A week after the government’s principal emergency response agency took the lead on the growing coronavirus pandemic, officials have been trying to catch up, hoping to streamline communication and sort out distribution to get necessary equipment to states pleading for help.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, which falls under the Department of Homeland Security, is deploying its extensive experience in disaster response to coordinate the federal response. In doing so, the agency has come under mounting pressure to create an organized and efficient process, and get states and hospitals the medical supplies they need. Internally, that’s also led to confusion and irritation as FEMA tries to take the leading position.
Multiple sources said that there was frustration among employees within the agency over being brought into the coronavirus response too late, coupled with fear that FEMA would ultimately take the blame for the bungled response.
“Of course, there’s confusion. I mean, Jesus,” a FEMA employee said.