Sunday, April 5, 2020

Literary Corner: Our Bodies, Our Shelves


by Donald J. Trump
We have a stockpile. It is a
federal stockpile. We can use it
for states, or we can use it for ourselves.
We do use it for the federal government.
We have a very big federal government.
This is apparently a comment on Jared Kushner's interesting statement explaining why the federal stockpile of medical products shouldn't be distributed to the states that need them:
"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," he said. "So we're encouraging the states to make sure that they're assessing the needs, they're getting the data from their local situations, and then trying to fill it with the supplies that we've given them."
Which seemed so peculiar, because, you know, where is the place that isn't in the states where it's meant to go?

Is it a special stockpile for DC, Puerto Rico, and Guam? That isn't traditionally the case; as you can see from the chart above, it's been used in 11 of the 20 years since it was founded in 1999, in some 60 interventions in those places plus all sorts of states, including Texas, Ohio, New Jersey, New York, Louisiana, North Dakota, Florida, Kentucky, Mississippi, and more.

Of course that only takes us up through 2017, before the Trump administration moved responsibility for the Strategic National Stockpile out from under the Centers For Disease Control umbrella to the office of the Assistant Secretary For Preparedness and Defense, and it wasn't used at all since, until the pandemic; not for the "1000-year floods" of Hurricane Florence in North Carolina in 2018 or the public health emergency of the California wildfires of 2018 and 2019. Was that what taking it away from CDC was about in the first place, ensuring that they shouldn't send their stuff anywhere? Is that what Kushner was talking about?

I found some interesting coverage of the debate over the stockpile in a story by Lena Sun/Washington Post in April 2018:
But some public health officials and members of Congress in both parties worry the move will disrupt a complex process that relies on long-standing relationships between the federal program and the state and local agencies responsible for distributing the medicine. During a congressional hearing last week, lawmakers expressed concern that a change could risk the government’s ability to deliver lifesaving medical supplies to what public health officials call “the last mile” — to people in need during a disaster.
“You have spent years planning and exercising and training because you need to know what to do if 100,000 doses of Cipro showed up in your state,” said Ali Khan, who used to oversee the program and now is dean at the University of Nebraska Medical Center’s College of Public Health. “How would you get it out? Who would dispense it? These parts are as critical as maintaining the medicines in pristine condition.”
He and other public health experts also question whether the administration’s plan will politicize decision-making about products bought for the stockpile.
I don't know, but the Pandemic and All-Hazards Preparedness Act of 2019 doesn't seem to have anything to say about that extra mile from the stockpile to wherever the stuff is supposed to go; and it's more concerned with encouraging public-private partnerships (and attendant opportunities for "politicizing"?) in creating innovative new stuff than with ordinary things like masks and ventilators.

Anyway, it's very unlikely that Emperor Trump has any concept of these matters, beyond taking an interest in what moves the stock markets.

NASDAQ share price of hydroxychoroquine manufacturer Mylan on Friday 20 March, up 17% the day after Trump touted the drug as a possible cure or prevention for Covid-19. Via CCN.
With his childlike difficulty in distinguishing the abstract from the concrete, he seems to think of the federal government as covering its own very big territory, "ourselves", or perhaps the transcriber misheard "our shelves", because when he's inventing silly stories about it he also thinks of it as a kind of enormous warehouse that Obama should have stocked by 2016, when it was "literally empty", but for which he, since unlike Obama or state governors he's not an "ordering clerk" ("So we had to go into the federal stockpile, but we’re not an ordering clerk. They have to have for themselves."), bears no responsibility.

Yes, We Have No Ammunition
by Donald J. Trump

Previous administrations gave us
very little ammunition
for the military and very
little shelf space. You know
the answer. The previous administration,
the shelves were empty, the shelves
were empty, so what you should do
is speak to the people from
the previous administration,
Jim, and asking that question,
because the shelves were empty
and you know what else? The military
shelves were also empty. We had
no ammunition. Literally.
That was, one of your favorite generals,
"We have, sir, we have no ammunition,"
guess what, we had very
little medical supply also. All right.

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