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.
- The president has invoked the Defense Production Act to direct manufacturers including General Motors to build ventilators for patients affected by the virus.
- The U.S. has more COVID-19 cases than anywhere else in the world — more than 142,000 by early Monday, per Johns Hopkins data.
Editor's note: This article has been updated with new details throughout.