Hospitals, military bases, and clinics across the nation are fighting against medical supply shortages – the supplies necessary to handle patients in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Many are ill-equipped for the surge of people with symptoms, or even the surge of people who need to be quarantined.
Defense Production Act
Trump invoked a law left over from the Cold War -the “Defense Production Act” on Friday, March 20, in an effort to boost the amount of medical supplies. It takes a while to revamp industry production, but it will happen. The Hill reported,
Hospitals, health workers and state and local officials have said they are quickly running out of personal protective equipment like masks, gowns and gloves, as well as ventilators.
The act allows the government to force private businesses to prioritize government contracts. The administration could also require U.S. manufactures to make additional “critical materials and goods” and offer loans or guarantees to buy them.
Medical Supply Shortages
We received a note from a hospital worker who told us:
“Hospital staff is now rationing all masks. I wore the same fucking mask for 12 hours yesterday to do 5 surgeries. We do not have enough masks to work another week. Nurses are cutting up home AC filters and putting them in their masks. This is the craziest shit I’ve ever seen in a first world hospital. This should never happen again! Fuck China and their China Virus. We need to build big ass factories and start producing everything in house. Americans need to wake the fuck up. China controls almost all of our supplies for healthcare. Moral [sic] in hospital is still high. It’s funny how when you hack Americans into a corner we get stronger. I love my coworkers and God Bless America. We gonna kick this virus’ ass!”
Meanwhile, not only are medical supplies needed in the Military, but the US military is facing issues of quarantine for military personnel returning to America from duty overseas. One gentleman told us that his daughter, a military nurse, needed more medical supplies, but was told only the doctors could have the extras.
Stripes reported the problem with returning soldiers at Fort Bragg and Fort Bliss:
“When their planes landed at Fort Bliss, Texas, they were herded into buses, denied water and the use of bathrooms, then quarantined in packed barracks, with little food or access to the outdoors. “This is no way to treat Soldiers returning from war,” one soldier said in an email.
The soldiers posted notes on social media about the poor conditions. Their complaints got quick attention from senior Army and Pentagon leaders. Now changes are under way at Fort Bliss and at Fort Bragg in North Carolina, where the first soldiers placed under quarantine also complained of poor, cramped conditions.
Quarantining troops on military bases is becoming a greater challenge for military officials. While continuing missions and training, they also have to try to prevent the spread of the highly contagious coronavirus by enforcing two-week quarantines of soldiers who have spent months overseas.“
As the quarantine days progressed, the Army got better at making the quarantine work, because leaders listened to the complaints. But it’s still a daunting task – and with medical supplies being needed on top of it, the task is herculean.
The Defense Production Act should eventually help, as well as other companies revamping their production to assist in getting needed supplies to the right places. Ford and GM stated they would be making ventilators for hospitals while their vehicle production is down.
The hospital employee who sent us the note is correct: “We gonna kick this virus’ ass!”
Featured photo: “Air crew from Travis Air Force Base and the 164th Airlift Wing unload COVID-19 testing swabs at the Memphis Air National Guard Base,” via Air Mobility Command