As Coronavirus Pandemic Ravages United States, Donald Trump Questions Need For Ventilators

'Think of this, you know you go to hospitals that have one in a hospital and now all of a sudden everyone’s asking for these vast numbers,' the president said.

President Donald Trump speaks during a briefing on the coronavirus pandemic in the press briefing room of the White House.
Drew Angerer / Getty Images

'Think of this, you know you go to hospitals that have one in a hospital and now all of a sudden everyone’s asking for these vast numbers,' the president said.

As the coronavirus continues to ravage the United States, infecting thousands and threatening to cause a major economic crisis, President Donald Trump appears to be alternating between acknowledging and downplaying the reality of the situation. In an interview with Fox News broadcast on Thursday, the president questioned the need for more ventilators.

Per The Hill, speaking with Sean Hannity, Trump took a swipe at the governors of Michigan, New York, and Washington, casting doubt on their claims that hospitals are in dire need of more ventilators — lifesaving machines used to treat those exhibiting severe symptoms and experiencing difficulty breathing.

“I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators,” Trump said. “You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘can we order 30,000 ventilators?” he asked Hannity, before comparing purchasing a ventilator to purchasing a car.

Trump then mentioned New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo by name, suggesting that the governor’s claim that his state needs 30,000 ventilators is false. “Think of this, you know you go to hospitals that have one in a hospital and now all of a sudden everyone’s asking for these vast numbers,” the president said.

As The Hill notes, governors have urged the federal government to be more proactive, arguing that states cannot handle the pandemic alone. Cuomo openly stated that the federal government must get involved, claiming that New York has no other way to obtain enough ventilators.

Governors have also suggested that Trump needs to activate the Defense Production Act, which would allow him to order private companies to produce the medical equipment hospitals across the country desperately need. The president has thus far refused to use this power of office, however.

During his interview with Hannity, Trump criticized Washington Gov. Jay Inslee and Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer, suggesting that both have been critical of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, demanding more help to handle the crisis in their states.

The president also reaffirmed that he is looking to reopen the economy as soon as possible, despite warnings from public health experts that such a maneuver would worsen the pandemic and allow the virus to spread faster across the entire country. According to Trump, however, Americans need to “get back to work.”

“Look, it’s a bad situation. We haven’t seen anything like it. But the end result is we have to get back to work and I think we can start by opening up certain parts of the country,” he said.

Trump made similar remarks earlier in the day during a White House press briefing, arguing that the process of reopening the economy needs to start “very soon.”