More than once, President Donald Trump has falsely claimed that the federal stockpile of emergency medicine and supplies he inherited from his predecessor was an “empty shelf.”
While the government does not publicize all of the contents of the repository, at the time Trump took office, the Strategic National Stockpile, as it is formally known, reportedly contained vast amounts of materials that state and local health officials could use during an emergency, including vaccines, antiviral drugs, ventilators and protective gear for doctors and nurses.
…The Strategic National Stockpile was created in 1999, and, as of April 2, was described on a Department of Health and Human Services website as “the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.” [emphasis: Peanut Gallery]
(That description was later altered to say, “The Strategic National Stockpile’s role is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies.” The change was made after Trump’s son-in-law and White House adviser, Jared Kushner, said on April 2: “The notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
…[June 26, 2016] There are rows upon rows of ventilators that could keep sick or injured people breathing. Mabry explains that they’re kept in a constant state of readiness. “If you look down to the side you’ll see there’s electrical outlets so they can be charged once a month,” she says. Not only that—the ventilators get sent out for yearly maintenance.
In fact, everything here has to be inventoried once a year, and expiration dates have to be checked. Just tending to this vast stash costs a bundle — the stockpile program’s budget is more than half a billion dollars a year.
One of the reasons for the current supply shortage, she said: “We’ve allowed our own national capacity to manufacture things to degrade and in some places go away. And we’ve done that for cost-efficiency sake.”
She later added: “What we need is not a big stockpile. We need a new strategy. We need to use the technologies we have now to create the capacity to respond to something in close to real-time.”
That means being able to “rapidly design and manufacture what we need, when we need it, and the quantities demanded,” she said.