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Romney says coronavirus stockpiling should have begun “decades ago”

Senator Mitt Romney says Congress should have been stockpiling medical supplies "decades ago" in anticipation of a virus outbreak. (Photo: KSL File)

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah — Senator Mitt Romney remains critical of Congress and its perceived lack of preparation to handle a potential coronavirus outbreak.

Medical supply shortage

The Senator’s biggest complaint is a shortage of everyday medical supplies such as masks, gowns, and goggles.

“I went on Amazon and looked to see if I could buy some masks for me and my family,” he said. “And the answer is no.”

A number of shortages have been reported as people start to stock up as threats of an expanded outbreak continue to grow.

According to Romney, it’s not good enough to simply react once the coronavirus becomes a bigger problem in America. He says the nation should have been expecting such an outbreak.

“That’s a mistake of Congress not having appropriated money to do so over the last decade or two,” said Romney.

On Tuesday, Romney questioned public health officers with the Center for Disease Control about preparedness to handle a potential pandemic.

During that meeting, Dr. Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response, said the nation would need 3.5 billion N95 respirator masks. Right now there are around 35 million.

“I’ve been concerned,” Romney noted. “It strikes me that we should have substantially more than 10% of what would be needed for a substantial pandemic. We should have that in stock.”

Coronavirus vaccine

Another topic of discussion is the possible production of a vaccine. Health experts are saying that it remains a work in progress.

“Well, there are several companies that believe they’re on the right track to having a vaccine that will work,” said Romney. “But that has to be tested to make sure it’s safe and to make sure it’s effective.”

In terms of a timeline, having it available to the American public remains a “long-term” goal.

“We will not have a vaccine, we’re told by the people responsible for these kinds of things, for at least probably a year or a year and a half,” he said.

One area where Romney is applauding the government is the amount of money going to fund a response.

The dollar figure attached to a federal emergency bill is being beefed up to roughly $8 billion, more than three times the amount that was previously being discussed.