Friday, February 9, 2024

The U.S. Invested Millions to Produce Masks at Home. Now Nobody’s Buying; Millions of Alcohol Wipes, Left Over from the Coronavirus Pandemic, Go Up in Flames in Ontario, and other C-Virus related stories

Photo: Eric Eckert
WSJ: The U.S. Invested Millions to Produce Masks at Home. Now Nobody’s Buying:
U.S.-made masks and gloves became a national priority during the Covid-19 pandemic. Now the manufacturers need a lifeline of their own.
Domestic production of protective medical equipment that was in short supply during the pandemic is now collapsing as hospitals and other healthcare buyers return to foreign-based suppliers.
About 70% of the 100 or so U.S. mask companies launched during the pandemic have closed, according to industry estimates. U.S. production of N95 and surgical masks fell by more than 90% in 2023 from 2021 levels after elimination of masking requirements knocked out consumer demand.
As overseas supply chains faltered in early 2020, the federal government doled out an estimated $1.5 billion to companies building U.S. plants to make synthetic rubber gloves, N95 respirators, surgical masks and other protection gear, according to government and industry reports. Many of those plants now sit idle, unfinished or operating at far below their capacity, underscoring the challenges of reshoring manufacturing that mostly left the U.S. years ago.
“As soon as Covid ended and the supply-chain disruption ended, all the hospitals in the U.S. went right back to buying from overseas. They’re not doing anything to protect themselves,” said Tony Gadzinski, president of New York-based Medegen Medical Products.
U.S. makers of gloves and masks are calling on the Biden administration to help preserve domestic production capacity as a hedge against future pandemics and cross-border supply disruptions. The Department of Health and Human Services has asked Congress for $400 million to maintain preparedness programs started during the pandemic, including expanding domestic production of protection gear.
“We’re just at the beginning of needing to re-establish this industrial base in the United States,” said Dawn O’Connell, HHS assistant secretary for preparedness and response, during a congressional hearing last year.
Government spending on the national stockpile of personal protection gear for emergencies accounts for about 3% of the total annual spending in the U.S. on masks, gloves and other protection items. Domestic manufacturers said hospitals—the nation’s biggest spender—haven’t been willing to accommodate the manufacturers’ higher costs and smaller production volumes in the aftermath of the pandemic.
Many hospitals were obligated to resume purchases from foreign suppliers under previous multiyear contracts once supply-chain bottlenecks abated, according to the American Hospital Association’s group for healthcare resource and materials management. --->READ MORE HERE (or HERE)
Millions of alcohol wipes, left over from the coronavirus pandemic, go up in flames in Ontario:
A fire in a pile of millions of anti-bacterial cloths burned for hours in Ontario on Wednesday, Jan. 31, the Ontario Fire Department said.
The tower of surplus wipes left over from the COVID-19 pandemic caught fire outside a logistics warehouse at 1155 S. Auto Center Drive around 10:30 a.m., Battalion Chief Scotland Roeber said.
The flames found an ally in the materials, Roeber explained: The cylindrical containers, numbering more than 7 million, each containing 80 wipes, were highly flammable because of the oil in the plastic; then there was the alcohol in the wipes and the cloth wipes themselves.
For good measure, there was a little bit of wind, but the 30 firefighters there prevented the flames from spreading to the building.
City public works crews brought in heavy machinery to pry apart the pile, which Roeber estimated as 200 feet long, 100 feet wide and 30 feet high. --->READ MORE HERE
Follow links below to relevant/related stories and resources:

New York City updates COVID-19 outdoor dining rules

MTA files lawsuit to prevent enforcement of higher wages for subway cleaners who worked during COVID-19 pandemic’s deadly peak

USA TODAY: Coronavirus Updates

WSJ: Coronavirus Live Updates

YAHOO NEWS: Coronavirus Live Updates

NEW YORK POST: Coronavirus The Latest

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