US freezes overseas protective equipment shipments

A Congressional source told CNN on Wednesday that she was informed late last Friday night that the Coronavirus Task Force – led by Vice President Mike Pence – was stopping overseas shipments of medical equipment and asking instead that the supplies be distributed in the United States.

Asked Wednesday about reports of the freeze, President Donald Trump said there was “no truth at all” for them. However, a few minutes later, he noted that “whatever we have, whatever we have committed, we are committed”, but added that “we also need a lot for ourselves”.

“Obviously, we’re not going to over-ship,” he said during a White House briefing.

Politics was the first to report the freeze. CNN has contacted the US Agency for International Development for comment.
The move comes as the United States has turned to countries around the world with requests to donate or sell supplies ranging from hand sanitizer to ventilators in a bid to fight the deadly pandemic. In a list obtained by CNN, the State Department outlined 25 items diplomats should request from their host countries.

South Korea said last week that Trump made a personal appeal for supplies to President Moon Jae-in. A Russian cargo plane filled with medical supplies landed in New York on Wednesday, just days after Trump and President Vladimir Putin spoke by phone.

On Monday, USAID made an “urgent request” to organizations for personal protective equipment and medical supplies, including test kits, masks and ventilators, which may be “potentially available,” according to an e- mail obtained by CNN.

Despite the decision to freeze shipments of medical equipment overseas, the State Department and USAID have publicly touted the generosity of the United States amid the global pandemic.

“At the beginning of February – it seems a long time ago – at the beginning of February, we transported almost 18 tonnes of medical supplies provided by Samaritan’s Purse, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and others in Wuhan, ”he added. State Mike Pompeo said Tuesday, an apparent response to criticism of the aid shipment.

“In America, we provide aid because we are a generous and noble people,” he said.

Last week, the State Department announced $ 274 million in health and humanitarian assistance in response to the pandemic. However, a senior State Department official admitted last week that he did not offer personal protective equipment as part of the assistance.

A State Department spokesperson noted that “in general, we strive to ensure that critical and insufficient medical supplies are not diverted from national needs.”

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