New York and California's decisions seem to have been driven by cost cutting due to a massive recession that started at the end of GW Bush's tenure, you may remember it. I don't know about ventilators but I'm familiar with the N 95 respirators as I'm using them daily, they have specific storage conditions and a shelf life and most of the stock held in 2015 would probably be passed their use by date today.Well, It turns out in NYC the Mayor DeBlasio auctioned off the cities extra Ventilators back in 2015
A 2006 pandemic plan warned that New York City could be short as many as 9,500 ventilators. But the city only acquired a few hundred, which were ultimately scrapped because it couldn’t afford to maintain them.www.propublica.org
This after we found out California had mobile hospitals and either auctioned them off or just junked the equipment in dumpsters-
They were ready to roll whenever disaster struck California: three 200-bed mobile hospitals that could be deployed to the scene of a crisis on flatbed trucks and provide advanced medical care to the injured and sick within 72 hours.
Each hospital would be the size of a football field, with a surgery ward, intensive care unit and X-ray equipment. Medical response teams would also have access to a massive stockpile of emergency supplies: 50 million N95 respirators, 2,400 portable ventilators and kits to set up 21,000 additional patient beds wherever they were needed.
In 2006, citing the threat of avian flu, then-Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger announced the state would invest hundreds of millions of dollars in a powerful set of medical weapons to deploy in the case of large-scale emergencies and natural disasters such as earthquakes, fires and pandemics.
“In light of the pandemic flu risk, it is absolutely a critical investment,” he told a news conference. “I’m not willing to gamble with the people’s safety.”
The state's supply of mobile hospitals, ventilators and N95 respirators would have helped in the coronavirus outbreak, but the state got rid of them years ago.www.latimes.com
Trump received an intelligence briefing in late 2019 warning of a potential COVID-19 pandemic and a further serious warning via Navarro's memo in January 2020. In February 2020 the US shipped 17 tons of PPE and ventilators to China, VP Mike Pence tweeted video of the stock being loaded onto transport aircraft.