The lingering insult considering the number of fatalities is the willingness of people to capitalize on the necessity of PPEs. The biggest insult is Trump assuming that profit always trumps people.
Blank Industries is a real company, but it’s an ice-melt manufacturer in Hudson, Mass. In an interview, Andrew Blank, the founder, said he had upended his business to sell masks after hearing from a former Chinese supplier he had once hired to make a new kind of toothbrush. (Mr. Blank had invented it.) After the coronavirus hit, the supplier turned his dental-products plant into a mask factory. Mr. Blank told his 12 employees to stop selling rock salt and start selling masks.Why was he charging $4.92 for each N95? “To be honest, I don’t even know what an N95 normally sells for,” he said.
I told him. “50 cents?” he repeated. His supplier was charging him $4.75. (His margin would cover shipping costs; he planned to take no profit.)
The eruption in demand for dwindling amounts of masks has resulted in a kind of global supply-chain bedlam. In the United States, the federal government has decided against commandeering American factories to create a new stream of masks. Instead, federal officials are competing against states, hospitals and medical suppliers for the same pool of masks, which come mostly from China.
Yet states and hospitals, whose typical suppliers are overwhelmed and overextended, have little experience negotiating directly with the Chinese supply chain. Thousands of middlemen — entrepreneurs, do-gooders and profiteers — have rushed to fill the void.
That frenzy has created a mess of confusion, according to interviews with hospitals, factories and mask buyers. Production of masks is soaring, but so are scams, logistical hurdles and, of course, prices.
— David Begnaud (@DavidBegnaud) April 3, 2020
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) April 2, 2020
— Helena (@thelastpinkcar) April 3, 2020
— Tom Nichols (@RadioFreeTom) April 3, 2020
“…a yearlong lockdown would shrink the economy by approx. 22%—a cost of $4.2 trillion…Without containment measures, the economy would contract by about 7%—but as many as 500,000 additional lives would be lost which translates into…about $6.1 trillion.” https://t.co/LfRm0MG0cH
Economists are also weighing subtler interactions between health and economics, including the possibility that the economic shock itself will add to the body count. Public health experts broadly agree that more suicides happen in recessions. Scientists found an additional 4750 suicides in the United States over 3 years attributable to the Great Recession of 2008. Trump pointed to a potential increase in suicides as a reason for loosening restrictions.
Yet economic downturns have typically translated into a net drop in deaths, says Christopher Ruhm, an economist at the University of Virginia who has studied the phenomenon. Although suicides can rise, decreased economic activity can save lives partly because it reduces traffic accidents and air pollution, he says.