Lives Lost Needlessly

“We’re in deep s---. The world is, and we need to act.”

When he read that January email from a medical supplier, Rick Bright knew the US was heading for a crisis with the novel coronavirus, he testified on Capitol Hill yesterday, according to CNBC.

“Lives were lost” as US officials ignored his warnings and refused to boost N95 mask production, said Bright, former head of the US Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority. He says he was fired because he didn't support the Trump administration’s hydroxychloroquine treatment recommendations.

Even today, he says, US health workers are relying on N95 respirators procured abroad that don’t meet US safety standards—although yesterday the administration reported a plan to boost domestic production, according to The Washington Post.

Michael Bowen, vice president of a surgical mask producer, wrote the email that served as Bright’s wake-up call. He testified that he’s been warning federal officials for more than a decade of the shortages, NPR reports. He also backed Bright’s claim that some health workers are relying on poorly manufactured imported masks.
“Nurses are rushing into hospitals thinking they're protected and they're not,” he said, adding that he’s a “lifelong Republican” and is embarrassed by how the pandemic has been handled.

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