Following the shortage of protective masks, the White House’s coronavirus task force has refused to say when more masks will be available for health care workers across the country.
During a press conference on Saturday, the U.S. President Trump stood defensive over his response to the fast-growing COVID_19. Most shocking was how the President blamed the past administration for supply shortages and accusing health care workers of throwing away masks, encouraging them to reuse and “sanitize” masks instead.
Other officials also neglected repeatedly asked questions by reporters on when exactly preventive mask supplies would reach the health care workers who need them while informing that doctors and nurses across the U.S. are complaining of dangerously low reserves of personal protective equipment and are being forced to reuse what they have now.
FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor is so evasive in his statements about when surgical masks will be distributed by the federal government that even Trump calls him on it pic.twitter.com/CJj0oqImhG
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 21, 2020
The U.S. Vice President, Mike Pence assured that the administration had ordered “hundreds of millions” of N95 masks, which filter 95% of airborne particles while stating that the Federal Emergency Management Agency would help distribute them to states that need them.
But he didn’t mention when, and where that would happen, even when a reporter further pushed Pence again on the same matter, he deferred to FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor.
Gaynor assured that the preventive masks are “out there now,” but didn’t give further detail even when Trump asked when the masks would arrive. He also asked the public to help “take a little burden” off the government.
“This is a shared responsibility. We’re asking locals and states to do your share locally, to try and take a little burden off of us and we’ll prioritize those scarce resources,” Gaynor said.
Some states are receiving more equipment through a reserve of medical supplies saved for national emergencies known as the Strategic National Stockpile, according to Admiral Brett Giroir, the assistant secretary for health.
Giroir said that the Department of Health and Human Services was sending out that stockpile “on a daily basis as they are needed and requested through the FEMA system.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, followed that up by noting there was still a national shortage of masks and supplies.
“It is happening. You’re not making things up,” he told reporters. “I know that because I’m experiencing it myself.”
Dr. Fauci tells CNN correspondent “You’re not making things up” after Trump denies there’s a supply shortage. pic.twitter.com/n42DzfKqZM
— TPM Livewire (@TPMLiveWire) March 21, 2020
Trump then took the podium to complain about health care workers, whom he accused of irresponsibly throwing masks away.
“Why aren’t we sanitizing masks?” Trump asked. “You look at the masks, I’ve looked at all the different masks. Some don’t lend themselves to doing that but many do. … We have very good liquids for doing this, sanitizing the masks, and that’s something they’re starting to do more and more of.”
In response to Trump’s claim made at the press conference, Dr. Megan Ranney, a practicing emergency physician and Brown University professor, told HuffPost that she does not believe health care professionals are throwing masks away.