Trump Downplays Governors’ Worries As They Sound Alarm on Lack of Federal Help

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Trump Downplays Governors’ Worries As They Sound Alarm on Lack of Federal Help

During his press briefing today at the White House, Trump said that he would rate Vice President Pence’s call with governors a “ten,” saying that none of the governors raised a voice or asked the administration to do anything different. In response, Coronavirus War Room Director Zac Petkanas issued the following statement:

“From the White House briefing room, Trump has been trying to con Americans into believing that governors across the country approve of his response to the coronavirus crisis. And now, he’s trying to make Americans believe that his administration isn’t refusing to take steps that would help them.

“No matter what Trump claims, governors have been clear about the dire situation they face in their states and how the Trump administration hasn’t done enough to help. They have been left alone to deal with overwhelmed hospitals, thousands of healthcare workers without personal protective equipment and patients without ventilators. Governors are at the forefront of fighting coronavirus, and it’s long past time for the Trump Administration to provide the support they need.”

Here’s a rundown of what governors are really saying about Trump’s response to coronavirus: 

  • Governor Larry Hogan (R-MD): “We’ve Got People Dying.” “On a conference call, Mr. Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland, had just learned that several South Korean companies were ready to ship more coronavirus test kits to his state. But they were stymied because the Food and Drug Administration had not yet approved their use. ‘I don’t care if we have F.D.A. approval or not… We’ve got people dying,” he said, adding, ‘I don’t want to wait for permission.’ …[Hogan] has bluntly demanded more aid from Washington, including more test kits and supplies and help shoring up state budgets. ‘We’re still not satisfied’ with the federal response to states’ needs, Mr. Hogan said this week.” [New York Times, 4/3/20]
    • Governor Larry Hogan: “I get calls from governors every single day. We’ve had 12 calls now with every single governor in America, eight of which the president and/or vice president was on the call with us. And I can tell you that nearly every single governor — I had a call with the FEMA administrator just yesterday afternoon…. I think to say that everybody’s completely happy and that we have everything we need is — is not quite accurate. I mean everybody still has tremendous needs on personal protective equipment and ventilators and all of these things that you keep hearing about. Everybody’s fighting to find these things all over the — all over the nation and all over the world.” [ABC, This Week, 4/12/20]
  • Governor Charlie Baker (R-MA): “We’re Killing Ourselves” Trying To Make Supply Orders Happen. “Finding enough [supplies] has… increasingly pushed the oft-diplomatic Baker into a publicly combative stance, challenging the Trump administration to do more. The frustration spilled into public view Thursday, when the second-term Republican became animated in discussing the ‘incredibly messy thicket’ the state has had to navigate to get equipment. His administration has watched orders ‘evaporate,’ he vented. The phrase ‘quote-unquote confirmed,’ he said, doesn’t necessarily mean that anymore. ‘I’m telling you, we’re killing ourselves trying to make it happen,’ Baker said.” [Boston Globe, 3/27/20]
  • Governor Chris Sununu (R-NH), referring to the state’s request to get its allotment of medical equipment from masks to ventilators from the federal stockpile: “I have been pretty much up front with my frustration with FEMA… It’s been slow and has been a bit discombobulated… New Hampshire traditionally has not been in the PPE (Personal Protective Equipment) business, but we are today.” [Union Leader, 3/25/20]
  • Governor Phil Scott (R-VT): “Ventilators are an issue. It’s unfortunate, but because we have this patchwork of states all trying to get the same type of protective equipment necessary for employees, in some cases we are competing. We need to coordinate better. I’m working with our neighbors to make sure we’re not competing and are actually working together and trying to order, when we can, together… We’re going to need more from the feds, but we’re also going to have to do more as a state. ” [Vermont Public Radio, 3/31/2020]
  • Governor Laura Kelly (D-KS), referring to the federal government’s lack of a coordinated response on supply provision: “We are never going to solve this problem if states are continually forced to bid against each other and against the federal government. It’s creating widespread confusion, and it’s delaying every state’s response effort, including Kansas’… “First responders are defenseless without masks, gowns and other gear to protect them from this highly contagious virus.” [Laurence Journal World, 4/6/20]
    • Governor Laura Kelly, on the federal government’s approach to distributing supplies: “This is not something that we should ever be faced with… It really is the federal government’s responsibility to build those stockpiles, and distribute those [supplies] during the time of crisis.” [Politico, 4/13/20]
  • Governor J.B. Pritzker (D-IL), on states being forced to fend for themselves: “If we had relied on the White House and its obligation to fulfill our needs from the SNS, our state and nearly every state in the United States would come up short and could not protect our health care workers and our first responders…But here’s the good news…We haven’t trusted what we were told by the White House.” [CNN, 4/6/20]
    • “My team is sorting through the shipment of 300,000 N95 masks the White House personally told me would be sent to our state, and while we do not have a final count on this yet, I can say with certainty that what they sent were not the N95 masks that were promised but instead were surgical masks, which is not what we asked for.” [CNN, 3/31/20]
    • “They Were Just Caught Completely Unprepared.” In an interview with Vanity Fair’s Nick Bilton, Pritzker said: “The failures of the White House, of the president, have visited greater illness and greater number of deaths across the country… They were just caught completely unprepared. When there was any realization within his administration that this was a massive potential crisis—the president was publicly downplaying it, publicly saying that this is a hoax, or that this is just like the flu, it’ll pass right on by, no problem—when finally he was faced with the death toll and the case numbers rising rapidly, I think you saw there was one press conference finally where he came out and was reading from a script.” [Vanity Fair, 4/10/20]
  • Governor Andy Beshear (D-KY), on the inability to order PPE due to federal intervention: “Our biggest problem is that just about every single order that we have out there for PPE, we get a call right when it’s supposed to be shipped and it’s typically the federal government has bought it…It’s very hard to buy things when the federal government is there and anytime they want to buy it, they get it first.” [WFPL, 4/4/20]
  • Governor Jared Polis (D-CO): “We can’t compete against our own federal government [for supplies]. So either work with us, or don’t do anything at all. But this middle ground where they’re buying stuff out from under us and not telling us what we’re going to get, that’s really challenging to manage our hospital surge and our safety of our health care workers in that kind of environment.” [Denver Post, 4/4/20]
  • Governor Phil Murphy (D-NJ) on the federal government’s handling of the crisis: “FEMA actually delivered two tranches [of ventilators] this week … And those have come in, and that’s good news, and we’re grateful for that. But we’re using them as fast as we’re getting them and, unfortunately, got word overnight that not all of them are in functioning condition…. Anecdotally, at least 15 of them were not at the level they needed to be….It certainly does, however, feel like and – we’re going to have to do a massive national postmortem on this – it feels like we entered this war, and it is a war, with less ammunition than we needed, a lot less. And so that’s going to be a challenge. In other words, we’re grateful for what we’ve got, but we need a lot more, and that continues to be the case.” [NPR, Morning Edition, 4/3/20]
  • Governor Steve Bullock (D-MT), on the struggle to get supplies for testing and treating patients: “Up until last week, the most that we could get from the CDC at any one time was 600 tests…At every — almost every single state is dealing with this issue as well as PPE.” [CNN, New Day, 4/2/20]
    • “465,000 masks is the current need. I received 79,000 from the national stockpile in total. I’ve received almost as many masks from my neighbors to the east in North Dakota as I have from the national stockpile. And, yes, I’m making — placing those orders on the private side of this, and I’ve had orders cancelled in the past… if I can only get 17 percent of my requests through the national stockpile, we have to go to the private market. But what we see time and time again, states bidding against one another, a lack of supply, and, like, the administration, they talked about Operation Airbridge, where they’re bringing these big planes from supplies overseas. Immediately then, everything that’s brought, 80 percent of it is just dumped into the private market. So then governors are competing against one another, and at times the federal government to try to get these supplies… What Democrats and Republicans have been saying is the states are managing this, but we’re not getting the support from the federal government that we need.” [CNN, New Day, 4/2/20]
  • Governor Tim Walz (D-MN), on the ability to test: “One of the frustrations that came up was the testing issue, I think the frustration came up for me that I heard yesterday in the [President’s] briefing that there is massive testing that the states just don’t know how to use it, and I’m here to tell you not a single governor agreed with that and not a single governor is not fretting over trying to get these testing regimens up because of understanding how critical it is as we come through this first wave,” [KEYC, 4/1/2020]
  • Governor Andrew Cuomo (D-NY), on the country’s ‘patchwork’ approach to supply provision: “Time to say to that federal government and to FEMA and H.H.S.: You have to learn how to do your job…And you have to learn how to do it quickly.” [New York Times, 3/31/20]
    • New York Governor Andrew Cuomo: “You now literally will have a company call you up and say, ‘Well, California just outbid you… It’s like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator.” [New York Times, 3/31/20]
  • Governor Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI): “Michigan, like states across the country, Republican and Democratic-led, we’re struggling to get the PPE that we need. We’re struggling to make sure that our nurses and doctors on the frontline have the N95 masks that are so precious. We’ve gotten a few of our shipments out of the strategic — the national stockpile. But the fact of the matter is the latest one had zero of these masks, and that’s what is so crucial right now.” [CNN, Situation Room, 3/27/20]
    • “We’ve entered into a number of contracts. And as we are getting closer to the date when shipments are supposed to come in, they’re getting cancelled or they’re getting delayed. And we’ve been told that they’re going first to the federal government.” [CNN, Situation Room, 3/27/20]
  • Governor Ned Lamont (D-CT): “It was disturbing today to find out that the national strategic stockpile is now empty. We did get 50 ventilators, for which I am very thankful,” Governor Ned Lamont said. “For now we are on our own. For now we are doing the best to scour the globe for PPE (personal protective equipment) as best we can.” [Reuters, 3/31/20]
  • Governor John Bel Edwards (D-LA): “Edwards said the Trump administration has not yet given him assurance that the state will get the ventilators it needs, stating, ‘We know that ventilators are in short supply for everyone. All states are having this issue to one degree or another… But over the past few weeks, we’ve put in orders with the national stockpile, for example, through FEMA, but we’ve also pursued manufacturers and vendors trying to place orders for about 12,000 ventilators. I think, thus far, we’ve received 192. That is inadequate to the task… If we stay on this present growth curve that we’re on, with respect to coronavirus cases, we believe that by about April 4 or so in the New Orleans area, we will exceed our capacity for ventilators. And obviously, that’s not where we want to be.’” [Axios, 3/29/20]
  • Governor Tony Evers (D-WI), of the struggle to find ventilators for sick patients: “Frustration level is high… We’re hoping we’ll be able to get them. The federal government needs to help us with that. There’s no question.’” [Washington Post, 3/31/20]

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