Trump to governors: 'Try getting it yourselves' if you need life-saving equipment to fight coronavirus
Donald Trump (AFP / Nicholas Kamm)

"This is what happens when federal government is hollowed out over decades."

As state and local leaders across U.S. continue to prepare and support their communities as they fight back against the deadly coronavirus outbreak, President Donald Trump told governors during a conference call Monday that if they need more vital medical equipment they might be better off to get it on their own.

"Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves," Trump told the governors during a phone call, according to a recording of the call obtained by the New York Times. "We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Points of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself."

As the Times reports:

The suggestion surprised some of the governors, who have been scrambling to contain the outbreak and are increasingly looking to the federal government for help with equipment, personnel and financial aid.

Mr. Trump used much of the call to repeat the same upbeat rhetoric he has offered in public, assuring the governors: "We're going to get it remedied and hopefully very quickly."

The specific comments, in addition to the reporting on Trump's call with the governors overall, received immediate rebuke:

"This is what happens when federal government is hollowed out over decades," tweeted Annie Leonard, executive director of Greenpeace USA, in response.

As the scale of the coronavirus outbreak has intensified over recent weeks, so has anger over the president's handling of the crisis, with Public Citizen last week among those calling for Trump to resign.

"In a time when protecting the nation's public health demands clear, truthful, and compassionate leadership," said Robert Weissman, president of Public Citizen, said Friday, "Trump has offered exactly the opposite."