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Trump Commerce Department Pushes for America Last in Coronavirus Medical Supplies

February 28, 2020

***Press Release***

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

February 28, 2020

Contact: Kate Stotesbery

202-225-4865

 

Trump Commerce Department Pushes for America Last in Coronavirus Medical Supplies

Washington, D.C. – According to documents obtained this week by U.S. Representative Lloyd Doggett (D-TX), Chair of the House Ways and Means Health Subcommittee, the Commerce Department is encouraging businesses to take advantage of a temporary Chinese import incentive and pushing those U.S. companies to sell more of their medical supplies critical to a coronavirus response abroad. This comes, conflictingly, as Health and Human Services Secretary Azar testified about and the FDA raises the alarm about initial drug shortages and the pressing need to stock more protective gear, pharmaceuticals, and other critical medical supplies.

According to a document obtained by Rep. Doggett, on Wednesday the Commerce Department instructed (image file here) its officers to encourage U.S. businesses to export their medical supplies, including masks, to China and Hong Kong. This seemingly conflicts with HHS’s admission that it currently lacks enough masks. Among the products for export include even mask manufacturing machines. See internal notice from the Commerce Department here:

When Rep. Doggett questioned Sec. Azar yesterday about the shortage of N95 masks for medical professionals, given that many hospitals only had a week supply, Azar said: “We’re asking you to fund us buying masks,” underscoring the current lack of Administration preparedness. The United States has only 12 million N95 masks. Sec. Azar said in another hearing this week that 5 million of those masks currently in the United States are expired and no longer NIOSH certified.

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