Trump to send coronavirus aid worth $100M to Italy while medical supply shortages persist in the US

Trump to send coronavirus aid worth $100M to Italy while medical supply shortages persist in the US
Mike Pence, Donald Trump and Steven Mnuchin (Getty Images)

At a time when the US and Italy are at the bottom in the coronavirus list of affected, President Donald Trump said Washington would send medical supplies worth $100 million to Italy. However, his statement comes at a time when hospitals across America are worried over the shortage of the same at home (USA) in the times of the pandemic that has claimed the lives of 0.78 million people globally.

While the US is now home to the most number of confirmed coronavirus cases with 164,274, Italy has seen the most number of deaths (11,591). The death toll in the US is over 3,000 while Italy is the only other nation other than the US where the number of affected people has crossed the six-figure mark (101,739). 

“We're going to be sending approximately $100 million worth of things, of surgical and medical and hospital things to Italy,” Trump told reporters in the White House Rose Garden on Monday, March 30. “And Giuseppe was very, very happy, I will tell you that, they're having a very hard time,” he said, referring to Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte. The Republican leader said he had spoken to Conte and pledged the help, although the White House was yet to send a readout of the call. 

Trump’s philanthropic stance came after he had a talk with various governors across the country many of whom warned the former that they were in need of supplies as well, CBS News reported. The president has found himself at odds with the governor of the state like New York over the call for help over generators and ventilators. He said recently that the states were calling for more than they actually needed, sparking a political controversy. 

Democratic governors not happy to compete for supplies

Steve Bullock, the Democratic governor of Montana, who is running for the Senate, told Trump that he had his order of supplies scrapped a number of times since the federal government was busy buying them. 

“I could give four or five examples over the last week where we have supply orders, and they've subsequently been canceled, and they're canceled in part because what our suppliers are saying is that federal resources are requesting it,” he reportedly told Trump who has faced criticism over his handling of the coronavirus crisis. Bullock also warned that rural America could see real problems if there was no access to testing, something over which the Trump administration has faced flak. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo, who has also found himself at odds with the president, who spoke publicly over the bidding war that has taken shape between the states, federal government and even the private hospitals. On Monday, Cuomo said in a statement: “We're in a situation where you have 50 states all competing for supplies. The federal government is also competing for supplies, private hospitals are also competing for supplies. So we've created a situation where you literally have hundreds of entities looking to buy the same exact materials.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during his daily news conference amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 20, 2020, in New York City (Getty Images)


Trump, however, has a unique take as always. He said there would be excess of medical supplies after they are made and distributed among the hospitals in the US and will be sent for Italy’s welfare. “As we outpace what we need, we're going to be sending them to Italy, we're going to be sending them to France, we're going to be sending them to Spain where they have tremendous problems,” Trump said. “And other countries when we can.”

The president's words came after new Ford Motor Co. vowed to make 50,000 ventilators over the next 100 days at a plant in Michigan in conjunction with General Electric's healthcare unit. 

The US had famously come up with the Marshall Plan for helping Western and Southern Europe to rebuild itself after the devastations caused by the Second World War.

Trump might be looking at leaving a solid legacy by extending a similar help to nations in West Europe that have been badly hit by the pandemic but is the US in a position to do so?

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