The Trump administration redirected a shipment of millions of masks to the veterans health care system to reup the national stockpile, The Washington Post reports.
Richard Stone, the executive in charge of the Veterans Health Administration, told the outlet that FEMA told vendors to send them the masks instead of the hospitals so it could add to the increasingly depleted national stockpile.
"I had 5 million masks incoming that disappeared," he said.
Some hospital systems have been forced to work with “austerity levels” of supplies due to dwindling resources.
"The supply system was responding to FEMA," he said. "I couldn't tell you when my next delivery was coming in."
The VA was able to obtain 500,000 masks after an appeal from Secretary Robert Wilkie to FEMA.
FEMA increasingly hijacking supplies:
Colorado Gov. Jared Polis recently told CNN that FEMA “swept up” 500 ventilators that the state had bought.
Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker said the agency “confiscated” the state’s order of 3 million masks.
“Either be in or out, folks,” Polis said. “Either you’re buying them and you’re providing them to the states and you’re letting us know what we’re going to get and when we’re going to get them, or stay out and let us buy them.”
Some states smuggle in supplies:
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker ordered millions of masks and gloves from China but refused to reveal the details "because we've heard reports of Trump trying to take PPE in China and when it gets to the United States," a source with knowledge of the situation told the Chicago Sun-Times.
Dr. Andrew Artenstein, the chief physician executive at Baystate Health in Massachusetts, literally smuggled in supplies.
"Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would take two distinct routes back to Massachusetts to minimize the chances that their contents would be detained or redirected," he said. "Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me. No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system's urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks.”