New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) on Sunday lashed out against President Donald Trump over his inadequate response to the coronavirus pandemic, stating more people will die if the president doesn’t take more action.
As of Sunday, about one-third of the United States’ nearly 27,000 confirmed coronavirus cases were in New York City, de Blasio said during an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.” Hospitals across the state and country that are in short supply of ventilators and other medical equipment need to treat patients with the virus and Trump isn’t doing nearly enough to help them, the mayor added.
“The truth is, and New Yorkers and all Americans deserve the blunt truth, it’s only getting worse,” de Blasio said. “And in fact, April and May are going to be a lot worse.”
He continued: “The president of the United States is from New York City and he will not lift a finger to help his hometown. ... I can’t be blunt enough: If the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise.”
Trump, a lifelong New Yorker, changed his primary residence from Manhattan to Palm Beach, Florida, in September.
“We’re about 10 days away now from seeing widespread shortages of ventilators, surgical masks, the things necessary to keep a hospital system running,” de Blasio said Sunday. “We have seen next to nothing from the federal government at this point. We have seen — we’ve made this plea publicly, privately, letters, phone calls — very, very little has arrived.”
New York has about 50,000 hospital beds and 3,000 intensive care unit beds ― a small amount compared to the number of coronavirus cases expected to affect the state.
Both de Blasio and New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) have called on Trump to mobilize the military to help expand hospital capacity in the state. A U.S. Navy hospital ship with 1,000 hospital beds has been sent to the city to help relieve some of the stress on New York, but it isn’t scheduled to arrive until mid-April.
Trump has also given mixed messages as to whether he will invoke the Defense Production Act, a federal law enacted in response to the Korean War in 1950 to boost the production of needed supplies. As of Sunday, he had not yet invoked it despite several U.S. companies stating they would be willing to help manufacture masks and ventilators.
“I don’t get it,” de Blasio said of Trump’s response to the virus. “Right now, I have asked repeatedly for the military to be mobilized, for the Defense Production Act to be used to its fullest to get us things like ventilators so people can live who would die otherwise.”
“If there are ventilators being produced anywhere in the country, we need to get them to New York ― not weeks from now or months from now ― in the next 10 days,” he added. “And the only force in America that can do that is the military. Why are they at their bases? Why are they not being allowed to serve? I guarantee they’re ready to serve, but the president has to give the order.”
During a news conference later Sunday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo (D) echoed de Blasio’s concerns about hospital capacity and a lack of medical supplies.
“Time matters. Minutes count. This is literally life and death,” Cuomo said. “We get these facilities, we get the supplies, we will save lives. If we don’t, we will lose lives.”
All “elective, non-critical” surgeries in the state will be canceled effective Wednesday in an effort to free up roughly 25% more hospital beds, Cuomo said.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D) told CNN’s “State of the Union” on Sunday that the federal government should have issued a nationwide stay-at-home order.
“Unless we tell people to stay home and to stop interacting in the way that they were, we’re going to see more and more ― thousands more, tens of thousands of more ― deaths than we otherwise would,” said Pritzker, who issued such an order in his state on Friday.
The White House did not immediately respond to HuffPost’s request for comment.
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