WASHINGTON, D.C. – A new NBC News report this afternoon revealed that the Trump administration paid top dollar for Battelle mask-decontamination systems that the NIH showed degrade N95 masks far quicker than Battelle claimed — leaving taxpayers on the hook for an extra $540 million than initially estimated and putting frontline workers at risk.
Accountable.US obtained internal emails further detailing the administration’s push for states to invest in Battelle’s faulty machines. An April 5th email from FEMA Deputy Federal Coordinating Officer Lon Biasco encouraged states including Idaho, Washington, and Oregon to invest in Battelle’s mask-cleaning machines at an initial cost of $1 million. Biasco called the Battelle system “a very quick return on investment” and urged the states to decide ASAP about obtaining one.
A subsequent email from Idaho Office of Emergency Management Director Brad Richy to a policy advisor in Governor Brad Little’s office sent April 14th alluded to a “recent update on pricing.” The emails also indicate that Idaho was in conversations with other western states to potentially share a Battelle system.
“When it comes to supplying PPE to those in need, the Trump administration has failed on multiple levels. It failed to maintain the national stockpile, failed to use the Defense Production Act to increase production in time, failed to help states procure their own PPE and failed to even give accurate advice to states,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Trump’s mismanagement of the crisis is wasting taxpayer money and has needlessly put the public in harm’s way.”