Governors slam Trump over 'inadequate' coronavirus response, warn of ventilator shortage as death toll spikes

Governors of New York, Louisiana, Washington, Michigan, and Arkansas have expressed disappointment over the shortage of medical gear to fight the outbreak

                            Governors slam Trump over 'inadequate' coronavirus response, warn of ventilator shortage as death toll spikes
Illinois Governor JB Pritzker, President Donald Trump (Getty Images)

The federal functioning of the United States has come under a lot of stress with the arrival of the novel coronavirus pandemic. At a time when the pandemic refuses to be tamed across the country, political partisanship has taken over the headlines.

President Donald Trump has been seen engaging in debates with states over provisions of adequate testing kits and other medical equipment to deal with the crisis that has claimed nearly 10,000 lives in the country. The White House led by the POTUS, however, has patted its back over the response it has come up with to fight the pandemic. 

On April 5, the political division came to the fore once again as Democratic governors lashed out at the Trump administration it has not done enough to fight the outbreak and blamed the President for more deaths in the coming days alleging that he failed to act early.

The US has the most number of affected people in the world at the time of writing of this article (337,638) while the total number globally is over 1.2 million. The Trump administration has been accused time and again of doing too little too late and fighting the wrong wars, like against the media. 

Meanwhile, Illinois Democratic Governor JB Pritzker lashed out at the Republican commander-in-chief saying he had not built up medical stockpiles two months before. “If they had started in February building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems we have today and, frankly, very fewer people would die,” Pritzker told on CNN’s ‘State of the Union’.

Trump hits back at Pritzker, says he's always complaining

Trump, though, was in no mood to let it go. He hit back during the coronavirus task force briefing saying Pritzker was always complaining. 

“He’s always complaining. We’re building a 2,500-bed hospital in McCormick Place. It’s a big convention center in Chicago. And we’re helping to staff it and probably will end up staffing it because he’s not able to do what you’re supposed to be able to do as a governor,” the 73-year-old said. 

The President also spoke about the list of supplies that are being shipped to various states that are hit hard, including 500 to the Prairie State. “Just think about that: 500 ventilators. A ventilator is a big deal,” Trump said at the briefing, which was arranged hastily.

Trump has had his share of debates with New York Governor Andrew Cuomo in recent times over the supply of ventilators. He has been heard indicating that equipment sent by the federal government to states has not always been properly distributed. He also questioned the need to send New York, the worst affected state, 30,000 ventilators. 

Governors of NY, Louisiana, Washington speak up

In New York City that has seen deaths, the US Military has set up a 2,500-bed hospital at the Javits Convention Center which is expected to reduce the pressure on the healthcare system. A hospital ship in the form of USNS Comfort has also been sent to aid the hospitals that are struggling to deal with the pandemic. 

Governor Cuomo said that New York’s death rate saw a dip for the first time on April 5 (630 to 594) but warned that it could be a “blip” and sought rapid testing and taking the right decision for reopening as necessary steps to see life crawling back to normalcy. 
Louisiana’s Democratic Governor John Bel Edwards said his state will face ventilator shortage on April 9, and it has been problematic to acquire new ones. 

Washington state’s Democratic Governor Jay Inslee said testing has been a nationwide problem and that Trump should use the Defense Production Act to order companies to make more ventilators. The state though has seen a reduction in the number of cases. 

“We governors — Republicans and Democrats — have been urging the President to do what he should, which is if he wants to be a wartime President show some leadership, mobilize the industrial base of the United States. That is what we need,” Inslee said on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press’

Michigan Governor Gretchen Whitmer (Getty Images)

Michigan GOP governor says 'no national strategy'

Gretchen Whitmer, the Governor of Michigan, which has also been hit badly by the pandemic with more than 14,000 cases and 540 deaths (as of April 5), said the hospitals in her state are at capacity and did not have personal protective equipment for the healthcare personnel. She thanked the federal government for whatever medical aid her state got and stopped short of waging a political battle with Trump. “Not having a national strategy where there is one policy for the country is creating a more porous situation where COVID-19 will go longer,” she told ‘Fox News Sunday’.

Even governors from the GOP have expressed their disappointment. Asa Hutchinson, the Republican Governor of Arkansas, said on 'Meet the Press' that getting medical equipment was like a “global jungle” with the states indulging in an intense race to outbid each other for the essential items required to beat COVID-19. “I’d like to see a better way,” he said. He said being outbid on supplies “has been challenging for us, but we recognize the Federal government has said we are your backstop, you have to get out there and compete.”

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