The United States is dealing with acute shortage of Personal Protective Equipment amid mounting coronavirus infections and deaths this year.
According to a New York Times report, the young volunteer force recruited by US President Donald Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner, was handling the most serious tasks for the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA).
The report said that that volunteers in the administration ‘had little to no experience government procurement procedures or medical equipment’ and were tasked to secure safety gear for the medical staff across the US.
“The fumbling search for new supplies — heralded by Mr. Trump and Mr. Kushner as a way to pipe private-sector hustle and accountability into the hidebound federal bureaucracy — became a case study of Mr. Trump’s style of governing, in which personal relationships and loyalty are often prized over governmental expertise, and private interests are granted extraordinary access and deference,” said the report.
The report stated that the allies of the US president’s son-in-law, outside and inside the White House coronavirus task force, overridded the efforts by the federal officials who had adequate expertise in making emergency plans.
The pro-Kushner officials tried to overcome the shortage of medical gear with their ‘private-sector expertise’.
Citing example of the lack of experience of young volunteers, the article mentioned that the documents revealed that two volunteers gave green signal to a Silicon Valley engineer Yaron Oren-Pines, who claimed to provide 1,000 ventilators to the crumbling healthcare system.
In March, the federal officials forwarded the procurement forms to senior officials, who assumed that the process has been verified and awarded him a whopping $69 million contract.
In what turned out to be a major farce, not a single ventilator was provided while the officials scrambled to recover the money.
The report maintained that the volunteers, inducted from private equity firms, only complicated the government response to the pandemic at a very crucial point.
The publication questioned the US administrations’s rationale behind not utilizing the expertise of military and other agencies with logistics and procurement during the crisis.
The report said that two FEMA officials and one former member informed that the White House effort led to ‘missed opportunites’ to get safety medical gear from ‘legitimate sources’.
“In one case, Jeanine Pirro, the Trump stalwart and Fox host, repeatedly contacted task force members and FEMA officials until 100,000 masks were sent to a hospital she favored. Ms. Pirro did not respond to emails seeking comment,” said the report, alleging that some allies of Trump also took advantage from the FEMA.
Meanwhile, it emerged that the White House is set to disband the emergency task force handling the coronavirus outbreak.
Vice President Mike Pence said Tuesday that the emergency task force he heads will not be needed much longer than the end of this month.
The coronavirus task force has spearheaded the complex response to the fast-spreading virus, which has already killed about 70,000 Americans.