As far back as January 2020, several reports showed the Trump-led administration was at best, slow to respond to the dire needs of Americans. The matters arising were as a result of congressional testimony from federal officials, executives, and leaked internal memos. The call was for more procurement of N95 masks to protect both citizens and healthcare workers against the virus. However, this urgent appeal did not meet with a prompt response from appropriate quarters.
It was not until March that the Department of Health and Human Services made a significant move to buy large quantities of masks. Still, Mr. President did not officially ask for mass mask production until April, at which point, it could no longer meet the nation’s need. Several people have continued to voice their dissatisfaction with this response of the government.
However, towards the end of March, the US federal agencies sprung into action by spending voraciously to provide masks to citizens. Since then, large US corporations such as 3M and Honeywell have been saddled with the government order to provide more protective masks. In the past few weeks, the administration has ordered over $628 million worth of masks. But the question is, why did it take this long? And why did Donald Trump change his stance over the use of the N95 covers?
One hardly-spoken reason why the Donald Trump-led administration refused to make a large purchase was to prevent unnecessary panic in the global market. HHS pointed out that such action would have disrupted the global market supply. With the position of the US economy in the worldwide market, such a purchase would not have gone unnoticed. Besides, it would have had, in turn, in the worst-case scenario, a devastating effect on the US stature in the global market.
The Uniqueness of the N95 Respiratory Masks
The N95 respirators masks are the protective coverings for the mouth and nose, two of the first entries of the coronavirus into the body system. It is supposed that the regular use of the mask will effectively lower the risk of coronavirus infection. The N95 covers have a close fit to the face, which enables it to trap microscopic particles, including viruses, within their fibers through air filtering. Hence the government recommendation for citizens to protect themselves when outdoor.
The N95 masks are tools by health professionals when in close contact with highly infectious patients. However, the mask being able to trap contaminants in its fibers, it demands that they can be used only once and disposed of after that. Now, in response to the fast-rising demands of the government to produce more N95 masks, it is difficult to crank up production instantly. Furthermore, the dependence on an international supply limits control over its availability as hoarding can begin.
All the blame cannot, however, go to President Trump’s administration as past presidents were also aware of the limitation in the supply of the N95 mask. Besides, not many nations of the world had sufficient pandemic preparedness budget in place in the magnitude of what hit us.