Baton Rouge, Louisiana
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Is red tape standing in the way of getting life-saving equipment to Louisiana?

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BATON ROUGE - A businessman in Baton Rouge said he reached out to the state over the weekend offering access to masks and ventilators. This morning, he told WBRZ the state reached out saying they were interested, but the items had already been sold. 

Buddy Berry said he has connections to a man in Florida who has access to hundreds of ventilators and thousands of masks. A string of emails Berry provided to WBRZ, show he was corresponding through the office of state procurement. As of this morning, he said the state was interested, but it was a little too late.

"It's just been really, really slow," Berry said. "As soon as we had ventilators that were FDA approved, within the next few hours they were gone. Everyone that has them are selling them very, very fast."

Berry said this past weekend the ventilators were selling for about $33,000. Nationwide, they've been going between $35,000 and $40,000. But, now those FDA-approved ventilators are gone. 

"Everyone is wanting them," Berry said. " We had 300 ventilators from one vendor and 10 hours after we had them available they had been sold to someone in India. That's what we keep hearing every few hours. We found these. They are here, and a few hours later they are gone."

State law requires that businesses be registered with the state of Louisiana in order for the state to do business with them. Currently, state leaders say they are doing business with companies all over the nation during this time of crisis. 

In fact, the state says this website will help businesses sign up for the process. They added, the law is necessary to protect taxpayers and make sure Louisiana gets the goods that are promised. 

Businessman Fritz Novak out of Miami wondered if the government process is too cumbersome.

The businessmen said the situation shows how fast health care equipment is sold - in a blink of an eye - as communities worldwide compete for the same sale.

"I feel because there is a need, and it needs to happen fast, but I don't think the government is moving fast enough," Berry said.


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