Mar 30, 2020 - Health

Trump: Some hospitals are hoarding ventilators

President Trump during his coronavirus briefing at the White House on Sunday. Photo: Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images

President Trump claimed during a briefing at the White House on Sunday that some hospitals and health care workers were "hoarding equipment, including ventilators" and suggested reporters and states look into the increased demand for masks.

Details: Trump's comments drew criticism from Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden and the Greater New York Hospital Association, which said health care workers "deserve better than their president suggesting that PPE is 'going out the back door' of New York hospitals," in reference to Trump singling out an unnamed state hospital to question why they were using so many masks.

Zoom in: At the briefing, Trump questioned why there was such an increase in demand for masks, citing one New York hospital that he said is "packed all the time" that has gone from using 10,000–20,000 masks per week to 200,000–300,000.

  • "Something's going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters," he said. "Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000?"
"We do have a problem of hoarding. We have some health care workers, some hospitals, frankly — individual hospitals and hospital chains — we have them hoarding equipment, including ventilators. We have to release those ventilators, especially hospitals that are never going to use them. They have to release them."
— Trump's briefing remarks
  • Trump offered no evidence for his assertion, but his 2020 campaign team tweeted a video of Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) saying earlier this month, "There have been thefts of medical equipment and masks from hospitals. ... Not just people taking a couple or three, I mean just actual thefts of those products." Axios has contacted Cuomo's office for comment.

What they're saying: Biden said in a statement that Trump's claims were "ridiculous and completely false." "Today’s conspiracy mongering from our president is among the most reckless and ignorant moves he has made during this crisis, and there have been many," Biden added. The former vice president also issued a challenge to Trump via Twitter:

Why it matters: Per Axios' Joann Muller, the U.S. was caught flat-footed by the surge in demand for medical supplies needed in the treatment of the novel coronavirus with U.S. hospitals, doctors and nurses across the country reporting a shortage.

Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.

Go deeper

18 hours ago - Health

Protests against police brutality threaten coronavirus response

Protesters in Philadelphia on June 1. Photo: Mark Makela/Getty Images

Protests against police brutality have prompted the closure of coronavirus test sites across the country, including in Pennsylvania, Florida, California and Illinois, Politico reports.

Why it matters: This adds to concerns that the protests themselves create an environment in which the virus can easily spread, particularly if and when protesters aren't wearing masks or social distancing.

19 hours ago - Health

Controlling the coronavirus in nursing homes won't be easy

Data: FREOPP.org; Map: Naema Ahmed/Axios

The structural issues that have plagued U.S. nursing homes for years will make it difficult for them to prevent coronavirus infections and deaths, even though we now understand the high-risk nature of the facilities.

Driving the news: Within the 80% of nursing homes that have reported coronavirus data to the federal government, nearly 26,000 residents died, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced yesterday.

Updates: George Floyd protests continue past curfews

Police officers wearing riot gear push back demonstrators outside of the White House on Monday. Photo: Jose Luis Magana/AFP via Getty Images

Protests over the death of George Floyd and other police-related killings of black people continued Tuesday across the U.S. for the eighth consecutive day — prompting a federal response from the National Guard, Immigration and Customs Enforcement and Customs and Border Protection.

The latest: Protesters were still out en masse even as curfews set in Washington, D.C., and New York City. Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-N.Y.) slammed the New York Police Department late Tuesday following reports of police kettling in protesters on Manhattan Bridge.