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More than 1,000 companies responded to FEMA's call for coronavirus supplies, but so far only 3 could actually help

Tim O'Donnell

The Federal Emergency Management Agency got a lot of hits on its call for companies to provide supplies for the novel COVID-19 coronavirus response, but very few have resulted in any success, The Wall Street Journal reports.

A person familiar with the situation told the Journal that more than 1,000 companies originally responded to the request, but as of early Monday, only three unknown companies actually had supplies FEMA could buy. A lot of the offers — for things like protective medical gear, body bags, and tests — fell short because the vendors wanted FEMA to provide payment upfront, which the agency can't do. Others reportedly simply oversold their stock. The source said many phone calls with potential suppliers transitioned from something along the lines of "I've got" to "I can find" in a matter of days.

"There's a lot of disappointment in how the business community is responding," the person said.

The pandemic response has been a unique challenge for FEMA, which usually operates in response to localized disasters like hurricanes and wildfires, but the agency has had some unsavory dealings over supply procurement before, the Journal reports. Craig Fugate, who headed the agency under the Obama administration, said during previous disasters some companies proved to be "absolute rip-off" artists, which, he explained, is just how it works when you put out sweeping proposals. Read more at The Wall Street Journal.

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