Donald Trump is in the midst of a two-day “meltdown” over a report from his administration’s Department of Health and Human Services that identified a critical shortage of necessary medical supplies at the nation’s hospitals amid the coronavirus outbreak, a commentator says.
Writing for New York Magazine, opinion writer Jonathan Chait accused Trump of trying to bury the report and snapping at reporters who brought it up on both Monday and Tuesday. The report was compiled from interviews with 323 hospitals, with the 40-page report showing what he called “horrifying” conclusions that medical staff are exposed to patients infected by the coronavirus and don’t have enough personal protective equipment. The report also noted that there is not yet widespread testing, as Trump had repeatedly promised would be happening.
Though Chait noted that the report is meant to guide the federal government’s response and identify gaps in medical care to be addressed, Trump has taken it as something of a personal attack against him. He took aim Inspector General Christi Grimm, who was in charge of putting together the report, at one point questioning who she was or when she was appointed. When one reporter pointed out that report was not her personal opinion, Trump refused to believe it.
“It still could be her opinion. When was she appointed? When was she appointed?” Trump said, to which a reporter replied that she had been appointed to her current position in January. Grimm has been in the inspector general’s office through several presidential administrations, dating back to Bill Clinton.
Trump has been criticized for a slow response to the coronavirus outbreak that included several weeks of statements downplaying the virus and claiming that it would soon go away in the United States. As it has continued to spread and the total number of cases neared 400,000, many governors have criticized the Trump administration for what they see as a disjointed system of distributing much-needed medical supplies and equipment, with states bidding against the federal government. Trump has pushed back against these criticisms, saying that the federal government is not meant to serve as a “shipping clerk” for states.
Trump continued his attack on the report later on Tuesday, taking to Twitter to question why Grimm had not issued a similar report about the outbreak of the swine flu that took place under Barack Obama and led to more than 17,000 deaths.
Why didn’t the I.G., who spent 8 years with the Obama Administration (Did she Report on the failed H1N1 Swine Flu debacle where 17,000 people died?), want to talk to the Admirals, Generals, V.P. & others in charge, before doing her report. Another Fake Dossier!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) April 7, 2020
As Chait pointed out, Grimm had published a 57-page report about the swine flu outbreak in September 2009 and a subsequent report about its aftermath three years later.