The national shortage of N95 respirator masks can be traced back to 2009 after the H1N1 swine flu pandemic, when the Obama administration was advised to replenish a national stockpile but did not, according to reports from Bloomberg News and the Los Angeles Times.
The Trump administration is scrambling to replenish a stockpile of protective medical gear for healthcare workers and patients as the coronavirus sweeps across the nation. N95 respirator masks are one of the most needed medical supplies amid the outbreak.
The George W. Bush administration published the National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza plan in 2005, which called on the federal government to distribute medical supplies from the Strategic National Stockpile governed by the Health and Human Services Department in the event of an outbreak.
In 2009, the H1N1 outbreak hit the United States, leading to 274,304 hospitalizations, 12,469 deaths, and a depletion of N95 respirator masks.