The governor of Illinois has derided Donald Trump’s apparent unwillingness to release ventilators from a national stockpile for states suffering major coronavirus outbreaks, saying “he does not understand the world federal” in a new interview.
JB Pritzker suggested the global pandemic would not have caused such deadly outbreaks across the country had the White House taken better preparatory steps during an interview with CNN on Sunday, as the Covid-19 death toll neared 10,000 in the United States.
“The president does not understand the word federal,” the Democratic governor said about comments Mr Trump previously made criticising states for not having their own stockpiles to deal with the pandemic.
“If they had started in February building ventilators, getting ready for this pandemic, we would not have the problems we have today,” he added, “and frankly, very many fewer people would die.”
His comments came after Mr Trump spent much of last week attacking governors across the country for allegedly being “totally unprepared” to cope with an influx of Covid-19 patients.
At a press briefing on Friday, the president said: “We have a federal stockpile, and they have state stockpiles, and frankly they were, many of the states, they were totally unprepared for this.”
“So we had to go into the federal stockpile, but we’re not an ordering clerk,” he added: “They have to have for themselves.”
Mr Pritzker said on Sunday that it was the administration’s job to fill a national stockpile in the event of a major crisis, and that the federal government has far more capabilities to prepare for a pandemic than any single state.
“There’s no way that we can stockpile in anticipation of a pandemic that no one anticipated, and yet the federal government is responsible for doing precisely that,” the governor said. “And we now know that intelligence sources and all the best advice that was given, was given in January and early February to the president and the White House, and they seemed to not have acted at all upon it.”
Had the federal government better prepared for the coronavirus pandemic, Mr Pritzker concluded: “We would not have the same problems we have today, and frankly very many fewer people would die.”