Trump to Governors on Ventilators: Try Getting It

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Trump to Governors on Ventilators: Try Getting It

On a conference call with the nation’s governors, President Trump said they should try to get ventilators on their own ahead of an expected crush of coronavirus cases.

WASHINGTON — President Trump told a group of governors on Monday morning that they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to treat people with coronavirus.

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times. “We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”

The suggestion surprised some of the governors, who have been scrambling to contain the outbreak and are increasingly looking to the federal government for help with equipment, personnel and financial aid. Last Wednesday, Mr. Trump directed his labor secretary to increase the availability of respirators, and he has generally played down fears of shortages.

Governors Jay Inslee of Washington, whose state is at the epicenter of the domestic outbreak, and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico both reacted angrily to the administration’s slow response to the crisis.

“If one state doesn’t get the resources and materials they need, the entire nation continues to be at risk,” said Ms. Lujan Grisham, a Democrat.

But Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida, a Republican ally of the president’s, told reporters Monday afternoon that Mr. Trump was attempting to tell the governors that if they can get the ventilators themselves they can “cut out the federal bureaucracy and potentially get it quicker.”

“What he was saying,” Mr. DeSantis continued, “was sensible.”

Mr. Trump used much of the call to repeat the same upbeat theme he has offered in public, assuring the governors: “We’re going to get it remedied and hopefully very quickly.”

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