Mar 21, 2020 - Health

Report: Drop in medical supplies tied to decreased China imports

Photo: Rich Graessle/Icon Sportswire/Getty Images

An AP report finds that the shortage of medical supplies in the United States correlated with the drop in imports, mainly from China.

Why it matters: Emergency rooms, hospitals, and clinics are starting to run out of key supplies needed to protect health care officials and test potentially sick individuals, AP notes.

The state of play: The Trump administration is considering lifting some of the tariffs against China with the support of U.S. businesses and health care officials, The Wall Street Journal writes.

  • The latest delivery of medical-grade N95 masks arrived from China on Feb. 19, and 13 shipments of non-medical-grade N95 masks have reached the U.S. in the past month, per AP. These masks filter out 95% of all airborne particles.
  • Hand sanitizer and swab imports dropped by 40%. Swabs are needed for a variety of reasons, but they help test for the coronavirus as well.
  • Over-the-counter medical shipments have dropped, with only 5 shipping containers of medical thermometers arriving in the U.S during the last 30 days.

Thought bubble: Axios' Sam Baker says this helps explain why President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act, an emergency tool that allows the government to bolster domestic manufacturing. But it also makes it even more surprising that the U.S. has not actually used that tool yet.

Go deeper: China's coronavirus outbreak prompts congressional scrutiny of health supply chain

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Why it matters: New York City has become an epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, facing mass quarantines and stay-at-home orders. Cuomo said Saturday that New York reported 630 new deaths in 24 hours — an "all-time increase" that beat the previous day's record of 562 deaths.

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