As the novel coronavirus pandemic strains health care systems, questions around the U.S. government's response have circulated in the media and online.
On March 26, The Daily Wire published an article centering on the Obama administration’s role in using and allegedly failing to replenish the federal stockpile.
“The Obama administration significantly depleted the federal stockpile of N95 respirator masks to deal with the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009 and never rebuilt the stockpile despite calls to do so,” the piece begins.
The article draws from the reporting of outlets including Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times. According to Bloomberg News, “after the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009, which triggered a nationwide shortage of masks and caused a 2- to 3-year backlog orders for the N95 variety, the stockpile distributed about three-quarters of its inventory and didn’t build back the supply.”
“After the swine flu epidemic in 2009, a safety-equipment industry association and a federally sponsored task force both recommended that depleted supplies of N95 respirator masks, which filter out airborne particles, be replenished by the stockpile,” the Los Angeles Times reported.
On Wednesday, President Donald Trump said during a press conference the country’s stockpile of personal protective equipment, including medical gear like N95 masks, is almost depleted.