Donald Trump has taunted governors over their coronavirus testing shortage allegations, holding up a thick list of laboratories he said some “did not understand” were available in their states even as the local chiefs executive say they need more testing kits.
Though he did not use his name, the president singled out Maryland governor Larry Hogan, who on Sunday in a television interview, accused the president and his team of making false claims about states having ample testing kits.
“The governor of Maryland didn’t really understand,” Mr Trump said. “He didn’t really understand what was going on.”
The US president rarely resists firing back at a political critic, even if it is a member of his own party who governs a typically blue state, as does Mr Hogan. But Mr Trump also went after Democrats.
“It used to be ventilators, ventilators, ventilators. Now, it’s testing, testing, testing,” Mr Trump said of Democratic governors and other officials from that party.
The president made the allegation in a pair of tweets that also amounted to Mr Trump again saying he knew best that state governments were requesting too many ventilators a few weeks back. Since, however, tens of thousands of infected Americans have passed away, driving down the need for the breathing machines.
The remark again revealed an increasingly aggrieved US president as he, for the second time on Monday, described Democrats as trying to use the pandemic to hurt him politically.
Mr Trump’s loyal No 2, vice president Mike Pence, later said governors should have all the testing kits they need to move into the first phase of reopening their states, so long as they meet other White House-set standards — though it remains unclear how many governors will even follow the administration’s three-pronged plan for getting states back to normal.
Hours after barrels of oil were trading at levels below $0, Mr Trump shrugged off the crude slide that also dragged down US stock markets, with the Dow Jones Industrial Average losing nearly 600 points.
He called the unprecedented oil price situation as “largely a financial squeeze,” adding some “people got caught” because the price per barrel several months down the road is $28. “And boy, they got squeezed,” he said of investors who on Monday were paying others to take worthless oil off their hands.
The problem is, with much of the world on lockdown because of the virus, “nobody’s driving the car”, he said.
Mr Trump brought military men out to tout efforts by the Army Corps of Engineers and the US Public Health Service.
Army Lt Gen Todd Semonite walked reporters through a slide show of temporary hospitals the engineer corps has built in several states. But the three-star general also undercut the administration’s contention that the virus is not spreading.
Lt Gen Semonite, though declining to name locations, announced the corps soon will build a handful of additional makeshift hospitals to supplement existing medical facilities in “more remote locations”.
That suggests there are more coronavirus cases in rural areas than hospitals can handle, triggering local officials to contact the Corps of Engineers.
One item needed to conduct more tests are cotton swabs.
Brad Smith of the Centres for Medicare and Medicaid Services announced the president will do something he has been reluctant to do: He will use the Defence Production Act to obtain new swabs from a company in Maine.
Previously, Mr Trump had said he prefers to use the act as a “hammer” during negotiations with firms rather than simply enact the law to force them into an emergency era production of an item they otherwise would not make.