Trump Administration Must Keep Bolstering America’s Medical Supply

By Ken Blackwell Published on April 8, 2020

The Wuhan coronavirus pandemic is one of the most dangerous health crises in history. As the virus spreads across America, thousands have died, and those numbers continue to grow. With most states on mandatory lockdowns, companies have been devastated, and millions of workers become unemployed every week.

President Donald Trump has shown the country that he is the tough leader America needs during this time of crisis. With the shortages of masks, medical supplies, ventilators, vitamins, and sanitizing equipment, our brave doctors and medical professionals are running out of supplies. Trump’s forward-thinking about China has been proven right, especially as we see the problems faced by outsourcing necessary medical supplies, which should be made by American companies.

Private Companies Help Meet Demand for Medical Supplies

Thankfully, private companies across all industries are working overtime to meet the unprecedented demand for medical supplies. Apple just announced they will be making one million face shields every week and is donating 20 million masks. Ford and General Motors are teaming up with 3M and GE Healthcare to use factories to produce desperately needed ventilators and face masks. And MyPillow has paused their pillow production to create 50,000 masks per day.

We now know that the virus spreads primarily through the touching of your face, which is why cleaning hands is essential, especially as many people infected do not show symptoms. In view of the hand sanitizer shortages, many private alcohol and spirits distillers have started to produce their own varieties to help meet the demand. Here in Ohio, Procter & Gamble, a leading maker of in-home cleaning products, has launched a new line of antibacterial cleaners, called Microban 24. And Akron, Ohio-based Gojo industries, which produces Purell, has expanded shifts and is operating 24 hours. Due to the desperate needs of hospitals, however, not enough can be manufactured to keep hand sanitizer on store shelves.

Leading the Charge

For the hand sanitizer shortage, Ohio Senator Rob Portman has led the charge which resulted in U.S. Trade Representative Bob Lighthizer to reverse a previous denial of tariff relief for Chinese-made pumphouses and e-collars used on Purell dispensers. Unfortunate trade deals from previous administrations are why this sort of outsourcing is so common, and production should ultimately be shifted to America. However, this tariff relief for Gojo will help maximize the immediate supply of life-saving hand sanitizer.

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The CDC has already advised Americans that handwashing and sanitizing are crucial to preventing the spread of disease-causing germs, which is why the Administration is beginning to facilitate the production of more sanitizer. It should provide as much assistance as possible to allow the private sector to meet demand.

We are already hearing that special interests and K Street lobbyists are lining up to get their piece of the next coronavirus relief package. Our government’s initial focus must be on tackling the virus itself. This means focusing spending on the production of preventative products like sanitizer and front-line supplies like protective equipment and ventilators.

America Can Alter the Virus’s Trajectory

America must think big! It is a nice story when a vodka distillery makes 10,000 bottles of sanitizer, but we need to empower large producers to manufacture the millions of bottles we need to stay safe.

In responding to the Wuhan coronavirus, President Trump is doing an impressive job. However, decisions made by government bureaucrats have made it impossible to keep our citizens safe without the involvement of private companies. As this deadly virus peaks, America must do whatever it can to allow those companies to produce the urgent ventilators, hand sanitizer, masks to meet unprecedented demands. With swift action, Congress can alter the virus’s trajectory and save lives.

 

Ken Blackwell is the Chairman of the International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES). He is the former Treasurer of the State of Ohio and former U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Human Rights Commission.

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