Politics Trump Told Governors to Buy Own Virus Supplies, Then Outbid Them
Governors Seeking Coronavirus Help Can’t Keep Trump at Arm’s Length
On the whole, the feelings of America’s governors, whose health departments are on the front line of the escalating health crisis, are complicated when it comes to Mr. Trump and his federal response to the outbreak. Mr. Trump has won praise, particularly from Republican governors, and there has been relief that some in the administration appear to be making good-faith efforts to work with governors, even those whom Mr. Trump has verbally pummeled. But his administration’s response has also elicited frustration about the slow rollout of testing kits and Mr. Trump’s confusing and seemingly off-the-cuff statements.
President Donald Trump’s directive for governors to buy their own medical supplies to fight the coronavirus has run into a big problem -- the federal government.
Massachusetts Governor Charlie Baker told Trump during a video conference on Thursday that his state three times lost out to the federal government on purchases of critical supplies, creating an awkward moment during the made-for-TV event at Federal Emergency Management Agency headquarters in Washington.
NY, NJ, Connecticut to close bars, eateries to fight virus
Bars, restaurants and movie theaters are being shuttered at 8 p.m. Monday throughout New York, New Jersey and Connecticut because of the coronavirus, the states' governors said. The governors said essential businesses like supermarkets and gas stations will be able to stay open after 8 p.m., though all non-essential businesses must close. Restaurants will be able to offer take-out and delivery. The steps mark the latest escalation of efforts to keep people apart in the New York metropolitan area, and an attempt to coordinate a response.“We've got to work through this together. The feds have been asleep at the switch," Connecticut Gov.
“I’ve got a feeling that if someone has the chance to sell to you and to sell to me, I am going to lose on every one of those,” a sheepish-sounding Baker told Trump, who chuckled at the remark.
The president replied he still wants governors to seek out their own medical equipment, like protective gear for doctors and nurses as well as respirators, but acknowledged the federal government has greater buying power than any state.
“Prices are always a component of that also. And maybe that’s why you lost to the feds, OK, that’s probably why,” Trump said.
At Trump’s request, Vice President Mike Pence responded that “we want to facilitate all the states and the health care providers in your states to be able to access that supply chain as it becomes more robust.”
Trump to Governors on Ventilators: ‘Try Getting It Yourselves’
President Trump told a group of governors on Monday morning that they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to treat people with coronavirus. “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times. “We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.
When New Mexico’s governor raised similar concerns later in the call, Trump said he would ask FEMA to ensure there were no conflicts with purchases in the future.
Trump earlier Thursday repeated his belief that the onus should be on the states -- and not the federal government -- to obtain needed equipment to combat the pandemic, saying his administration is not a “shipping clerk” for the supplies that could potentially save lives.
Mnuchin: Virus task force unanimously shunned Trump's quarantine idea .
Public health experts have criticized the idea of instituting statewide quarantines in “hot spots” like New York.The president “did very seriously consider” the idea of locking down the tri-state area of New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, Mnuchin said on “Fox News Sunday.” But Trump was dissuaded after a meeting with the task force led by Vice President Mike Pence.