Technology Trump shrugs off responsibility for any hospital equipment shortages by saying it's up to states
Health care braces for shortages of supplies due to coronavirus
The US Food and Drug Administration is aware of "spot shortages," but nothing widespread yet, of medical devices due to the coronavirus epidemic. Of particular concern are personal protective equipment such as masks, respirators, gloves and surgical gowns. "The FDA has heard reports of increased market demand and supply challenges for some of these products," Hahn said.Orders are up, he added, as US hospitals "are preparing for potential future need if the outbreak were to become more severe."While there may be no widespread shortages yet in the US, the global picture may be more dire.
shrugged off responsibility for combating , saying Thursday there are "millions" of masks available to workers but that it was up to individual states to ensure they are well stocked amid the pandemic.
His comments contrasted sharply to pleas from health care workers who are running out of surgical masks and fear there won't be enough ventilators to treat patients who contract the disease.
And it came as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention began advising nurses they could begin using bandanas or scarves as makeshift masks when treating patients with coronavirus -- guidance Trump said he was unfamiliar with and that came as a surprise to the White House when it was reported early Thursday.
Health officials warn US government does not have enough stockpiled medical equipment to deal with coronavirus
Top health care officials said Monday that there is not enough stockpiled medical equipment like masks, gowns and gloves to fulfill the anticipated need of nation's health care system as it deals with the coronavirus. © JEFF PACHOUD/AFP via Getty Images A scientist is at work in the VirPath university laboratory, classified as "P3" level of safety, on February 5, 2020 as they try to find an effective treatment against the new SARS-like coronavirus, which has already caused more than 560 deaths.
Increasingly defensive in the face of questions about his administration's response, Trump said his administration was scaling up its purchase of masks but that states would need to sort out who gets them. He said "nobody in their wildest dreams" would have anticipated the need for more ventilators, which hospitals worry may run short as more patients require them.
Only a day earlier, Trump said he was signing a Korean War-era law allowing the government to force industry to scale up production of necessary equipment. But he later suggested he was wary of utilizingand wanted governors to act first.
"Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work," Trump said. "The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items, and then shipping. We're not a shipping clerk."
Pelosi urges Trump to tap emergency war powers immediately
Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on President Trump to use emergency war powers he invoked just a day earlier to immediately press industry to accelerate production of medical supplies."Right now, shortages of critical medical and personal protective equipment are harming our ability to fight the coronavirus epidemic, endangering frontline workers and making it harder to care for those who fall ill," Pelosi said in a statement.
In a conference call with all 50 governors later in the day from the headquarters of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, Trump was pressed on approving block grants to states as well as on the issue of protective equipment and testing kits, both of which some localities have complained are in short supply.
Trump was largely self-congratulatory in his responses and delegated substantive answers to Cabinet officials and Vice President Mike Pence, who advised the governors that unless their states are "in the middle of critical response" they should go through normal supply chains to obtain the needed equipment.
The issue of shortages in essential supplies needed to treat coronavirus has emerged as a fresh challenge to an administration already under scrutiny for its slow response to the outbreak. Lawmakers and governors have urged Trump to use his executive powers to scale up production and individual physicians and nurses have pleaded for a new influx of supplies.
NYC coronavirus: Hospitals could run out of needed supplies by next week, De Blasio says
New York City hospitals will only be able to get through this week before they get "to a point where people can't be saved" because of equipment shortages, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio tells CNN.New York City hospitals will only be able to get through this week before they start getting "to a point where people can't be saved" because of equipment shortages, New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio told CNN on Monday.
"This is really for the local governments, governors and people within the state, depending the way they divide it up," Trump said.
He added that if he determines there are shortfalls in essential supplies he would invoke the Defense Production Act. And he suggested questions about his willingness to do so were evidence of media bias.
"You don't know what we've done -- you don't know whether or not we've ordered -- you don't know if we've invoked it. You don't know what's been ordered, what's not been ordered," he said, even though in a tweet on Thursday evening he wrote he would only invoke it "it in a worst case scenario in the future."
Earlier in the day, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi called on Trump to use the Defense Production Act to ramp up production of needed equipment.
"There is not a day to lose," she said. "We must put more testing, more protective equipment and more ventilators into the hands of our frontline workers immediately."
Speaking in the same briefing as Trump, Pence said 35 million medical masks were now available to hospitals after an increase in production by Honeywell and 3M. He attributed the change to legislation signed this week that loosened liability regulations on mask makers, allowing the in-demand N95 model to be used in hospitals.
Trump quietly seeks allies' coronavirus help even as he insists 'a lot is being done'
The US has reached out to South Korea and other nations for help in getting enough supplies to fight the coronavirus pandemic in a sharp counterpoint to President Donald Trump's narrative that the domestic response is enough to combat the crisis. © Chung Sung-Jun/Getty Images SEOUL, SOUTH KOREA - FEBRUARY 26: Disinfection professionals wearing protective gear spray anti-septic solution against the coronavirus (COVID-19) at a traditional market on February 26, 2020 in Seoul, South Korea. Government has raised the coronavirus alert to the "highest level" as confirmed case numbers keep rising.
"It's a very important change," Pence said.
Still, Trump and Pence's efforts to cast a rosy glow over the coronavirus outbreak appeared to contradict reality as health care workers raise concerns about supply shortages.
"The President may say that things are being produced, but they sure as heck are not showing up in my state or in the states of all of my colleagues across the country," Dr. Megan Ranney said on CNN shortly after Trump spoke. "We need those masks and gowns now."
Asked about the discrepancy between his own assessment that "millions" of masks were available and the anecdotal reports of strapped hospitals, Trump couldn't answer.
"I cannot explain the gap," he said. "I'm hearing very good things on the ground."
During a meeting between Trump and a group of nurses at the White House on Wednesday, a large portion of the conversation revolved around securing more personal protection equipment for health care workers on the front lines of the coronavirus outbreak, according to a person who was in the room.
In the discussion, the President sought to understand why there would be a shortage in that equipment now as opposed to the regular flu season, the person said. After some explanation, the President seemed to understand the concept that the supply was not currently meeting the demand.
The nurses in the meeting applauded Trump for signing the Defense Production Act, and were taken aback when it appeared later he wasn't planning to use it right away to scale up production of badly needed equipment.
"When I saw it on the television," said Dr. David Benton, a nursing industry representative who was at the meeting, "I thought, it's somebody writing the stuff for him."
"It was so disassociated from what he said this morning at the news conference and what he said to us," Benton said, describing the tweet as "not connected to where the President was."
Benton, the CEO of the National Council of State Boards of Nursing, said the need for more supplies was raised several times over the course of the meeting at the White House, both in terms of the need for more personal protective gear and for more ventilators.
"The President did ask about ventilators in terms of how important they were," Benton said. Members of the group "described to the President how critical these are in terms of getting people back on the road to recovery."
UWS Staff Blame Supply Shortage For Nurse's Coronavirus Death .
Mt. Sinai West nurses say shortages that have them using trash bags as gowns led to an assistant nurse manager's death, the Post reports.UPPER WEST SIDE, MANHATTAN — Nurses at Mount Sinai West who have resorted to wearing trash bags as gowns say supply shortages are likely are to blame for the death of an assistant nurse manager who came down with coronavirus, according to the New York Post.