KEY POINTS

  • Trump goes after both de Blasio and Cuomo, alleging New York is hoarding facemasks
  • He also accuses hospitals of hoarding ventilators
  • "How do you go from 10 to 20 to 30,000, to 300,000 (masks)?" Trump asked

President Donald Trump continues to stoke his feud with states hardest hit by the COVID-19 pandemic, questioning the local government why they need thousands of life-saving ventilators, facemasks and other medical supplies. He now also accuses hospitals of hoarding ventilators, which are life-saving pulmonary devices that allow seriously ill patients suffering from COVID-19 to breathe.

Trump didn't cite any evidence to prove his accusation hospitals are hoarding ventilators. Neither did he name these alleged hoarding hospitals. His critics noted Trump was creating a new controversy to deflect blame away from his key role in the federal government's confused and widely criticized response to the crisis.

“We have some healthcare workers, some hospitals ... hoarding equipment including ventilators,” claimed Trump without proof at the White House following a meeting with corporate executives. “We have to release those ventilators -- especially hospitals that are never going to use them.”

Trump later went on to enflame his word war with New York City mayor Bill de Blasio and New York State Gov. Andrew Cuomo (both Democrats), this time all but accusing them of hoarding facemasks. Trump wondered out loud why the demand for surgical masks has skyrocketed in New York City and elsewhere. He said reporters "oughtta look into it" because "something's going on."

"How do you go from 10 to 20 to 30,000, to 300,000 (masks) -- even though this is different," asked Trump. "Something is going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000? And, we have that in a lot of different places. So, somebody should probably look into that. I just don’t see from a practical standpoint how that's possible to go from that to that, and we have that happening in numerous places."

Trump later urged New Yorkers to ask Cuomo and de Blasio about the correct mask numbers. "People should check them, because there's something going on." He asserted that it could be "something worse than hoarding."

Without offering any proof, Trump alleged "many of the states are stocked up" on various critical supplies including ventilators -- although "some don't admit it." He then said "there's a question as to hoarding of ventilators" in which some hospitals may be keeping the devices.

Cuomo might have unintentionally given Trump the ammunition to fire at him by earlier revealing some people were stealing medical supplies in the state.

"Not just people taking a couple or three, I mean just actual thefts of those products," revealed Cuomo. "I've asked the state police to do an investigation, look at places that are selling masks, medical equipment, protective wear, feeding the anxiety."

In New York City, the US epicentre of the crisis, health workers battled a surging toll, including an increasing number of younger patients In New York City, the US epicentre of the crisis, health workers battled a surging toll, including an increasing number of younger patients Photo: AFP / Angela Weiss