On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared a nationwide emergency and invoked the Stafford Act. As part of that process, the national stockpile of PPE was made available for distribution. Unfortunately, that stockpile was not sufficient to meet current need.
Contingency plans were developed and begun:
- Supplies pulled from non-medical businesses, such as construction, hair and nail salons, farming, and manufacturing.
- Private companies ramped up production as much as possible
- Import of supplies from non-affected countries
- Increasing the federal micro-purchase threshold
- Lowering the simplified acquisition threshold for Federal entities.
In the rush to acquire supplies by private entities, states, and the federal government, a lot of competition developed quickly. In a high-stakes game of competing federal governments around the world, individual states, large companies, and small clinics – the small businesses rarely stood a chance. Price gouging was rampant, shipping delayed, and counterfeit and inferior products flooded the market.
Confusion about HOW to purchase supplies, and from where, was everywhere.