President Donald Trump told Fox News host Sean Hannity on Thursday evening that he believes that the coronavirus battle will not require the number of medical equipment pieces that have been requested by some states.
Trump has been the subject of criticism over the distribution of medical equipment from federal stockpiles, with some state governors saying they do not have enough ventilators available to properly care for patients hospitalized with COVID-19.
“FEMA says, ‘we’re sending 400 ventilators,” New York Governor Andrew Cuomo said at a Wednesday news conference. “Really? What am I going to do with 40 ventilators when I need 30,000?”
Newsweek reached out to Governor Cuomo’s office for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.
“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said for some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be,” Trump said. “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, at a major hospital sometimes they’ll have two ventilators. All of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?'”
“Look, it’s a very bad situation,” the president continued. “We haven’t seen anything like it. But the end result is we gotta get back to work and I think we can start by opening up certain parts of the country.”
While many lawmakers have asked Trump to use the powers of the Defense Production Act (DPA) in order to impel American manufacturers to create more medical equipment, the president said companies have “stepped up” and volunteered to make them on their own.
“I haven’t had to use [the DPA],” Trump said. “We had Ford step up, General Motors step up, 3M step up, so many companies stepped up and they’re making vast amounts of things but when you talk about ventilators, that’s sort of like buying a car. It’s very expensive, it’s a very intricate piece of equipment, heavily computerized and the good ones are very very expensive.”
“They say, like Governor Cuomo and others, we want 30,000 of them. 30,000!” Trump exclaimed. “You go to hospitals, they’ll have one in a hospital and now all of a sudden everybody’s asking for these vast numbers.”
However, Trump said his relationship with Cuomo had improved and that New York would be receiving an adequate amount of help, if not everything the governor had asked for.
“I don’t think that certain things will materialize,” Trump said, “a lot of equipment is being asked for that I don’t think they’ll need, but we’re building four hospitals, four medical centers and many other things.”
Trump announced Thursday during a coronavirus task force news briefing that the USNS Comfort, a hospital ship, was expected to dock in New York Harbor to assist health care workers with coronavirus patients. Not originally planned to complete retrofitting for coronavirus care for another three weeks, Trump said the ship was expected to arrive Saturday.
“This is tremendous,” Trump told Hannity. “These are warships. These are ships that take care of the soldiers in battles and they are big and powerful.”