When it comes to government, history repeats itself again and again.
Remember the ventilator shortage? It wasn’t because we didn’t have them. It was because when there’s a crisis, governments frantically buy and stockpile them, and then junk them.
Here was the situation in 2020.
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…
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.
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.
This story is out of New York, but it captures the same cycle as all the emergency equipment from COVID is now being junked.
City officials auctioned off nearly $225 million worth of surplus COVID-19 medical equipment and safety gear for just $500,000 — or a paltry 0.2 cents on the dollar, according to a stunning report Tuesday.
The bargain-basement sales included nearly 3,000 mechanical ventilators that cost taxpayers $12 million but were unloaded as “non-functioning medical equipment for scrap metal” at a rock-bottom price of just $24,600 on Jan. 24, according to nonprofit news website The City.
It reportedly took 28 truckloads for a Long Island junk dealer to haul off the once-scarce devices, which former Mayor Bill de Blasio had predicted would help the Big Apple “beat this crisis and prepare for the next.”
“This is a story about doing the impossible,” de Blasio bragged on April 21, 2020. “We’d never made a ventilator before — and so we made thousands. We learned it would take a year — and so we did it in a month.”
What happened was entirely predictable.
One contract, for $9.1 million, reportedly went to controversial, New Jersey-based Digital Gadgets for ventilators that the company failed to deliver, then provided the city with N95 masks instead.
But the first masks it delivered were “poor quality or not FDA-certified,” even though the company charged $4 each while the average price was $3.10, according to Lander.
Digital Gadgets is owned by Charlie Tebele, a major donor to de Blasio and Gov. Kathy Hochul, who are both Democrats.
Last year, Tebele’s company was revealed to have charged the state $637 million — nearly twice the going rate — for COVID-19 test kits in a deal that critics have called “pay-for-play.”
State Senate Majority Leader Andrea Stewart-Cousins (D-Yonkers) said last month rejected Republican calls for an investigation, saying she took Hochul “at her word” that no wrongdoing was involved.
We’re an unserious and corrupt system run by unserious and corrupt politicians and special interests.
Faced with a crisis, they cash in under the guise of meeting the threat. Then having amassed a stockpile of dubious or legitimate equipment, they jettison it. Their donors generally cash in on both ends while taxpayers get screwed. And every time a crisis comes, the government is unprepared because it’s more lucrative to be unprepared than to be prepared.