New York Mayor Bill De Blasio says Donald Trump is lying about the availability of tests for coronavirus after the president claimed states are “complaining” that the federal government has not provided equipment.
“The president is simply lying about the availability of all those components of testing, the swabs and everything,” the mayor told MSNBC on Monday. “You can’t get those things. You cannot get them.”
On Sunday, the president claimed that the states “don’t want to use all of the capacity that we’ve created” and blamed Democrat governors for “complaining” during the public health crisis.
But Democrat and Republican officials in several states have reported significant testing supplies as an impatient president continues to pressure local governments to lift quarantine measures intended to curb the spread of Covid-19. The White House “guidelines” for local governments to begin “reopening” requires tests be performed
Dr Anthony Fauci, the top health official in the White House coronavirus task force, has also confirmed the lack of national testing capacity.
The mayor said the city would need to perform “hundreds of thousands” of tests to meet the guideline criteria.
His latest remarks follow his message to the president on Sunday, during which he asked at a press conference: “Mr President, are you going to save New York City or are you telling New York City to drop dead?”
The mayor demanded the president support aid legislation for local governments proposed in a congressional stimulus package and accused the president of “turning his back” on his hometown.
He said: “What’s going on, cat got your tongue? You’re usually really talkative. You usually have an opinion on everything. How on earth do you not have an opinion on aid to America’s cities and states?”
The mayor invoked a famous New York Daily News headline (“Ford to city: Drop Dead”) referencing criticisms lobbed at former president Gerald Ford during the 1970s financial crisis.
Mayor De Blasio condemned the president’s calls to “liberate” three states with Democrat governments as right-wing protests attacked stay-at-home measures across the US.
He called on the president to “liberate” New York with Covid-19 tests:
“How about liberating New York City? … Right now, you could liberate us by sending test kits. You could liberate us by sending us stimulus aid to make up for our vast budget gap.”
Despite the president’s claims that anyone who wanted a coronavirus test could get one, only 1 per cent of the US was tested in recent weeks as local governments across the US reported test shortages while under pressure from the White House to begin “reopening” the economy.
Vice President Mike Pence claimed on Friday that the US has enough tests for states to begin “phase one” of the president’s reopening guidelines, but the plan does not have a national testing strategy. Its criteria says states should have a “downward trajectory” in cases and flu-like symptoms over a two-week period.
On 6 March, the president said that “anyone” who wanted to get a test could get one. By then, the US had tested fewer than 20,000 people.
But he also has repeatedly blamed his predecessor Barack Obama and his administration about testing shortfalls, though it was Mr Trump’s administration that was responsible for the developing the tests.
He also has claimed that the federal government isn’t responsible for “standing on street corners” to perform tests.
On Friday, Admiral Brett Giroir says the US would need to perform 4.5 million tests a month to meet the criteria for a “phase one” of the White House plan to begin reopening states.
The mayor also announced the cancellations of three major events in June, including the National Puerto Rican Day Parade, the Celebrate Israel parade, and the Pride parade on its 50th anniversary.