It was a bio-meth lab.
That is probably the best way to describe what Reedly code enforcement officers found, the Globe reported in “Mysterious Chinese COVID Lab Uncovered in City of Reedley CA.”
Hacked utilities, dead mice, chemicals strewn about, failing equipment – in this case holding human tissue and vials of disease – and no one there to take responsibility for the incredibly dangerous disaster in the making.
It really was a bio-meth lab.
Why did the lab/storage facility/den of toxic horrors exist in the first place? Quite possibly, only for the “Made in USA” stamp.
During the pandemic, state and federal government agencies tsunamied money willy-nilly as part of the response. Unemployment fraud, payroll protection fraud, meals for kids fraud, Gavin Newsom’s billion-dollar mask deal with a Chinese company that had never made masks before, etc. – all were on the receiving end.
And this numbing incompetence was happening alongside strictly enforced government mask, travel, school, employment, and vaccine mandates.
Kids were zealously barred from going to school, but anybody with a pulse and a government contact could sell the government anything marked “covid.” And not just in California.
Government agencies spent literally billions of dollars on testing, including the at-home tests that were given away for free until recently. And while it was not a requirement that the tests be made in the United States, from a political and public relations standpoint it really really helped a company to close the deal.
Numerous politicians from both partis raised the issue multiple times during the pandemic, pressuring agencies to find ways to “buy American.”
And that’s why Prestige chief Xiuquin Yao twice mentions the issue when emailing (Xiuquin is a Chinese national and English is not his first language – all quotes verbatim) back and forth with Reedly Code Enforcement Officer Jesalyn Harper.
Xiuquin claimed that he was essentially the chief creditor of Universal Meditech, which both went belly up and had 56,000 COVID tests recalled earlier this year, and that he just ended up with the diseases and mice and freezers and blood and tissue and needed a place to store it all, hence his choice of a former furniture warehouse with no running water as the place to store deadly pathogens.
As code enforcement does not – and should not (I’m a former city official – trust me on that) – care about a company’s “business plan,” such as it was, the emphasis of that point is rather jarring as Xiuquin tries to explain away his catastrophically grubby enterprise.
“I have full confidence in the establishment of a brand-new medium-sized production base for in vitro diagnostic reagents in this region,” Xiuquin wrote Harper. “This can partly change the situation that most of the products are imported from outside the United States, and truly Made in USA. I sincerely hope to get the understanding, support and help from you and your colleagues.”
As to the question of what was in the freezers at the site, Xiuquin wrote: “These freezers are hundreds of species cell lines that produce monoclonal antibodies and specific biological factors. These cells and substances are non toxic and non harmless. No special license has been applied by UMI. It is the core technical material for the future industrialization and the establishment of diagnostic production which Made in the United States.”
Exactly how much being in America – or, specifically, California (the recalled Universal Meditech tests were mostly distributed here) – matters to Xiuquin will hopefully be found out shortly as he told Harper in March that “I am now applying for a visa to come to the United States. The number of people applying for visas to the United States increased sharply at the US Embassy in Beijing. Now the interview has been lined up until July.”
One can only imagine his reception at the airport.23CECG00912 - 3292023-Declaration of J Harper In Support of Application for Abatement
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