JEFFERSON CITY, Mo — Last autumn, when schools were in session, sports stadiums full and no one had even heard of the COVID-19 disease, the Missouri health department made an eerily foreshadowing request. It asked the state for $300,000 to buy supplies in case of a large-scale disease outbreak. The goal was to fill a gap between local and federal sources. Today, as states spend billions of dollars in the fight against the coronavirus, that October funding request appears woefully insufficient. Yet it highlights a stark fact: States were not stocked for a pandemic and have been scrambling to catch up. An Associated Press review of more than 20 states found that before the coronavirus outbreak many had at least a modest supply of N95 masks, gowns, gloves and other medical equipment. But those were often well past their expiration dates — left over from the H1N1 influenza outbreak a decade ago. The supply shortage stemmed from a variety of factors — a decline in public health funding, a cost-saving dependence on having inventory on hand only for immediate use and a belief that the federal government could come to the rescue with its Strategic National Stockpile. In hindsight, the


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