Whistleblower Rick Bright Says Trump Officials Ignored COVID-19 Warnings: ‘We’re In Deep S–t!’
Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, told Congress Thursday that the Department of Health and Human Services ignored warnings about a supply shortage of personal protective equipment in the months leading up to the coronavirus pandemic.
Bright testified that emails from Mike Bowen, head of Prestige Ameritech, a major surgical mask supplier, warned of impending shortages but went ignored.
“I’ll never forget the emails I received from Mike Bowen indicating that our mask supply, our N-95 respirator supply was completely decimated,” Bright said. “And he said, ‘We’re in deep shit. The world is.’”
Dr. Rick Bright says he will never forget receiving an email from an N95 manufacturer warning: “We’re in deep shit. The world is, and we need to act.”
Bright told Congress that he forwarded the message, which fell on deaf ears.
He also wrote that in his complaint. pic.twitter.com/khvL9flQBq
— Adam Klasfeld (@KlasfeldReports) May 14, 2020
According to Bright’s whistleblower complaint, he first began warning HHS officials of coronavirus-related concerns towards the end of January.
He suggested a meeting on Jan. 23, saying that coronavirus may already be in the U.S. and that he would need additional funding to stop its spread. The same day, a HHS spokesperson said the coronavirus was ruled a low threat to the U.S. by the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.
The complaint says that HHS official Bryan Shuy “later told Dr. Bright that his request for urgent funding at the meeting on January 23[rd] set off ‘quite a shit storm’ after the meeting.'”
“Mr. Shuy further relayed to Dr. Bright he had offended HHS leadership by pushing for urgent funding…” the complaint reads. “According to Mr. Shuy, HHS leadership believed that BARDA already had a sizable budget, albeit nothing specifically for COVID-19, and that he should not have asked for additional resources to address the virus.”
Bright’s complaint alleges that Bowen continued to warn HHS officials that there were not enough masks to go around, but no action was taken.
“From that moment, I knew that we were going to have a crisis for our health care workers,” Bright testified. “We were not taking action. We were already behind the ball.”
RICK BRIGHT says people died due to delay in getting N95 masks:
“Doctors and nurses in hospitals today are wearing N95-marked masks from other countries that are not providing sufficient protection…nurses are rushing into hospitals thinking they’re protected and they’re not.” pic.twitter.com/YeQdPbOv5t
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) May 14, 2020
During Bowen’s testimony, he was questioned by Rep. Greg Walden (R-Oregon), who referenced a Jan. 31 email in which he said he would sell masks to the federal government “if and only if the VA and DoD become my customers after this thing is over.”
Bowen replied that scaling production would require onboarding new employees, and he did not want to fire them once the demand was met.
Bright warned Thursday that the U.S. could face its “darkest winter in modern history” due to missteps in handling the virus outbreak.
Dr. Rick Bright testifies on the US coronavirus response: “If we fail to improve our response now — based on science — I fear the pandemic will get worse and be prolonged … Without better planning, 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history” https://t.co/0oEXFoJ5Bx pic.twitter.com/FDpcHC1l6M
— CNN Politics (@CNNPolitics) May 14, 2020
“The window is closing to address this pandemic because we still do not have a standard centralized coordinated plan to take this nation through this response,” he said.