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Regarding NYC Testing and Protective Equipment, Disbelieve Everything Trump Says

Trump maintains there's adequate nationwide PE and testing, despite FEMA's claim to the contrary
Photo: John Hain from Pixabay

Are Trump's daily briefings on the status of the novel coronavirus in America helping the country?

Well, it all depends upon how much you value the truth.

For weeks, Trump has been claiming that states have all the personal protective equipment they need-- enough, at least, to begin reopening the economy.

"... We're in great shape in every way," said Trump during his April 10th briefing. "We're in great shape with ventilators. We're in great shape with protective clothing.

"We have additional planeloads coming in. But we're not getting any calls from governors at this moment.  …  We're getting very few calls from governors or anybody else needing anything. They're in great shape for this surge that's coming in certain areas in particular, and that's a good job."

This, despite dozens of governors, mayors, and thousands of frontline health care workers continually pleading for more supplies and assistance.

But when government officials, such as the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), outwardly and openly contradict Trump's claims, that's when you know the country is in trouble, in more ways than one.

Shortages of Personal Protective Equipment 

FEMA and HHS said again on Tuesday that as a country, we do not have enough tests or protective equipment and not only that-- critical shortages are likely to continue. The President's failed response to the coronavirus crisis has already caused untold suffering and chaos. He needs to start being honest with the American people and come up with a nationwide plan to get the resources we need to prevent more Americans from dying."

"Demand still outstrips supply considerably.," said FEMA's Deputy Associate Administrator for Response and Recovery, David Bibo. "We continue every day to receive specific areas that are going to be out within 48 hours or 72 hours."

As a result, Bibo explained that the Administration has been analyzing private sector sales data to determine whether an urgent request is a "bona fide requirement." Bibo added, "that is not going to be the way to run a railroad in the long run."

Shortages of Testing Supplies

Dr. Carl Newman of the Department of Health and Human Services said there "needs to be more than one strategy for testing," including both diagnostic nucleic acid testing and serology testing, which tests for past exposure. He added that we are "in no danger" of having enough nucleic acid tests for everyone who needs one.

Newman said he had calls with at least a dozen state governments about their "perceived requirements" for testing, and they listed "access to swabs" and "access to reagents" needed to conduct testing.

He also said that while some states had realistic testing plans, others had plans that were more "ambitious" and "might need to be more incremental than immediate."

Lack of National Strategy for Testing, PPE and Reopening the Economy

"What we know is that while things are improving, there is still more demand than there is supply, especially for particular pieces of PPE," Bibo said. He said FEMA has "open resource requests" from "many of our regions" seeking a "range of personal protective equipment."

He said the Administration was still trying to develop "some sort of estimate" of the country's need for PPE in the coming months and identified medical gowns as an item with a particularly acute shortage.

Administration briefers had no response when Members pressed them on the lack of a national testing strategy and noted that President's Trump's new testing plan generally defers to the states.

"Testing is not going to be a problem at all," said Trump.

"In fact, it's going to be one of the great assets that we have. So we're dealing with the governors. We had a really great call today, as I told you. Very, very solid. These are—these were not complaining people. These were people that were—they had everything they needed. They had their ventilators. They have their testing."


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