California has lots of money to shovel into its municipal unions and social services complex. But it just wouldn’t pay for those ventilators and masks.
They were ready to roll whenever disaster struck California: three 200-bed mobile hospitals that could be deployed to the scene of a crisis on flatbed trucks and provide advanced medical care to the injured and sick within 72 hours.
Each hospital would be the size of a football field, with a surgery ward, intensive care unit and X-ray equipment. Medical response teams would also have access to a massive stockpile of emergency supplies: 50 million N95 respirators, 2,400 portable ventilators and kits to set up 21,000 additional patient beds wherever they were needed.
In 2006, citing the threat of avian flu, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the state would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a powerful set of medical weapons to deploy in the case of large-scale emergencies and natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and pandemics.
The state, flush with tax revenue, soon sank more than $200 million into the mobile hospital program and a related Health Surge Capacity Initiative to stockpile medicines and medical gear for use in outbreaks of infectious disease, according to former emergency management officials and state budget records.
And then the Democrats took over.
…in 2011, the administration of a fiscally minded Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, who came into office facing a $26-billion deficit.
That “fiscally minded” nonsense comes from the LA Times. There was plenty of money for all sorts of Dem priorities. Not for saving lives.
And so, that year, the state cut off the money to store and maintain the stockpile of supplies and the mobile hospitals. The hospitals were defunded before they’d ever been used.
No one wants to talk about it now.
Through a spokesperson, Brown, the former governor, declined to be interviewed for this story
With the funding cut, the state gave away some of the supplies and even considered disposing of what couldn’t be given away, Backer said. In the end, Backer said he’s not sure what happened to it all, and the California Department of Public Health did not answer questions about what became of the alternative care site supplies.
Assume that someone profited from them. That’s a safe bet.
At its height, the state’s stockpile held more than 50 million N95 respirators, but without continued funding, that supply dwindled. Some were used during California’s wildfires and not replaced, and others went past their expiration date. As the coronavirus arrived in California, that supply was down to 21 million.
In response to questions, the department said all 21 million are past their expiration date.
The department said it now had 900 ventilators “on hand,” but didn’t clarify what that means. That’s 1,500 fewer than the original stockpile.
Then-Assemblyman Bill Monning, a Democrat from Carmel, suggested the state should sell its unneeded medical equipment on eBay. “I say this not intending to be funny,” the Sacramento Bee quoted him as saying. Monning, now a state senator, did not respond to an interview request.
What exactly happened to the 2,400 ventilators isn’t clear. Several dealers who buy and sell used medical equipment said they recall many of California’s ventilators ended up being resold by hospitals and nursing homes to other dealers, who then likely shipped them out of the United States.
Any guesses as to how many ended up in China?