Putting pressure on US companies like 3M is important. But the first step is an export ban to prevent masks and other PPE gear from leaving this country. It’s easiest to get hold of protective equipment sitting in the United States.
New York, New Jersey, and other states are now preparing to seize masks and ventilators. That’s going to accelerate efforts to quickly sell and ship masks and other gear out of this country.
It’s a very predictable pattern. And it’s been going on all along.
The data show how U.S. manufacturers stepped up production and cleared out inventory to supply protective medical equipment to China for weeks, even as the threat of the coronavirus became clear. The CDC reported its first case in the United States on Jan. 20.
American companies sold more than $17.5 million worth of face masks, more than $13.6 million in surgical garments and more than $27.2 million in ventilators to China during the first two months of the year, far exceeding that of any other similar period in the past decade, according to the most recent foreign trade data available from the U.S. Census Bureau.
The U.S. exported more than $1.7 million worth of surgical masks to China in January alone – more than double the previous January. In February, shipments surged to $15.8 million, the data show.
Jesse Wang, co-founder of LuggEasy, a company that provides shipping services to Chinese residents in the U.S., confirmed the surge of masks exports in February. His company exported 14,000 to 15,000 pounds of masks from the U.S. to China in early 2020 alone.
At a retail price of roughly 50 cents a mask – which is likely higher than what wholesale customers would have paid – that meant more than 31.6 million surgical masks were shipped to China during the second month of the year, based on the trade data.
Ventilators, too, saw a spike. The U.S. exported $11.4 million worth of the breathing machines to China in the first two month of last year compared with $27.2 million in the first two months of this year, just weeks before states and hospitals started begging the federal government to send them more.
We’ve learned to expect very little from some companies that are American in name only. This is why we need an export ban.
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