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Published On: Tue, Mar 24th, 2020

N95 Mask shortage linked to Obama administration, not restocking after H1N1 in 2009

Public health may be headed into crisis, in large part due to the shortage N95 respirator masks and new reports trace the problem back to over ten years, after the H1N1 outbreak.

Imagine de Gerd Altmann de la Pixabay

From the Washington Examiner:

“The national shortage of N95 respirator masks can be traced back to 2009 after the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, when the Obama administration was advised to replenish a national stockpile but did not, according to reports from Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times.”

The George W. Bush administration published the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza plan in 2005, which called on the federal government to distribute medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile governed by the Health and Human Services Department in the event of an outbreak.

In 2009, the H1N1 outbreak hit the United States, leading to 274,304 hospitalizations, 12,469 deaths, and a depletion of N95 respirator masks.

Now as the Chinese Coronavirus spreads in the U.S., the Trump administration is scrambling to replenish a stockpile of protective medical gear for healthcare workers and patients.

N95 respirator masks are one of the most needed medical supplies amid the outbreak.

The Examiner post states that “A federally backed task force and a safety equipment organization both recommended to the Obama administration that the stockpile be replenished with the 100 million masks used after the H1N1 outbreak.”

Charles Johnson, president of the International Safety Equipment Association, said that advice was never heeded.

“Our association is unaware of any major effort to restore the stockpile to cover that drawdown,” he said.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar reported last month that only 12 million N95 masks were available in the stockpile, “a tiny fraction of the 3.5 billion masks one of Azar’s deputies later testified the nation’s healthcare system would need,” the Los Angeles Times noted.

Bloomberg News reported similar findings last week, noting, “After the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009, which triggered a nationwide shortage of masks and caused a 2- to 3-year backlog [of] orders for the N95 variety, the stockpile distributed about three-quarters of its inventory and didn’t build back the supply.”

The Trump administration had asked construction companies to “donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders of those industrial masks” and the Defense Department would provide 5 million N95 masks and 2,000 ventilators to help bridge the gap.

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About the Author

- Writer and Co-Founder of The Global Dispatch, Brandon has been covering news, offering commentary for years, beginning professionally in 2003 on Crazed Fanboy before expanding into other blogs and sites. Appearing on several radio shows, Brandon has hosted Dispatch Radio, written his first novel (The Rise of the Templar) and completed the three years Global University program in Ministerial Studies to be a pastor. To Contact Brandon email [email protected] ATTN: BRANDON

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