TheHill reports San Francisco Mayor London Breed (D) said Friday that her city’s orders for personal protection equipment (PPE) have been diverted to other U.S. cities and foreign countries.
“We’ve had issues of our orders being relocated by our suppliers in China,” she said at a press conference. “For example, we had isolation gowns on their way to San Francisco and they were diverted to France. We’ve had situations when things we’ve ordered that have gone through Customs were confiscated by FEMA to be diverted to other locations.
“We know everyone is dealing with a serious challenge,” she continued. “Through Customs, we’ve had situations where those items have been taken and put out on the market for the highest bidder, putting cities against cities and states against states.”
Breed said San Francisco has purchased 15 million pieces of PPE and received other tools from the federal government but still does not have the equipment necessary to adequately combat the coronavirus outbreak in the city.
“We wanted to make sure as you hear about some of these challenges, you’re aware of why they are challenges,” she said. “I know it seems as though it should be a lot simpler: We have the money to purchase the PPE, why can’t we purchase the PPE?”
Breed’s remarks come as states scramble, and in some cases compete, for PPE from the federal government and other sources. The mayor said the fact that states are still lacking equipment so deep into the outbreak “blows my mind.”
The availability of PPE has led to an avalanche of criticism from mayors and governors across the country who say the federal government needs to do a better job of making equipment accessible.
“You can’t have the states competing against the states, and then by the way, when the federal government goes out to buy the same equipment for their stockpile, now it’s 50 states competing against the states and the federal government competing against the states,” New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D), whose state is the epicenter of the U.S. pandemic, said earlier this month. “This is not the way to do business.”