Hunt for medical supplies creates marketplace of desperation

Daniel Durand, Pothik Chatterjee
Posted at 1:10 PM, Apr 04, 2020
and last updated 2020-04-04 13:10:28-04

ANNAPOLIS, Md. -- Intense global demand to get protective equipment for doctors and nurses on the front lines of the coronavirus battle is prompting states and hospitals to compete against themselves in a shady marketplace where prices are soaring.

State governors across the U.S. have been pressing unsuccessfully for the federal government to centralize the process and stop the competition between states, their own hospital systems, other countries and the federal government itself.

“It is the greatest frustration,” said Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, a Republican who heads the National Governors Association. “We have states out competing on the open markets with totally uneven distribution of these things, and now the federal government competing with us — and other countries competing against us — and then a very limited supply of all of these things and no real coordination of where it’s going.”

States say they have no choice but to pay inflated prices, calling it a matter of life and death.