• Illinois’ governor reportedly organized secret flights to haul millions of masks and gloves from China to bypass any Trump administration efforts to seize the products.
  • The Chicago Sun-Times reported that the details were kept secret after the Illinois government “heard reports of Trump trying to take PPE in China and when it gets to the United States.”
  • A number of reports have documented federal efforts to seize ventilators, masks, and other PPE for the national stockpile, even intercepting and diverting orders without explanation.
  • Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker organized secret flights bringing millions of masks and gloves to the state from China on charter jets in an effort to bypass potential Trump administration efforts to seize the products, The Chicago Sun-Times reported.

Two invoices from the state revealed $888,275 purchases for “aircraft charter flight to Shanghai, China for COVID-19 response,” according to the newspaper.

The state has reportedly spent $174 million on coronavirus-related purchases, such as ventilators, personal protective equipment, and hand sanitizer.

The Sun-Times cited a source familiar with the purchases, who said the details were kept secret “because we’ve heard reports of Trump trying to take PPE in China and when it gets to the United States.”

Pritzker’s press secretary declined to give the newspapers details on the flights, but noted the “challenges” Illinois has faced to obtain PPE for frontline health care workers.

N95 masks are prepared to be shipped at the Afya Warehouse, a non-profit medical supply recovery organization, during the outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Yonkers, New York, U.S. March 25, 2020. REUTERS/Lila Engelbrecht

Outbreak of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) in Yonkers

Reuters


“The supply chain has been likened to the Wild West, and once you have purchased supplies, ensuring they get to the state is another herculean feat,” press secretary Jordan Abudayyeh told the Sun-Times. “These flights are carrying millions of masks and gloves our workers need. They’re scheduled to land in Illinois in the coming weeks and the state is working to ensure these much-needed supplies are protected and ready for distribution around the state.”

A number of reports have documented federal efforts to seize ventilators, masks, and other PPE for the national stockpile, even intercepting and diverting orders without explanation.

Pritzker has vehemently criticized Trump for his handling of the coronavirus. In a CNN interview on April 14, Pritzker said he had “given up” on the Trump administration’s promises to deliver medical supplies.

Trump has criticized Pritzker right back, saying he “is always complaining.”

Prizker also described fierce bidding wars against the Trump administration, as well as other states, for PPE and other items from overseas. Last month, an Illinois official even sped up a highway with a $3.4 million check to personally meet a supplier’s deadline to obtain 1.5 million N95 masks, the Sun-Times reported.

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