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Reopening Business Could Bring ‘Wild West’ Fight for Supplies, as Masks, Thermometers and Tests Still Not Widely Available

While President Donald Trump and some major companies are looking ahead to reopen businesses, the groups that are giving the country medical care and keeping Americans fed say they’re not ready.

Shortages of essential coronavirus supplies exist at every layer of the American economy, from hospitals on down. And the most critical items needed for states to lift their shutdown orders — including testing and tracing of coronavirus cases, thermometers for screening customers and workers, even cloth masks for people to wear at work or outside — are not widely available, even to essential businesses, according to industry groups that represent manufacturers, food production companies, labs and hospital groups.

Over the past month, state shutdowns have allowed some essential businesses to gradually get what supplies they need to operate and formulate plans. The country’s top infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, warned during an interview on “Good Morning America” Monday that reopening businesses too soon could “backfire.” Some manufacturers whose production lines are maxed out already fear even a gradual return to normal commerce could be catastrophic.

I get very concerned in the absence of clear messages from the federal government that we’re going to create a situation that looks a little more like the Wild West,” Geoff Freeman, who leads the Consumer Brands Association, told CNN on Friday.

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