NYC sells $200M of COVID supplies for only $500K
NEW YORK - Back in April 2020, Mayor Bill de Blasio announced that New York City placed an order for 3,000 emergency ventilators.
It was an emergency order made in extraordinary times, back when the Big Apple was the epicenter of the global COVID pandemic.
"People were dying," said Bill Hammond, senior policy fellow at the conservative-leaning think tank The Empire Center. "There was reasonable concern that it was going to keep getting worse."
Back then, the demand for medical supplies was unprecedented.
"In those conditions, a lot of expensive mistakes are going to get made," Hammond said. "The basic situation was panic buying."
One of the costliest items-- 3,000 emergency ventilators, totaling $12 million.
"They put them in the corner or in the closet or something, and they never turned him on," said Greg Smith, an investigative reporter with "The City," a non-profit news outlet.
And now—according to Smith’s investigation, Mayor Eric Adams' administration is selling that excess equipment-- like masks, medical gowns, and ventilators-- for pennies on the dollar in online auctions.
"The advertisement in the auction was for ‘nonfunctioning medical equipment for scrap metal,’ and they sold it to this junk dealer on Long Island for $24,600.
that works out to about eight dollars per ventilator.
In total, the city sold $200 million worth of COVID-era PPE purchases for just $500,000.
"I mean, they're trying to sell it, so it's still usable," Smith said. "Why don't they keep it? Because, I mean, are we really comfortable with the idea that this will never happen again?"
Mayor Eric Adams, when asked Tuesday why the city is selling the items for pennies blamed what he referred to as a city "charter" that, according to him, requires the items be disposed of.
"The charter calls for a 90-day stockpile," Adams said in response to a reporter’s question. "After that 90 days, we have to make a determination, of my understanding, either to auction it off, give it away, or discard."
Mayor Bill de Blasio enacted a rule back in 2020 that required the city always maintain a 90-day stockpile of emergency medical equipment.
But as to a rule requiring the city to discard PPE items in excess of that 90 days, FOX 5 News has asked the mayor’s spokesperson what specifically Adams was referring to. So far, his team has not responded