Fox News gave coverage Thursday to an emerging problem in the coronavirus pandemic: When the federal government is sending ventilators to states in need, it’s turning out that many of these units don’t actually work on arrival and must be fixed before they can get deployed to patients.
But during the broadcast of America’s Newsroom, co-anchor Ed Henry never mentioned a key detail of this story: The New York Times reported yesterday that the federal contract to maintain the ventilator stockpile had run out last summer, leaving the machines simply unmaintained during a months-long dispute between competing vendors. The Times reported that the company that ultimately won the contract did not actually get the task “until late January, when the scope of the global coronavirus crisis was first becoming clear”:
It is not known whether problems with the ventilators predated the contract lapse, but maintenance of the machines did halt. That delay may become a potentially deadly lapse.
“We were given a stop-work order before we’d even started,” said Tom Leonard, the chief executive of Agiliti, which had won the contract to service the ventilators in the stockpile. “Between the time of the original and the time of this contract award, I don’t know who was responsible or if anybody was responsible for those devices. But it was not us.”
Instead of addressing this “potentially deadly lapse,” Henry set out to assure viewers that although “there are reports now that many of those machines being made available by the federal government simply do not work,” the ventilators can indeed be fixed with some quick repairs.
During the segment, Henry also did not acknowledge that crucial time is being lost to these ventilator repairs as hospitals struggle to cope with the coronavirus pandemic.
Indeed, this major lapse in federal preparedness just might be a worthy subject for any potential investigation of the government’s coronavirus response — which Fox News is already laying the groundwork to vociferously oppose.