Being prepared is for all those crazy people in flyover country, not for the cool kids in California. Calif. was ready for virus, then it wasn’t: State had plenty of emergency supplies, then got rid of them.
Being prepared for an emergency costs money, and they were busy building their high-speed rail to nowhere, which was so much more important than being ready for a pandemic.
After the Avian Flu then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger set up a program to be prepared for the next time.
They were ready to roll whenever disaster struck California: three 200-bed mobile hospitals that could be deployed to the scene of a crisis on flatbed trucks and provide advanced medical care to the injured and sick within 72 hours.
Each hospital would be the size of a football field, with a surgery ward, intensive care unit and X-ray equipment. Medical response teams would also have access to a massive stockpile of emergency supplies: 50 million N95 respirators, 2,400 portable ventilators and kits to set up 21,000 additional patient beds wherever they were needed.
But it wasn’t just the initial cost. (Which was hundreds of millions of dollars.) It was the ongoing costs of maintaining the respirators and other equipment that has use-by dates.
In 2011, Gov. Jerry Brown cut off the money to store and maintain the hospitals and equipment.
Much ofthe medical equipment — including the ventilators, critical life-saving tools that are in short supply in the current pandemic — was given to local hospitals and health agencies, former health officials said. But the equipment was donated without any funding to maintain them. The respirators were allowed to expire without being replaced.
Together, these two programs would have positioned California to more rapidly respond as its COVID-19 cases exploded. The annual savings for eliminating both programs? No more than $5.8 million per year, according to state budget records, a tiny fraction of the 2011 budget, which totaled $129 billion.
So what was more important than public health? Their much publicized high-speed rail project kicked off in 2010, though construction didn’t start that year.
With only about a quarter of the $80.3 billion in funding needed to complete the project identified, chances are high that the train will only run in California’s Central Valley, from Merced in the north, 171 miles to Bakersfield in the south—with plain old bus service completing the connection to San Francisco and Los Angeles, making the 800 mile trip slower than flying or even driving down the I-5.
So 80.3 billion dollars for a political pork-barrel bonanza, or 6 million per year for 10 years to safeguard public health in the event of an emergency. It is clear what the priorities are of the politicians in California. But hey, as Forbes notes, they get to say how much they don’t like Trump. (Hat tip to Maggie’s Farm.)