Donald Trump it tried to mitigate the growing criticism of the federal response paralyzed to the coronavirus crisis on Sunday night, promising that more aid was on its way to states suffering a critical shortage of medical equipment, hospital beds and test facilities.
Like the Covid-19 death toll in the US rose to 417, with more than 33,000 cases reported across the country, an increasing number of state and local leaders have fired warnings to the White House that an inflection point is near.
The warnings were particularly strong in New York, where cases have risen sharply beyond 15,000 and now account for about half of the cases in the U.S.
Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York City, said earlier in the day that hospital supplies, including ventilators, masks and surgical gloves, would be depleted in 10 days, while Andrew Cuomo, the governor of the state of New York, warned that even 80% of the state's population of nearly 20 million was at risk of contracting the virus.
"It looks like we're alone," said de Blasio on CNN. "We saw almost nothing from the federal government at the moment."
Trump's response came at an evening press conference at the White House, during which he acknowledged "support" in some states and withdrew numbers and lists of equipment that he said were ordered for the three hardest hit states, New York , Washington and California, and others.
He also said that the US government would finance "100%" of the costs of deploying the national guard to assist in the supply chain, said that he had approved major disaster statements for the states of New York and Washington and that the corps of engineers in the army would be available to build field hospitals that provide thousands of new beds.
"Whatever states can get, they should get," said the president.
"There is a kind of support for the states, and some of them are doing very well and some of them are not. Those who do not also need more help. But these are three states that really need help because they are hit so hard."
Cuomo had urged the president to invoke the powers of the Defense Production Law for the government take over the acquisition and distribution of medical supplies and prevent states from having to compete with each other for essential equipment. He said masks that would normally cost 85 cents were costing his state, where more than 15,000 have the virus and 117 have died, about $ 7 each.
But Trump insisted that private companies trying to make much-needed equipment were the way to go. "Doing the way we are doing is much better," he said. “We have the threat to do it if we need to, but we have millions of masks being made, fans, respirators, we have a lot of good things going on now.
“Companies are calling us, General Motors told us about the use of fans. If I call companies and say: & # 39; you build fans for us & # 39 ;, they don’t even know what a fan is. "
Trump also suggested that hospitals could sterilize facial masks so they could be reused.
Dems block rescue project for lack of aid to workers
Meanwhile, in the U.S. Senate, Democrats blocked legislation that would inject $ 1 billion into the U.S. economy, claiming that the Republican bill favored the corporate interests of hospitals, healthcare professionals, cities and states. Previously, Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had publicized the stimulus that would put $ 3,000 in the hands of most American families.
Failure forces both parties to return to the negotiating table on Monday. Nancy Pelosi, the president of the House, said that Democrats can draft their own legislative proposals. "We will work with everyone to see if we can do something," said Trump. "We have to help the American worker."
Several US senators were considering the decision to quarantine themselves after news emerged that the Kentucky Republican Rand Paul had tested positive to Covid-19. Paul, 57, was swimming in the Senate gym on Sunday morning, according to CNN, and had lunch with several colleagues in the past few days, although his office insisted he was asymptomatic.
"All senators are going to seek medical advice on the steps we should take to ensure that we don't spread the virus ourselves," Utah Senator Mitt Romney told reporters. "We have to determine whether any of us should quarantine ourselves for being in the same room."
Shortly after Romney spoke, he and Utah Senator Mike Lee voluntarily quarantined. Trump, a fierce critic of Romney since the former presidential candidate was the only Republican to vote for impeachment at his recent Senate trial, expressed sarcastic sympathy. "Wow, too bad," he said.
At the beginning of the press conference, Trump had tried to give a reassuring tone that critics said was absent from previous press conferences.
"For those worried and afraid, know that as long as I am your president, you can feel confident that you have a leader who will always fight for you and I will not stop until we win," he said.
Trump also praised Cuomo and said that four new 1,000-bed field hospitals, a hospital ship that was due to arrive in New York and an increasing urgency to send medical supplies were a response to the governor's call for help.
"Time matters, minutes count and it is literally a matter of life and death," Cuomo said at his own Sunday press conference.
Also on Sunday, Ohio and Louisiana joined states like Illinois, New York and California in issuing home stay orders for residents, taking effect on Monday night. All non-essential businesses will close, although grocery stores and gas stations are among those that can remain open.
Earlier this week, Hawaii Governor David Ige instituted a mandatory 14-day self-quarantine for travelers to the state. Violating the request is now a misdemeanor punishable by a $ 5,000 fine or imprisonment of up to one year.
There is also doubt as to whether the summer Olympics in Tokyo will take place. International Olympic Committee leaders say they will decide in the next four weeks ahead with the event currently scheduled to start on July 24th.