Local officials around the country like New York City’s Mayor Bill de Blasio (D) have been urgently requesting assistance from the federal government in dealing with the Coronavirus outbreak, but President Donald Trump has been slow to respond — at best. He’s so far refused to even invoke the Defense Production Act, under which he could order emergency mass production of medical supplies that locales like New York City need. During an appearance this weekend on Meet the Press, de Blasio insisted that Trump’s inaction could help leave people to die who might be able to be saved otherwise. The situation in New York City has proven that significantly dire.
.@jaketapper on Defense Production Act: "Has the president, as of now … ordered any companies to make more of any of these critical supplies?"
FEMA head Peter Gaynor: "No. We haven't yet."
Trump said twice Friday that not only had he invoked DPA, but he had begun using it. pic.twitter.com/WSkMYgUicR
— Aaron Blake (@AaronBlake) March 22, 2020
The city is facing shortages not just of supplies but of hospital space. As of Saturday evening, at least 1,450 people had been hospitalized in the city because of the virus, and that number was quickly climbing.
De Blasio told NBC host Chuck Todd:
‘The truth is, and New Yorkers and all Americans deserve the blunt truth, it’s only getting worse. And in fact, April and May are going to be a lot worse… The president of the United States is from New York City and he will not lift a finger to help his hometown, and I don’t get it. Right now, I have asked repeatedly for the military to be mobilized, for the Defense Production Act to be used to its fullest… I can’t be blunt enough: If the president doesn’t act, people will die who could have lived otherwise. Senior citizens, folks who are members of families — and we can’t get action from the president of the United States.’
Mayor de Blasio: "If there are ventilators being produced anywhere in the country, we need to get them to New York … in the next 10 days." pic.twitter.com/glKsNuddx7
— Meet the Press (@MeetThePress) March 22, 2020
As of early Sunday, New York City has more confirmed Coronavirus cases than apparently about any other locality in the country, with local totals approaching one case per 1,000 residents as of late Saturday — which is an astronomical number. That rate of infection spreading elsewhere could prove even more devastating than the outbreak already has been. As of late Saturday, besides the over 1,600 hospitalizations, the city also faced 8,115 cases and counting, and 60 deaths, and all of those numbers are rapidly climbing.
– 8,115 positive cases
– 60 fatalities.
– 2,484 in Brooklyn
– 2,254 in Queens
– 1,868 in Manhattan
– 1,071 in the Bronx
– 437 on Staten Island.
– at least 1,450 people hospitalized, at least 370 in the ICU.
— katie honan (@katie_honan) March 22, 2020
De Blasio wants the military’s medical capacity to be mobilized, he explained over the weekend. In recent days, Trump claimed that Navy hospital ships would be deployed to help increase the health care system capacity of hard-hit areas, but it turned out that at the time of his comments, both ships in question were actually undergoing maintenance work, and one apparently didn’t even have a designated medical crew.
The hospital ship Comfort, promised to NYC, won’t be ready for another “two weeks plus,” SecDef Esper says.
Why didn’t the administration give it the order to start getting ready 2 weeks ago?
This is a foreseeable disaster. https://t.co/G5HEtQ6P84
— Max Boot (@MaxBoot) March 19, 2020
California Governor Gavin Newsom (D) — who’s one of a growing number of state leaders who’ve ordered that all their residents stay at home as much as possible except for essential trips — also recently requested a hospital ship. In his request, he noted a projection that more than half of the state’s entire population could contract the Coronavirus.
Meanwhile, confirmed case totals continue to grow nationally and globally. The U.S. as a whole has flown past 27,000 confirmed cases, and the country has faced at least 347 deaths so far.