- President Donald Trump suggested Tuesday that the federal government would give aid to governors battling the coronavirus outbreak if they “treat us well also.”
- “It’s a two-way street,” Trump said of his discussions with governors about providing their states with federal aid.
- State and local officials have called out Trump and the federal government for delays in providing them with critical supplies, like masks and ventilators, as hospitals struggle to treat patients with the virus.
- Ventilators are key in treating a respiratory illness like COVID-19, but experts have warned that America faces a shortage of critical supplies in the months ahead.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
President Donald Trump on Tuesday appeared to condition giving federal aid to fight the coronavirus outbreak on whether states “treat us well.”
During a Fox News town hall on Tuesday, Trump talked about providing critical support, like building new hospitals and supplying ventilators, to states hit hard by the spread of the virus.
“It’s a two-way street,” Trump said of his discussions with governors about providing their states with federal aid.
“They have to treat us well also. They can’t say, ‘Oh gee, we should get this, we should get that.’ We’re doing a great job.”
Trump used New York an example of how the federal government had put forward resources to support states.
“We’re literally building hospitals and medical centres,” he said. “And then I hear that there’s a problem with ventilators – well, we sent them ventilators, and they could have had 15 or 16,000, all they had to do was order them two years ago. But they decided not to do it.”
“They can’t blame us for that,” he added.
Several state and local leaders have criticised Trump’s slow response to disbursing national resources to state governments. Mayor Bill de Blasio of New York City told NBC’s “Meet the Press” on Sunday that he had repeatedly asked Trump to provide federal aid with the city’s coronavirus cases continuing to spike.
“The president of the United States is from New York City, and he will not lift a finger to help his hometown,” de Blasio said. “And I do not get it. I do not get it.”
He added: “I can’t be blunt enough. If the president does not act, people will die who could have lived otherwise.”
Gov. JB Pritzker of Illinois called out the federal government over the state’s shortage of masks and ventilators.
“This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government,” Pritzker told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday.
Trump responded to Pritzker’s comments on Twitter, saying governors shouldn’t blame the federal government “for their own shortcomings.”
“We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!” he wrote.
Trump on Tuesday told Fox News that state governments needed to get the necessary medical supplies on their own.
“We’re there to help them,” Trump said. “They need to get the gear themselves.”
More than 54,000 coronavirus cases had been reported across all 50 states, multiple territories, and Washington, DC, as of Tuesday. More than 720 people have died in the US.
Ventilators are key in treating a respiratory illness like COVID-19. But experts have warned that America faces a shortage of critical supplies in the months ahead as the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow.
A February report from the Centre for Health Security at Johns Hopkins found that the US had about 170,000 ventilators, with 160,000 ventilators ready for use in hospitals along with about 8,900 held in a national reserve.
One expert has estimated that about 1 million Americans may need ventilator treatment during the coronavirus outbreak, straining the country’s resources even if all those cases do not overlap. Shortages of other medical gear like masks have already started to affect US hospitals.
Some states have called on private companies and people to help provide medical supplies where possible. Gov. Gavin Newsom of California said at a press conference on Monday that Tesla CEO Elon Musk delivered 1,000 ventilators to help California hospitals treat patients.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.