Ambassador to China Terry Branstad is coordinating his effort to get personal protective equipment sent from China to the U.S. with Jared Kushner, the former governor of Iowa told an Iowa radio station this morning. Kushner is serving as the point person at FEMA on a number of critical issues for the country’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“I’m also pleased the President has really given FEMA the responsibility to acquire all of this equipment and get it,” Branstad told WHO Radio in a call from China this morning. “So we’re working closely with FEMA. Actually, I talked with Jared Kushner, who the President has designated as a lead person in putting this all together. So, I visited with him earlier today. We are working feverishly every day. We’ve had four airplanes of equipment that’s been sent already adn we have many more planned for the next week.”
Branstad noted they’d already sent four planeloads of PPE from China to the U.S. He’s been coordinating the effort with a skeleton staff at the embassy, which Branstad said sent 65% of their American staff home under voluntary departure as the pandemic spread.
Kushner’s elevation to a key role in the COVID-19 response effort has seen significant controversy, as is the case with most things the President’s son-in-law does. Some news outlets have reported that Kushner downplayed the number of ventilators needed for certain states. Today at the President’s daily press briefing, Kushner complained that the “notion of the federal stockpile was it’s supposed to be our stockpile. It’s not supposed to be states’ stockpiles that they then use.”
As for China itself, which was the first nation to suffer an outbreak of COVID-19 cases, Branstad said things were ever-slowly starting to return to normal.
“We’re gradually seeing things getting better here in China,” Branstad said of the current situation, adding that everyone was still wearing masks out in public and getting their temperatures taken by officials often. “There’s still a lot of restaurants and businesses that are closed, but it’s coming back gradually.”
by Pat Rynard