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USA Today fact-checked that Obama administration depleted federal stockpile of N95 masks

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President Trump has acknowledged that the federal stockpile of personal protective equipment is nearly depleted, and there are reports the Obama administration failed to replenish the federal stockpile of N95 masks after the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009.

USA Today fact-checked that claim and it didn’t turn out too well for Barack Obama — or Joe Biden.

Both the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News reported that the inventory of N95 masks, which filter out airborne particles, was depleted in 2009.

Bloomberg News reported that the 2009 outbreak “triggered a nationwide shortage of masks and caused a 2- to 3-year backlog orders for the N95 variety,” noting that about three-quarters of the federal inventory was distributed and officials “didn’t build back the supply.”

The Los Angeles Times reported recommendations were made after the outbreak in 2009 to replenish the depleted supplies of N95 respirator masks.

Keep in mind, these are not exactly hostile media outlets when it comes to Obama. In fact, the media was engaged in a slobbering love affair with the former president and these three outlets were near the front of that line.

After laying out a detailed history of the federal stockpile, USA Today noted that the inventory was “seriously taxed” during Obama’s presidency, and that available funds were used not to replenish masks.

The newspaper did say “the Trump administration has not taken significant steps to replenish the masks in the Strategic National Stockpile.”

Nonetheless, the findings show that the inventory was depleted and then neglected by the previous administration.

“We rate this claim TRUE because it is supported by our research, USA Today said of the allegation. “There is no indication that the Obama administration took significant steps to replenish the supply of N95 masks in the Strategic National Stockpile after it was depleted from repeated crises.”

“Calls for action came from experts at the time concerned for the country’s ability to respond to future serious pandemics,” the paper continued. “Such recommendations were, for whatever reason, not heeded.”

The Trump campaign responded to a critical tweet from 2020 Democratic candidate Joe Biden by linking to a Washington Examiner story citing the Los Angeles Times and Bloomberg News articles.

Biden was reminded that while they were advised to replenish the national stockpile, they did not.

Here’s a quick sampling of responses to the story from Twitter:

Tom Tillison


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