In February, the United States sent millions of dollars worth of personal protective equipment to China, despite growing concerns of the coronavirus pandemic's impact domestically, according to a Washington Post report.
Medical ethicist Arthur Caplan told Boston Public Radio Wednesday that this move, at the hands of Secretary of Commerce Wilbur Ross, was "illogical."
On Jan. 30, Ross said on Fox Business that the outbreak could “accelerate the return of jobs to North America” because companies would move factories away from impacted areas, like China.
"He just has been in that job and acting completely illogically," he said. "It's more likely that China, because of their totalitarian quarantine would be getting back to making medical supplies before we will. They're opening faster because they locked down in a very harsh way but they locked down much more tightly than we did."
According to the Washington Post, the Minnesota-based manufacturing company 3M made a portion of the equipment in their plants in the U.S., and China. They have since ramped up domestic production of masks, after President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act and called out 3M directly in early April.
"There was some argument from 3M that they had to honor their contracts, they didn't have a choice," said Caplan, who noted Ross could have stepped in to void the contracts or establish protocols about production for domestic and international use, given the national emergency.