Doctors and nurses are risking their lives while saving the lives of others and are running out of supplies, but President Trump thinks they’re stealing.
As coronavirus cases across the country have exceeded 150,000 people and 5,000 deaths, the president accused medical staff of stealing face masks and other equipment.
“They’ve been delivering for years 10 to 20,000 masks, OK. It’s a New York hospital, it’s packed all the time,” Trump said. “How do you go from 10 to 20,000 masks to 300,000? Something is going on and you ought to look into it as reporters. Are they going out the back door?”
When pressed on his statement, Trump doubled down.
“I want the people in New York to check, Governor Cuomo, Mayor de Blasio, that when a hospital that’s getting 10,000 masks goes to 300,000 masks during the same period, people should check that because there’s something going on,” Trump added.
Trump did not provide evidence to back up his claims but jumped on the state two days after New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo announced that state police were investigating the theft of medical supplies from some hospitals.
The president received backlash immediately for his comments, according to a Newsweek article.
Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said in a statement posted on Twitter that medical workers “deserve better” than Trump’s comments.
“New York’s health care workers are treating exploding numbers of COVID-19 patients around the clock—willingly and without complaint. My daughter, an ICU nurse at a New York City hospital, is one of them,” Raske said. “The only thing they ask for in return is adequate amounts of personal protective equipment. PPE is the single thing that separates them from being COVID-19 patients themselves.”
Barry Schapiro, an orthopedic surgeon in Florida, tweeted his disgust at the comments.
“Imagine… working grueling hours, risking everything, treating the sickest patients you’ve seen in your entire career, coming home and quarantining in the guest room isolated from your family for the foreseeable future…and then the president accuses you of being a thief.
“When a hospital goes from a typical number of patients under respiratory isolation to every ICU bed and entire units in respiratory isolation, it’s easy to imagine an increased need of 10-50x. Not understanding is one thing. Accusing us of lying and stealing is quite another.”
This is not the first time Trump has made controversial comments since the outbreak began. Last week a local NPR station announced it will no longer air live press briefings of Trump because it cannot verify his comments in real-time. Trump also predicted, with no evidence, that there will be suicides by the millions if the country did not reopen the economy by Easter. Since that statement, he has extended quarantine restrictions for another 30 days.