US President Donald Trump on Thursday criticised states and hospitals for requesting medical supplies to cope with the coronavirus pandemic, calling them “complainers” that should have stocked up on supplies “long before this crisis hit.”
“Some have insatiable appetites & are never satisfied,” Trump wrote in one of two tweets scolding states and health facilities that he claimed have already received “massive amounts of medical supplies” from the federal government.
The insults from Trump, who downplayed the pandemic for weeks before acknowledging the scope of the crisis in recent days, came after the nation’s top infectious disease expert said as many as 200,000 people in the US may die from the virus. As of Thursday, there were more than 216,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US and 5,100 deaths.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency has asked the Pentagon for 100,000 body bags in anticipation that funeral homes will be overwhelmed in the coming weeks.
Officials in hard-hit regions have been pleading with Trump’s government for weeks to send help and medical resources, including ventilators, masks and other personal protective equipment.
New York state, where the coronavirus death toll doubled in 72 hours to more than 1,900 on Wednesday, has predicted a major shortfall of supplies. New York Mayor Bill de Blasio said Wednesday the city needs 3.3 million N95 masks, 2.1 million surgical masks, 100,000 isolation gowns and 400 ventilators by Sunday to meet a surge of cases anticipated early next week.
Trump, who has praised himself over his handling of the outbreak amid widespread criticism of his government’s haphazard response, has repeatedly brushed off reports that hospitals and other medical providers are experiencing a shortage of tests, ventilators and personal protective equipment for workers. He has also insisted that it’s the responsibility of state governments to find their own solutions.
“The federal government’s not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk. We’ll help out wherever we can,” the president said at a news conference in March.