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Springfield hospitals tried hiding a much needed mask shipment in trucks made to look like they were carrying food; then the FBI showed up

Dr. Andrew Artenstein, chief physician executive at Baystate Health - which runs four hospitals in the Springfield area - describes the lengths he and his staff had to go to to secure some much needed respirator masks recently, in a a letter to the New England Journal of Medcine posted yesterday.

Artenstein reports he and his staff found a distributor with a supply of K95 masks - similar to N95 masks - and surgical masks.

Three members of the supply-chain team and a fit tester were flown to a small airport near an industrial warehouse in the mid-Atlantic region. I arrived by car to make the final call on whether to execute the deal. Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse. When fully loaded, the trucks would take two distinct routes back to Massachusetts to minimize the chances that their contents would be detained or redirected.

Artenstein and his staffers opened one package, the masks seemed to be good and, hoping the rest of the shipment would be similarly fine, he was about to order a wire transfer to the distributor when two FBI agents walked in - and started questioning him:

No, this shipment was not headed for resale or the black market. The agents checked my credentials, and I tried to convince them that the shipment of PPE was bound for hospitals. After receiving my assurances and hearing about our health system’s urgent needs, the agents let the boxes of equipment be released and loaded into the trucks. But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE. Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse.

Via MassLive.com.

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Comments

A monument to this exact issue needs to be built on the Boston Common.

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Voting closed 44

Trump said the states were on their own, then the federal government begins to seize shipments. The cynic in me says it's prioritizing states with democratic governors. Half the country is still going to vote for him in November.

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There had better be congressional investigations (in the House at least given Mitch's proclivities) to determine if there were any political considerations going on with the federal "oversight" of PPE and essential medical equipment related to the pandemic.

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And again. And again. His criminal acts are continuous. Attempts to hold him accountable should also be continuous.

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Voting closed 74

...he's interested.

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What the ACTUAL fuck.

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Yet twitter folks tried to argue with me when I commended Baker for the National Guard going along with those trucks (last week?)

As I keep saying, our own gov't is out to get us and its very obvious.

It sucks and all we can do is sit at home and watch. I feared our own gov't would be used against us when orange fuckface won when we had a national emergency hit.. and now it has.

The next few months are going to be eye opening, if they aren't already Clockwork Orange-like wide open already.

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Voting closed 73

And promptly let them go after finding out the deal was real.

There are people pulling shenanigans out there. Here's a Brooklyn guy https://nypost.com/2020/03/30/brooklyn-man-arrested-for-hoarding-masks-c...
that had a bunch of them, 700% markup and all.

"Following Feldheim’s arrest, the FBI on Monday night raided a warehouse on Pennsylvania Avenue in an industrial section of Linden, NJ, that housed Feldhim’s suspected stash of 80,000 masks, a source said."

FBI's just doing their job. As far as DHS, sounds like they were way out of line.

https://www.newswars.com/video-fbi-raids-new-york-man-hoarding-n95-face-...

"43-year-old Baruch Feldheim, believed to be the suspect behind the hoarding, coughed on the FBI agents after they arrested him Monday.

Agents discovered Feldheim intended to sell the equipment at a 700% markup.

“After identifying themselves as FBI agents, they told Feldheim that they wanted to stay a distance away from him given concerns over the spread of Coronavirus,” the DOJ said in a statement. “When the agents were within four to five feet of him, Feldheim allegedly coughed in their direction without covering his mouth.”

This comes after Attorney General William Barr announced punitive measures against any individuals or organizations hoarding N95 masks or other PPE equipment.

“We have started to see some evidence of potential hoarding & price gouging,” Barr said at a White House coronavirus briefing last week. “So, earlier today the president signed a second executive order providing the authority to address…hoarding that threatens the supply of those necessary health and medical resources.”

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Even after the FBI agents left, DHS wanted to seize the shipment - and had to be talked out of it by Richard Neal.

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“ FBI's just doing their job. As far as DHS, sounds like they were way out of line.”

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"You left out the next part"
Or maybe I didn't. Looks like 'Lee' covered it for me. Anyway...

FTA (which for those that don't know, means From The Article, not Federal Transportation Authority, a nonexistant agency): "A lead came from an acquaintance of a friend of a team member...We received samples...Having acquired the requisite funds — more than five times the amount we would normally pay for a similar shipment, but still less than what was being requested by other brokers — we set the plan in motion."

Is this from 'The Departed'? I mean this is starting to sound like some serious Boston gangsta movie shit going on, even though it's Springfield, which is generally outside of AG's purview, except when there's a possibility of Orange Man Bad.
"Two semi-trailer trucks, cleverly marked as food-service vehicles, met us at the warehouse". See? Send an amateur to do a gangsta job. The trucks had DOT numbers on the doors/bodies. Dead giveaway. Looks almost...fraudulent.

"We opened several boxes, examined their contents, and hoped that this random sample would be representative of the entire shipment. Before we could send the funds by wire transfer, two Federal Bureau of Investigation agents arrived, showed their badges, and started questioning me."
I guess they were mystified as to how the clever Feds possibly could tell something was wrong. Maybe it was the stick on veggies they put on the sides of the trucks.

Said no one, unfortunately, 'Look, this ain't a gangsta movie and you sure as hell ain't Jack Nicholson. Call the state medical people. Arrange for a Massachusetts Statie, or even a Springfield cop to go with you. You will have no problem. FBI shows up? Cop guarantees the deal is on the level. FBI (as they did) says, 'Fine'.
DHS shows up? They get stared down by the cop and probably the FBI.

"But I was soon shocked to learn that the Department of Homeland Security was still considering redirecting our PPE." Were they on scene? If so, then there's a lack of detail here as to what happened. They obviously let him, and the masks, go. If they were not on scene, how did he know about the DHS interest?

Hey, Dr. Artenstein, next time you want something moved, hire a Teamster.

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Not Transportation Authority. That would be the US Dept. of Transportation (DOT/USDOT).

Keep on boomin'.

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Recent comment I was quoting from an article AG posted, so I said, 'FTA'. Naturally, one of you clever tykes came up with...

"Federal Transportation Authority?
By Don't Panic on Thu, 04/16/2020 - 12:23am.
How do you define FTA there @dmcboston? I'm starting to feel old now..."

Here, let me fix that and put a smile on your face. I was shopping the other day in a wholesale restaurant supply place and saw this pallet of flour for sale...

IMAGE(https://i.imgur.com/MSeR7Hq.jpg)

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Trump Steaks.

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More discussion and thoughts on the article:
https://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=22901129

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We. Are. At. War.

And to anyone saying "Oh, well we'll just get him out in November", I've got some news for you;

There's a better than even chance we ain't having an election in November, let alone a fair one.

I know, I know. The Constitution says that you gotta such and such by a certain date and blah, blah, blah.

IT DOESNT MATTER ANYMORE!

The "norms" of the last 100 years have been destroyed in 3 short years. And the President of The United States of America has publicly committed sedition against Blue States who have not appropriately "kissed his ring".

There is a New Confederacy and we best find out who are friends are.

It's time for a more perfect Union.

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Voting closed 35

Time to stop teaching kids that the North won the Civil War.

I know the definition of "winning" has gotten blurry these last few years, but I'm quite certain that when you win something, the result isn't that the losers pick your leader and then steal from you.

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Voting closed 18

You know I love to give you a hard time when you're wrong, but you're dead right on this one.

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Really?

Since a lot of folks have more time on their hands, I suggest the Ken Burns series on the Civil War.

If you still want to divide the country after that, we can talk.

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That your Dear Leader should've watched that series before he ran for President.

Because you picked the wrong side in this fight, dmc.

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Only some quick calls leading to intervention by our congressional representative (Richard Neal) prevented its seizure. I remained nervous and worried on the long drive back, feelings that did not abate until midnight, when I received the call that the PPE shipment was secured at our warehouse. -- Dr. Andrew Artenstein

That passage is a red flag, so it should come as no surprise that the author, Andrew Artenstein, appears on the Federal Election Commission (FEC) donor list as a longtime, generous contributor to the very same Congressman Richard Neal (D-Springfield) that he praises. This is the same US Rep. Neal who, as recently as December, called the Trump presidency "an extreme danger" even before Covid-19 was known. The rest of Arnestein's account is so obviously slanted that it's difficult to take seriously.

Law enforcement had previously announced close scrutiny of PPE shipments so it's odd that Artenstein would be so annoyed by a compliance check. Even without the pandemic, police might normally be interested in any covert transaction at a secret warehouse where one sample of the product was opened up and analyzed, like something out of Miami Vice. At one point, he describes being "outmuscled" by the federal government as if Trump's people had physically overpowered him. The rest of the drama is reminisicent of a different 1980s series, "CHiPs" with camoflagued "food trucks" dodging the law on secret routes back to MA. Perhaps they were simply independent truckers who sometimes haul groceries, PPE or whatever the job calls for?

We have all heard of hospitals having issues replenishing their stockpiles but those accounts are more persuasive when the obvious political slant is left out. The NEJM should offer full disclosure of the author's very political background and loyal support of Neal so that the story and source can be properly evaluated.

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Is about all I can say to you and still get this commented posted.

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Stop & Shop along with other grocery stores in the cities and towns just south of Boston are reporting a run on tinfoil at their stores.

When asked a Stop & Shop spokesperson could not quantify why this is happening but witnesses said there was a person seen walking out of a store with a lot of this product. They could not describe the person but did notice that their vehicle had a lot of faded Investigate Benghazi and Geoff Diehl 2018 stickers on it.

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Voting closed 52

I should know better than to engage with you, but I don't.

One of the functions that Congressional representatives perform is advocating on behalf of a constituent in matters involving federal agencies that the constituent is unable to easily resolve on their own, regardless of the level of support that constituent has for their Congressional representative.

How the fuck is exercising your right to contact your elected officials and making your government work for you "political slant"?

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Fish will ignore that his hero Trump donated to the Clintons for many years, or at best cite his “business genius” as a reason it was done.
However a doctor who donates to a congressional candidate in his own district who then calls upon that person in a time of crisis OH NO CONSPIRACY ALERT CALL HOWIE CARR AND THE HERALD INVESTIGATIVE UNIT!!!1!!1!!

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Law enforcement had previously announced close scrutiny of PPE shipments so it's odd that Artenstein would be so annoyed by a compliance check.

At one point, he describes being "outmuscled" by the federal government as if Trump's people had physically overpowered him.

The rest of the drama is reminisicent of a different 1980s series, "CHiPs" with camoflagued "food trucks" dodging the law on secret routes back to MA.

The federal government has driven it to this point. There have been multiple instances of the Feds seizing legitimate shipments. States and hospitals are doing what they have to do.

This is not ok. This is not good. Wake up man.

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Voting closed 40

Don't you have some more dog whistling to do?

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In my opinion Rep. Neal does have a history of questionable use and solicitation of campaign money. But there is no indication that this incident has anything to do with what I believe to be Neal's corruption.

However the larger and more important point is that Neal was 100% correct when he

called the Trump presidency "an extreme danger" even before Covid-19 was known

.

Trump was an extreme danger when he announced his candidacy, when he won the election, and every single day of his presidency. Shame on you Fish for continuing to promote the most evil and corrupt president in the history of the USA. Your devotion to Trump is frightening.

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... sample of the product was opened up and analyzed, like something out of Miami Vice

Oh. Yes. For sure.

A spot check of loaded inventory before shipping is clearly suspicious behavior.
Are you wearing a miner’s lamp to see in that body cavity that smells like bullshit?

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It's no special credit to Richie that Artenstein was able to get through to him when the rest of his constituents can't, but only an ax-grinding orange-koolade-sucking ignoramus like you would act like a member of Congress stepping in to prevent criminal behavior by DHS is a bad thing.

Keep it up, Fishy, keep it up. If you and your fellow Trump symps get your way, you'll die choking on your own lungs.

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How did the FBI know that these trucks contained masks?

Equally important is to ask why are federal agents willing to interfere with the delivery of medical eqiupment to a hospital?

Let's continue to ask why the federal response is in absolute chaos? As though the tools of the federal government are used to sabotage medical relief efforts?

A person might speculate that these are tactics of spies working for an enemy foreign power.

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"Why is government involved in the transaction?"

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...surveillance.

It's hard to sort out the good from the bad, because it IS the case that there are a lot of PPE scams going on right now, and some very big dollars involved. What's not clear from Artenstein's account is whether the FBI's involvement ended with the confirmation that the PPE was going to a hospital, or if they tipped off DHS. I'd like to know more.

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A lot of you may not know this bit of history, so I'm just going to post a link to a very short story about Stalin. This was a man whose command lead to deaths of millions of his own citizens. Now, I'm not making any implications here, but the thought has certainly crosses my mind: why would any leader be OK with citizens of his own country perishing? We've seen this before.

http://www.disappearingman.com/communism/men-wouldnt-stop-clapping/

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