The overwhelming number of coronavirus patients flooding hospitals across the U.S. has resulted in a shortage of ventilators for those experiencing difficulty breathing.
But while President Trump has faced criticism from states, like New York, for the short supply, federal agencies have been predicting the need for more ventilators for nearly two decades. Reports from various government offices have been sounding the alarm over the course of at least three successive presidencies dating back to the George W. Bush administration.
“GAO found that most hospitals lack the capacity to respond to large-scale infectious disease outbreaks,” concluded the U.S. Government Accountability Office in a 2003 report after the SARS outbreak, noting that “few hospitals have adequate medical equipment, such as the ventilators that are often needed for respiratory infections such as SARS, to handle the large increases in the number of patients that may result.”
A 2005 Congressional Research Service report examining avian flu also noted that the U.S. was unlikely to be prepared for a pandemic due to that virus’ effect on the lungs.