- The Department of Health and Human Services edited its website on Friday apparently to bring its description of the federal emergency stockpile more closely in line with Jared Kushner’s.
- Kushner had attracted criticism for saying on Thursday that states should not assume they are able to draw on the federal stockpile.
- An earlier version of the description on the website starkly contradicted Kushner’s claim, saying that it was precisely what the stockpile was for.
- Later, it said instead that the stockpile existed to “supplement” state resources.
- The agency told Business Insider on Friday that it began working on updating the text on the website a week ago.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
The Department of Health and Human Services rewrote the description of the Strategic National Stockpile on its website on Friday to match a claim Jared Kushner made on Thursday.
Kushner, a senior White House adviser and the president’s son-in-law, said in his first coronavirus task force briefing that states seeking to address shortages of key medical equipment should not expect to be able to draw on the federal stockpile.
“You also have a situation where in some states FEMA allocated ventilators to the states, and you have instances where in cities they’re running out but the state still has a stockpile,” Kushner said. “And the notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile – it’s not supposed to be state stockpiles that they then use.”
Kushner’s remarks were criticised widely on social media, with Democrats pointing out that the stockpile was intended for all Americans.
And Kushner’s description of the function of the stockpile was starkly contradicted by the department’s website, which said it “is the nation’s largest supply of life-saving pharmaceuticals and medical supplies for use in a public health emergency severe enough to cause local supplies to run out.”
“The Strategic National Stockpile’s role is to supplement state and local supplies during public health emergencies. Many states have products stockpiled, as well,” it now says.
“The supplies, medicines, and devices for life-saving care contained in the stockpile can be used as a short-term stopgap buffer when the immediate supply of adequate amounts of these materials may not be immediately available.”
A department representative told Business Insider that the revised description of the stockpile had the same language it had been using in response to media inquiries for several weeks.
They said the Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response began working on updating the website text a week ago, and they directed Business Insider to the same text elsewhere on the website.
In recent weeks, the Trump administration has been criticised for its failure to ensure that hospitals have enough ventilators to treat the surge in coronavirus patients and medical equipment to protect the health workers treating them.
Kushner is leading a “shadow” White House coronavirus team, charged with ensuring that medical supplies are delivered to hospitals and testing is rolled out across the country.
Emma LeGault contributed reporting to this article.