Gov. Jared Polis had previously requested 10,000.
Donald Trump announced on Wednesday that his administration would provide just 100 ventilators to the state of Colorado, more than a week after Gov. Jared Polis requested 10,000 to help hospitals prepare for the coronavirus outbreak.
In his announcement, Trump shunned the state's Democratic governor, opting instead to praise a Republican ally, Colorado Sen. Cory Gardner.
"Will be immediately sending 100 Ventilators to Colorado at the request of Senator Gardner!" Trump tweeted Wednesday morning.
Before the announcement, Gardner had not said publicly that he asked Trump for the ventilators.
On March 28, Polis sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence asking for help "addressing the dire shortage of personal protective equipment (PPE) and ventilators in Colorado, as we prepare for a calamitous increase of deadly COVID-19 cases over the next few weeks."
Polis requested 10,000 ventilators, 2 million N95 masks, 4.4 million surgical masks, and other medical supplies.
Rather than help the Democratic governor, the Trump administration prevented Colorado from purchasing 500 ventilators on its own.
On Friday, CNN reported that an order of 500 ventilators placed by Colorado was canceled because the Federal Emergency Management Agency purchased them instead.
"We can't compete against our own federal government," Polis said at the time. "So either work with us, or don't do anything at all. But this middle ground where they're buying stuff out from under us and not telling us what we're going to get, that's really challenging to manage our hospital surge and our safety of our health care workers in that kind of environment."
Instead of receiving 500 ventilators, the state will now receive only a fifth of that.
"It's a racket," state Sen. Jessie Danielson, a Democrat, tweeted Wednesday morning after Trump's announcement. "This is literally racketeering. The White House is keeping 80% of the ventilators they stole from Colorado — and bestowing 20% of what they stole as a political favor."
Gardner, a first-term senator, is up for reelection in November. He has consistently supported Trump's agenda in the Senate and endorsed Trump's 2020 campaign in January 2019.
Trump has heaped praise upon Gardner.
"We went through hoaxes, we went through the impeachment scam," Trump said at a Feb. 20 rally in Colorado Springs. "And by the way, Cory was with us all the way. He didn't move, he didn't budge."
"In exchange for his '100%' support for Trump, Gardner gets 1% of the ventilators Colorado needs," the Colorado Democratic Party tweeted Wednesday, contrasting the actual number provided with the 10,000 ventilators Polis requested.
Doctors in Colorado are already discussing worst-case scenarios if they do not have enough ventilators, the Denver Post reported on Saturday. At the moment, hospitals have enough ventilators for the current patient caseload, but hospital officials warned that if the volume of patients does not slow down, they will run out in the coming week.
Ivor Douglas, a Denver pulmonologist and intensive care specialist, told the Post that he is worried doctors may soon have to decide which patients are put on a ventilator and which are not.
The Trump administration has been criticized for its slow and disjointed response to the coronavirus crisis. Trump meanwhile has assigned both blame and responsibility to governors.
"Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work," Trump said at a March 19 White House briefing. "The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we're not a shipping clerk."
As of Wednesday morning, Colorado had at least 5,429 cases of COVID-19, and at least 179 people have died, according to the New York Times. Nationally, at least 397,754 people have tested positive, and 12,956 people have died.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.