The Department of Homeland Security released a report saying that China intentionally delayed telling the World Health Organization about the coronavirus because they wanted to stockpile masks and ventilators.
The report was first released to the Associated Press, but Politico’s Betsy Woodruff Swan noted that there was just “moderate confidence” in the claim.
“We further assess the Chinese Government attempted to hide its actions by denying there were export restrictions and obfuscating and delaying provision of its trade data,” the report said.
It’s an interesting claim because many of the masks that states were bidding on were coming from China.
However, in the United States, President Donald Trump attempted to ban masks coming in from China.
“Reaching deals won’t be easy. Increasingly acrimonious relations between Washington and Beijing are complicating efforts to get Chinese-made masks to American clinics and hospitals,” reported the New York Times at the beginning of April. “A breakdown over the last few days in the global business of moving goods by air around the world will make it costly and difficult as well.
“It’s just a madhouse,” said Michael Crotty, a textile broker based in Shanghai. “Money talks. The factory knows one thing: what’s in my bank account and when did it get there? And if it gets there before the other guy, then that’s who is going to get the production time.”
According to the DHS report, they saw the hoarding issue back in January.
“In January, according to the report, China increased its imports of surgical facemasks by 278 percent, surgical gowns by 72 percent, and surgical gloves by 32 percent,” Woodruff Swan said. “Meanwhile, it slashed its global exports of a host of medical products: surgical gloves by 48 percent, surgical gowns by 71 percent, face masks by 48 percent, medical ventilators by 45 percent, intubator kits by 56 percent, thermometers by 53 percent, and cotton balls and swabs by 58 percent.”
If it was known that China was doing this in January, it’s unclear why the president still maintained throughout the month of February that nothing was wrong and the coronavirus was nothing more than the flu. Trump’s own CDC was warning in February that the virus was dangerous. Trump didn’t issue a social distancing recommendation until March 16.
The president has attempted to blame China for the COVID-19 outbreak but had Trump acted sooner, and it is estimated he could have saved thousands of lives.
An editorial by epidemiologists in the New York Times estimated that 90 percent of coronavirus deaths in the United States could have been prevented if Trump issued social distancing policies two weeks earlier. If he instituted those policies even one week earlier, on March 9, the 67,000 deaths so far could have been reduced by up to 60 percent.
As Conservative Max Boot explained, even if China behaved badly and did something wrong, the COVID-19 outbreak was revealed at the end of January. Why Trump downplayed the virus in February and refused to lock down the country until mid-March remains an unanswered question.