Taxpayers are spending billions to confront the coronavirus on the front lines ― buying medical supplies, protective equipment and other essential gear. But even months into the pandemic, many states including Florida are withholding details about what they’re buying and who they’re paying, according to a new, exhaustive survey by the Associated Press. This secrecy only invites profiteering and corruption, and it’s time the states accounted for this monumental public expense.
The scramble began in March as the scope of the outbreak became increasingly clear and as the nation’s mayors and governors stepped forward to act in the absence of federal leadership from Washington. An Associated Press survey of all 50 states found a hodgepodge of public information about the purchase of everything from masks and gowns to protective equipment for hospital and emergency workers. In many cases, the shortage of supplies forced states to compete for essential equipment, driving up prices. Some communities (including Hillsborough County) even opened drop-off sites to receive donated materials from the private sector. (Read more.)