WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Trump administration just can’t stop stepping on its own toes in responding to COVID-19. Today, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) announced a $336 million contract for 50,000 ventilators with GE/Ford with ventilators priced at about $6,720 each — more than twice the amount the administration could have paid for the machines in an earlier deal that failed to deliver.
According to reporting last night, the administration is also now paying companies up to eight times as much for N95 respirator masks as they would have paid in January or February. And after failing to deliver on an agreement for 10,000 ventilators last year, the production company Royal Philips N.V. made a new taxpayer-funded deal last week with the administration for 43,000 ventilators — at roughly $15,000, nearly quadrupling the cost per machine.
President Trump largely squandered two months of valuable preparation time at the beginning of the pandemic, ignoring warning after warning from administration experts and downplaying the threat of the virus to the public. Now, as health workers continue to struggle without an adequate supply of N95 masks to protect them, the government is racking up a hefty bill that it could have easily avoided to procure the supplies.
“From day one, the Trump administration has mismanaged its response to COVID-19, and now we are quite literally being forced to pay a premium for its mistakes,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “As if crippling our ability to respond over the past two years and then wasting valuable time in January and February — putting frontline health care workers in danger — wasn’t enough, now the Trump administration’s incompetence is squandering increasingly scarce resources that could be spent alleviating the economic hardships Americans are facing. The incompetence is staggering.”