On Monday, CBS News reported that several governors of rural states complained to President Donald Trump on a conference call that their states were facing serious shortages of protective gear and testing material that were getting ignored. Trump’s response was reportedly to deny that there was even a problem.
“I haven’t heard about testing in weeks,” said Trump on the call, which also included Vice President Mike Pence, Labor Secretary Eugene Scalia, FEMA Administrator Pete Gaynor, and Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx. “We’ve tested more now than any nation in the world. We’ve got these great tests … But I haven’t heard anything about testing being a problem.”
Trump’s response was to Gov. Steve Bullock (D-MT), who warned him that Montana is “one day away” from running out of tests and needs federal assistance to provide more. As of March 29, Montana has tested fewer than 4,500 people.
Although testing has ramped up recently in the United States, many other nations were much quicker to test people on a large scale.
One of the governors to object to this characterization was Gov. Mark Gordon (R-WY). “We understand the challenges in New York. I have family in New York,” said Gordon. But he added, “I think a little bit of supply going our way could get us better prepared going forward.” To which Trump replied, “Good point,” and asked him to call if he needs anything.
Trump has faced heavy criticism of how he is allocating resources to combat the pandemic. He dragged his feet on invoking the Defense Production Act, which has forced a number of states into bidding wars with each other for lifesaving equipment.