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Trump just accused healthcare workers of stealing and selling masks. Yes, he stooped that low.

The President peddled a conspiracy theory about why there's a massive shortage in the supply of Personal Protective Equipment at an official press conference.

Trump just accused healthcare workers of stealing and selling masks. Yes, he stooped that low.
Image Source: President Trump Holds Daily Coronavirus Task Force Briefing In Rose Garden. WASHINGTON, DC - MARCH 29. (Photo by Tasos Katopodis/Getty Images)

The Coronavirus epidemic shows no signs of slowing down in the United States. As more and more patients fill hospital wards, healthcare workers are struggling to deal with a severe shortage in Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) such as masks, gloves, and gowns. Doctors and nurses in New York, one of the worst-hit states in the country, have therefore pleaded for quick replenishment from the state and the federal governments. Instead of doing his best to give those at the frontlines the tools they need, President Donald Trump just accused them of stealing masks and selling them during a press conference on Sunday, Vox reports.




The President was speaking to reporters about the dire shortage of protective masks throughout the country when he mentioned New York, where over 140,000 Americans have been infected with COVID-19 as of March 30. He implied there was something strange about the shortage in New York particularly. "Something is going on, and you ought to look into it as reporters," he stated. "Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? How do you go from 10,000 to 300,000?...  I just don’t see, from a practical standpoint, how that’s possible to go from that to that." Trump later added, "I don’t think it’s hoarding... I think maybe it’s worse than hoarding."



Did President Trump just suggest that our nation's health workers, those risking their lives every single day to combat one of the largest epidemics in recent history, are stealing masks and selling them? Yes. The assertions the President made were completely baseless. Of course, his remarks drew immense criticism from those working in healthcare as well as New York state officials. At his daily Coronavirus briefing on Monday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo stated, "I don't know what he's trying to say. In terms of a suggestion that the PPE equipment is not going to a correct place, I don't know what that means. I don't know what he's trying to say. If he wants to make an accusation then let him make an accusation. But I don't know what he's trying to say by inference."



The president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, Kenneth Raske, also weighed in on the President's comments in an official statement. "New York’s health care workers are treating exploding numbers of COVID-19 patients around the clock - willingly and without complaint," he affirmed. "The only thing they ask for in return is adequate amounts of Personal Protective Equipment... They deserve better than their president suggesting that PPE is ‘going out the back door’ of New York hospitals." In response to the criticism, his campaign tweeted a video of Governor Cuomo at a press conference on March 6 in which he says, "There have been thefts of medical equipment and masks from hospitals, believe it or not - not just people taking a couple or three, I mean just actual thefts of those products." Cuomo later clarified that he asked state police to investigate the thefts and look at places that are selling masks - not the healthcare workers themselves.



At this crucial time, Trump can do a lot more to ensure our country's doctors have the tools they need. While he cannot singlehandedly stop crime, he can make sure there are no gaps in the supply of PPE through the Defense Production Act. He has wavered on doing so, invoking the act only to require General Motors to hasten production and lower the cost of their ventilators. Nonetheless, he could be utilizing the Act more effectively. But why doesn't he want to? He's afraid the United States will become a "socialist country." He explained during a Coronavirus press briefing last week, "We’re a country not based on nationalizing our business. Call a person over in Venezuela; ask them how did nationalization of their businesses work out. Not too well. The concept of nationalizing our business is not a good concept." While the brave health workers at the frontlines struggle to keep up with exponentially increasing numbers of COVID-19 cases, President Trump's inaction will only worsen this public health crisis.



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