HHS Watchdog Finds Federal Gov’t Partially Responsible For Medical Supply Crisis

President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing at the White House on March 16, 2020. (Photo by BRENDAN SMIALOWSKI/AFP via Getty Images)
April 6, 2020 12:03 p.m.
EDITORS' NOTE: TPM is making our COVID-19 coverage free to all readers during this national health crisis. If you’d like to support TPM's reporters, editors and staff, the best way to do so is to become a member.

Christi Grimm, the principal deputy inspector general at the Health and Human Services Department, released a report on Monday that found the “significant challenges” hospitals are grappling with in treating COVID-19 were partially due to the federal government’s flailing response to the outbreak.

In a survey held from March 23 to 27, hospital workers informed Grimm’s office that they had not been sufficiently informed of the process of obtaining crucial medical supplies from the federal government’s national stockpile.

One medical staffer told the inspector general that the means to receiving those supplies posed “a major challenge” and that the equipment that the hospital did get were inadequate.

“Some hospitals noted that at the time of our interview they had not received supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile, or that the supplies that they had received were not sufficient in quantity or quality,” Grimm wrote.

According to the report, one hospital received Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) that had expired in 2010 from a federal agency.

Additionally, hospital personnel cited “inconsistent guidance” from the federal and state governments as a major hurdle in treating the coronavirus outbreak, and that it was “difficult to remain current” with the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) guidelines.

An HHS spokesperson told TPM in an emailed statement that HHS Secretary Alex Azar “has already taken action” on the report’s recommendations.

“HHS, alongside other federal agencies, has been working day and night to support local communities and take actions to help our healthcare system respond quickly and effectively,” the spokesperson said.

Key Coronavirus Crisis Links

TPM’s COVID-19 hub.
Josh Marshall’s Twitter List of Trusted Experts (Epidemiologists, Researchers, Clinicians, Journalists, Government Agencies) providing reliable real-time information on the COVID-19 Crisis.
COVID-19 Tracking Project (updated data on testing and infections in the U.S.).
Johns Hopkins Global COVID-19 Survey (most up to date numbers globally and for countries around the world).
Worldometers.info (extensive source of information and data visualizations on COVID-19 Crisis — discussion of data here).
Masthead Masthead
Founder & Editor-in-Chief:
Executive Editor:
Managing Editor:
Senior Editor:
Special Projects Editor:
Editor at Large:
General Counsel:
Head of Product:
Director of Technology:
Publishing Associate:
Front-End Developer:
Senior Designer: