Measures to counter this are among the many planning failures of the Federal and state governments, followed by failures to act. The first article I saw came from a video about China's failure to alert the world about the threat of COVID-19. One element was that in January, China had started using its overseas companies to buy up vast quantities of medical supplies -- masks, PPEs (Personal Protective Equipment), ... -- and shipping them to China. The news articles I found were published by the Sydney Morning Herald (Australia), but there were reports of the same behavior in Canada and Europe. From January 24 to February 29, they reported 2.02 billion masks and 25.38 million pieces of protective clothing worth billions of (Australian?) dollars being shipped. These were not just big lots -- the companies involved included property developers that mobilized their accounting departments to scour a wide range of distributors.(foot#2)
The most damning article I saw was "^I Spent A Day In The Coronavirus-Driven Feeding Frenzy Of N95 Mask Sellers And Buyers And This Is What I Learned^" by David DiSalvo - Editor's Pick in Forbes, 2020-03-30. (^archived^): "By the end of the day, roughly 280 million masks from warehouses around the U.S. had been purchased by foreign buyers and were earmarked to leave the country, according to the broker -- and that was in one day."
Details: The article cites a price of $6-7 for models 1860 and 8210 of 3M's N95 masks. At the beginning of the 2018 fire season, I bought the model 8210Plus for $0.70 each in a 20-pack (for myself, friends and my gardening).
The day covered by the article was one week before publication, and part of the article was about the frustrations of state officials being unable to make purchases at any price because their purchasing procedures were too slow. So how long before that was the problem known to officialdom?
Did any other US news outlets pick up the story? There was an article two days later in The Intercept that was so detailed that it likely had been being researched for some time.(foot#3) Although The Intercept is an important news source, it isn't a prominent one -- most of its work becomes visible by being cited elsewhere in the media. From what I can tell, the first after that wasn't a news outlet, but a commentator on Fox News Channel: "^3M is selling lifesaving PPE to foreign countries over US: Florida Official^", a segment on Tucker Carlson's 2020-04-02 show.
One of the routine duties of members of Congress is to help state governments with the Federal bureaucracy. Florida has two Senators (Republicans) and 27 House members (14/13 split), yet it appears that this official has gone on Cable News in an attempt to get some attention to this major problem. The problem isn't the lack of laws, but an apparent unwillingness of the Federal government to use them.
Aside: Since President Trump is reported to routinely watch the Tucker Carlson show, he is presumably now aware of the problem. However, bureaucracies are well-known for "slow walking" instructions from above. Thus the need for demands coming from multiple directions (Congress, even though it is on vacation).
Detail: Although the official declaration of an emergency includes provisions against price gouging, it is rarely used, and then mostly by local officials against local stores. Cynicism: At the level of those able to profiteer on the large scale, there is, of course, no enforcement (= no law) except for the occasional egregious incident that requires someone to be sacrificed to appease public outrage.
If you want an additional dose of outrage: "^Tucker Carlson blasts companies putting profits over Americans in time of crisis^" (7:38) on The Hill's morning show The Rising. This is a news and commentary hosted by a Progressive populist and a Conservative populist who work together well, typically leveraging off each other rather than being shouting bloviators. "Rising" is used in two senses: morning and counter the political establishment.
----My other blogs on coronavirus (COVID-19)----
"Is Palo Alto prepared for a Coronavirus outbreak?", 2020-01-30.
"Coronavirus (COVID-19): Underappreciated Unknowns & inexplicable failures", 2020-02-28.
"Preparing for COVID-19: An epidemic is not a hurricane. Panic buying harmful", 2020-03-03.
"COVID-19: Critiquing News Releases: What's missing + teachable opportunities", 2020-03-19.
"Remember the failures for when it's time for fixes: COVID-19", 2020-03-27
1. Contacting our members in Congress:
- ^Congresswoman Anna Eshoo^.
- ^Senator Dianne Feinstein^.
- ^Senator Kamala Harris^.
- Eshoo will be participating in a ^Telephone Town Hall 11am - Noon Sunday April hosted by County Supervisor Joe Simitian^.
2. Sydney Morning Herald articles on China stripping medical supplies from other countries
- The first article I could find was originally titled "Second Developer Flies 82 tonnes of medical supplies to China" indicating that there were earlier articles. The articles here are overlapping.
- "^Coronavirus Australia: Chinese owned property developer Risland flies more than 82 tonnes of medical supplies to Wuhan^" - The Sydney Morning Herald, 2020-03-26 (^archived^).
- "^Former Chinese military man behind export of tonnes of medical supplies^" - The Sydney Morning Herald, 2020-03-30 (^archived^).
- "^Billions of face masks sent to China during Australian bushfire crisis^" - The Sydney Morning Herald, 2020-04-02. ^archived^
3. "^Key Medical Supplies Were Shipped From U.S. Manufacturers to Foreign Buyers, Records Show^" by Lee Fang, The Intercept, 2020-04-01.
An ^abbreviated index by topic and chronologically^ is available.
----Boilerplate on Commenting----
The ^Guidelines^ for comments on this blog are different from those on Town Square Forums. I am attempting to foster more civility and substantive comments by deleting violations of the guidelines.
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If you behave like a ^Troll^, do not waste your time protesting when you get treated like one.