They were ready to roll whenever disaster struck California: three 200-bed mobile hospitals that could be deployed to the scene of a crisis on flatbed trucks and provide advanced medical care to the injured and sick within 72 hours.Short-sighted decisions with long-term costs. Read the whole thing.
Each hospital would be the size of a football field, with a surgery ward, intensive care unit and X-ray equipment. Medical response teams would also have access to a massive stockpile of emergency supplies: 50 million N95 respirators, 2,400 portable ventilators and kits to set up 21,000 additional patient beds wherever they were needed.
In 2006, citing the threat of avian flu, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the state would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a powerful set of medical weapons to deploy in the case of large-scale emergencies and natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and pandemics.
“In light of the pandemic flu risk, it is absolutely a critical investment,” he told a news conference. “I’m not willing to gamble with the people’s safety."
The state, flush with tax revenue, soon sank more than $200 million into the mobile hospital program and a related Health Surge Capacity Initiative to stockpile medicines and medical gear for use in outbreaks of infectious disease, according to former emergency management officials and state budget records.
But the ambitious effort, which would have been vital as the state confronts the new coronavirus today, hit a wall: a brutal recession, a free fall in state revenues — and in 2011, the administration of a fiscally minded Democratic governor, Jerry Brown, who came into office facing a $26-billion deficit.
And so, that year, the state cut off the money to store and maintain the stockpile of supplies and the mobile hospitals. The hospitals were defunded before they’d ever been used.
Much of the medical equipment — including the ventilators, critical life-saving tools that are in short supply in the current pandemic — was given to local hospitals and health agencies, former health officials said. But the equipment was donated without any funding to maintain them. The respirators were allowed to expire without being replaced.
Update: But wait, there's more:
Do we chalk Joe's talking points up to hypocrisy, lying, or dementia?Joe Biden has made pandemic preparedness a theme of his attacks on President Trump in recent weeks.
But, according to analysis from Gregg Re at Fox News, the Obama-Biden administration repeatedly sought to cut hundreds of millions of dollars in funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), "seemingly undercutting former Vice President Joe Biden's repeated attacks on the Trump White House for its pandemic preparedness."
The budget requests are available online via the CDC website.
On many occasions, Democrats, including Biden, have falsely accused President Trump of slashing the CDC's budget. Biden has used these false claims to suggest that he would never even propose similar cuts, let alone make them. Fact checks from the Associated Press and FactCheck.org both proved the claims made by Biden and others to be wrong, because CDC funding actually increased during the Trump administration.