as COVID-19 cases were being reported in the United States, the Commerce Department published a flier with guidance on how to sell PPE to China. Now, the supply shortage has forced nurses and doctors to ration masks and governors to bid against each other to procure the level of equipment they need to keep their state safe.
Cal Cunningham responded to the reports Saturday with a tweet reiterating his call for an investigation into the matter.
Last week, Cal demanded an investigation into why 18 tons of PPE and other critical supplies were sent to China, when North Carolina is facing its own supply crisis at home. He sat down with WBTV for an interview last week to emphasize the importance of an investigation to gain clarity from the federal government, and a path forward to making sure North Carolina has the resources it needs.
The lack of PPE continues to be a major concern, as Governor Cooper and others plan the path to reopening the economy. Without ample PPE, Governor Cooper says the state will not be able to provide the amount of tests needed to begin reopening the economy.
What states across the country are facing now is a direct impact of this Administration’s failure to prepare for the threat of the coronavirus. Cal Cunningham is demanding answers for North Carolinians.
Read the article below.
By Juliet Eilperin, Jeff Stein, Desmond Butler and Tom Hamburger – April 18, 2020
U.S. manufacturers shipped millions of dollars of face masks and other protective medical equipment to China in January and February with encouragement from the federal government, a Washington Post review of economic data and internal government documents has found. The move underscores the Trump administration’s failure to recognize and prepare for the growing pandemic threat.
In those two months, the value of protective masks and related items exported from the United States to China grew more than 1,000 percent compared with the same time last year — from $1.4 million to about $17.6 million, according to a Post analysis of customs categories which, according to research by Public Citizen, contain key PPE. Similarly, shipments of ventilators and protective garments jumped by triple digits.
While the percentage increase of exports to China was steep, they represent a small fraction of the overall U.S. need. Throughout the country, the shortage has forced hospitals, nursing homes and first responders to ration masks and other protective gear as they treat infected and high-risk patients, creating a secondary health crisis among first line providers.
In the early days of the covid-19’s exponential march across the globe, when it was still mostly contained in China, there was no widespread sense of crisis in the White House. But by the end of January, briefings to White House national security staff made clear that the danger of a major pandemic was real. By then seven Americans had fallen ill, and experts said the need for an adequate supply of protective gear should have been apparent.
Nonetheless, on Jan. 30, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross said on Fox Business that the outbreak could “accelerate the return of jobs to North America” because companies would move factories away from impacted areas.
On Feb. 26 — when total deaths had reached 2,770, nearly all in China — the Commerce Department published a flier titled “CS China COVID Procurement Service,” guiding American firms on how to sell “critical medical products” to China and Hong Kong through Beijing’s fast-tracked sales process. Doggett obtained the flier and other Commerce communications.