FILE – In this Oct. 16, 2014, file photo, Registered nurse Keene Roadman, stands fully dressed in personal protective equipment during a training class at the Rush University Medical Center, in Chicago. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention released new guidelines Monday, Oct. 20, for how health workers should gear up to treat Ebola patients. (AP Photo/Charles Rex Arbogast, File)
On Wednesday, a group of sick medical workers filed a class action lawsuit. Against China.
Healthcare staffers are suing the Chinese government for allegedly hoarding medical supplies, preventing U.S. manufacturers from exporting personal protective equipment (PPE) out of the red nation.
According to a report by The New York Times, over half the planet’s surgical mask supply was produced in China before the late-2019 Wuhan flu outbreak.
Since then, production’s been increased by a factor of more than 11.
As per the New York Post, leading U.S. medical safety equipment manufacturers told the White House that, as the pandemic mounted, China prohibited the exportation in order to “corner the world market” in PPE.
One party in the lawsuit is New Jersey-based Rosanna Caruso, who’s tested positive for COVID-19.
Rosanna believes the situation’s clear:
“My job isn’t a safe place. All because of this disease. China is the origin of it all.”
She claims to have begun exhibiting symptoms on March 18th, and she’s remained sick since.
In the early stages of the outbreak, Rosanna says, the hospital where she works began drastically regulating the use of N95 masks.
She told co-workers to sandwich their N95 mask between surgical masks in order to protect them.
The surgical technologist tested positive on the 28th.
As noted by The Daily Caller, at the beginning of April, Rosanna’s employer issued a memo asking staff to use one mask per week, only to be replaced if damaged or soiled.
So how short on PPE are American medical centers?
A Health and Human Services Office of Inspector General survey of March 23-27 reveals mask shortages have been common across the country.
Courtesy of the report:
The administrator of one hospital stated that before COVID-19, the hospital’s medical center used around 200 masks per day and that it was now using 2,000 per day. Delays in test results led to heavier use of PPE until a patient’s status was confirmed. Another hospital administrator noted the “fear factor” associated with COVID-19, which led to all staff wearing masks instead of only a subset. One hospital administrator reported that some supply distributors limited the quantity of supplies that any one hospital could order, which meant that even with no COVID-19 patients, the hospital was depleting PPE faster than it could restock. Even among hospitals that reported that they currently had enough PPE, some noted that a surge in patients would quickly deplete their supplies.
Among the class-action participants, all have either tested positive for the coronavirus or are waiting for results.
They’re being represented by the Berman Law Group, which also filed a class-action against China in early March over the economic effects of the country’s mishandling of the outbreak. Over 5,000 have joined that one.
Berman spokesman Jeremy Alters explains:
“They took all of these goods, got them in China, and have restricted the ability for the United States to get them. Not only are they not containing the virus the way they’re supposed to, not only are you not telling the world about the effects of this virus but now you’re keeping the equipment we need to stay safe, especially our healthcare workers?”
So how’s a group of American workers able to sue another country? The Daily Caller sheds a bit of light:
[Jeremy] expressed confidence that both of the class action lawsuits his firm filed will have standing in federal court, citing exemptions in the Foreign Sovereign Immunities Act (FSIA), which would typically render a sovereign country China immune from matters of legal liability.
In my estimation, it’s incredible how much impact the outbreak is having, in so many areas of society. It’s no surprise some of it will be bleeding into courtrooms.
I anticipate many more suits due to COVID-19, particularly as Americans are being put out of work and some companies are being put out of business.
It’s some kind of a mess, for sure.
What are your thoughts on the class-action suit on behalf of sick medical staff?
Let us all know in the Comments section.
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