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COVID-19

Why is it so hard for the government to buy PPE?

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 11, 2020
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Workers produce face masks at the Thai Hospital Product Co. factory in Bangkok. Jonathan Klein/Getty Images
COVID-19

Why is it so hard for the government to buy PPE?

Andie Corban and Kai Ryssdal May 11, 2020
Heard on:
Workers produce face masks at the Thai Hospital Product Co. factory in Bangkok. Jonathan Klein/Getty Images
HTML EMBED:
COPY

In the past few months, several multimillion-dollar government contracts for face masks have come under scrutiny. David McSwane, an investigative journalist at ProPublica, spent 36 hours watching one such deal fall apart. Marketplace host Kai Ryssdal talked with McSwane about his article on the role of profit in the market for personal protective equipment right now.

“You have unprecedented demand and very little supply,” McSwane said. To profit from that demand, McSwane said, brokers are offering to connect contractors to the face mask supply chain.

“That contractor is weeding through all of these intermediaries who are making big promises, folks who say they have somebody with masks or somebody in China. In the end, for our contractor in this story, navigating that just proved too much and his deal fell through.”

Click the audio player above to hear the interview.

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