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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.

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

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:

A tweet previously embedded here has been deleted or was tweeted from an account that has been suspended or deleted.

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

Chris Cuomo accuser: On-air "hypocrisy" spurred report

Journalist Chris Cuomo. Photo: Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

A woman who accused fired CNN journalist Chris Cuomo of sexual misconduct said Sunday she decided to come forward after learning of his comments about women who made similar accusations about his brother. He denies her allegations.

Why it matters: Her attorney Debra Katz said in a statement that she heard "the hypocrisy" of his on-air words about his brother, former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, and was "disgusted by his efforts to try to discredit these women," so "retained counsel to report his serious sexual misconduct against her to CNN."

Updated 4 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Omicron dashboard

Illustration: Shoshana Gordon/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director says number of U.S. Omicron cases "likely to rise" — Two years of COVID-19 — Prior coronavirus infections may not protect well against Omicron.
  2. Vaccines: Data demonstrates most-vaccinated counties less vulnerable to worst of COVID — Omicron adds urgency to vaccinating world — Omicron fuels the case for COVID boosters.
  3. Politics: Nevada to impose insurance surcharge on unvaccinated state workers — New Jersey GOP lawmakers defy statehouse COVID policy — Oklahoma sues Biden administration over Pentagon vaccine mandate.
  4. World: Vaccine mandates lose steam in the U.S. while Europe doubles downWHO: Delta health measures help fight Omicron — COVID cases surge in South Africa in sign Omicron wave is coming.
  5. Variant tracker: Where different strains are spreading.

Vulnerable Democrats: Less Trump talk

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

Vulnerable House Democrats are convinced they need to talk less about the man who helped them get elected: President Trump.

Why it matters: Democrats are privately concerned nationalizing the 2022 mid-terms with emotionally-charged issues — from Critical Race Theory to Donald Trump's role in the Jan. 6 insurrection — will hamstring their ability to sell the local benefits of President Biden's Build Back Better agenda.