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Opinion

Letters to the Editor: Why are we still reading about inexcusable medical supply shortages?

N95 mask
N95 respirator masks that could provide nurses and doctors treating COVID-19 patients some protection are in short supply.
(Ana B. Ibarra / California Healthline)

To the editor: I am weary, and not of sheltering in place or social distancing. These measures can be difficult to maintain, but I am a willing participant because they protect me, my family and my neighbors. (“California hospitals desperate for safety supplies, fear ‘disaster’ as coronavirus wave hits,” April 2)

But while I observe these guidelines, day after day I read about unpreparedness, lack of coordination and fierce competition among the states in obtaining vital medical supplies. Bottom line is that we are not capable of protecting those who are on the front lines for us by providing basic personal protective equipment for them.

I can tolerate adjusting my daily life for the greater good. What is unbearable and shameful is our inability to put aside the “fierce competition” for supplies.

Why can we not coordinate our efforts? It does no good to point out what we could have done earlier. What is it that we have to do now, as a county, a state and a nation, to produce and provide critical supplies where they are needed most?

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After all, we’re in this together, right?

Karen Scott Browdy, Fillmore

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To the editor: In response to the critical shortage of materials essential to securing public health during the current crisis, and with states bidding against each other and the federal government for supplies, President Trump should be an overseer with absolute authority to bring order to the current chaos.

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In May 1940, with Great Britain facing an attack by Nazi Germany, upon taking office Prime Minister Winston Churchill named Max Aitken, a newspaper publisher with no manufacturing experience, minister of aircraft production. Under Aitken’s driven, relentlessly demanding production schedule, Britain was soon producing hundreds of planes and engines each week and had nearly 2,000 operational aircraft to face Germany.

Later that year, the Royal Air Force won the Battle of Britain, moving from total unpreparedness to triumph in the skies.

Is the logic of appointing someone with similar authority over medical supply production not apparent in the White House?

Gordon Cohn, Long Beach

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To the editor: I don’t blame medical personnel for contacting their well-connected benefactors for much-needed supplies to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic.

The fault lies with the Trump administration that all along should have been managing the current pandemic with the same urgency as if we were in World War III or faced with the 1918 flu pandemic.

With Trump largely AWOL or in denial, it should behoove Gov. Gavin Newsom and his team to see that medical supplies — diagnostic kits, N95 masks, gowns and ventilators — are distributed to the facilities where they are in greatest demand, and not to institutions greedily snapping up whatever they can.

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Harold N. Bass, MD, Porter Ranch


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