Photo: Justin Sullivan / Getty Images
San Francisco Mayor London Breed explained the city’s difficulties in acquiring personal protective equipment for local hospitals during a press conference on Friday, saying that orders from city officials for gowns and other items have been diverted to other countries and American cities.
San Francisco has successfully purchased 15 million pieces of PPE and received others from the federal government or from companies like Flexport and Facebook, but that is not enough.
“We had problems relocating our orders from our suppliers in China,” she said. “For example, we had isolation dresses on the way to San Francisco and they were diverted to France. We have had situations where things we ordered that went through customs were confiscated by FEMA for diversion to other places. We know that everyone faces a serious challenge. Thanks to customs, we have had situations where these items were taken and placed on the market for the highest bidder, opposing cities to cities and states to states. “
Breed’s statement echoed similar comments made by American political leaders in recent weeks on Friday. She added that the fact that she and other local and state governments must fight to secure PPE at this stage of the coronavirus epidemic “blows my mind”, but nevertheless wished that residents better understand why the process of purchasing these supplies was not easy.
“We wanted to make sure that when you hear about some of these challenges, you know why they are challenges,” she continued. “I know it should be much simpler: we have the money to buy PPE, why can’t we buy PPE? “
The frustration of the race is shared. Earlier this month, New York government Andrew Cuomo criticized current purchasing practices for acquiring these PPE and fans, saying that US states need a “national buying consortium “
“You can’t have the states compete with the states, and by the way, when the federal government buys the same equipment for their stock, now it’s 50 states competing with the states and the federal government competing with the states, “said Cuomo. “This is not the way to do business. “
As a result of the bidding war, the prices for necessary supplies increase – if these supplies are even available.
The process forced the city of San Francisco to improvise. As Breed says, “We get as creative as possible to get the resources to support our city. “
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Alyssa Pereira is a digital editor SFGate. Email: [email protected] | Twitter: @alyspereira