Trump was supposed to be honoring nurses on National Nurse Day.
Donald Trump on Thursday questioned the first-hand account of a nurse, who said there is a lack of personal protective equipment for health care workers battling the coronavirus on the front lines across the country.
Sophia L. Thomas, the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, was one of a group of nurses who attended a National Nurse Day celebration at the White House on Wednesday.
She told Trump that personal protective equipment, or PPE, availability at hospitals across the country has been "sporadic," and that she herself has been using the same N95 mask for "a few weeks now."
"I mean, I talk to my colleagues around the country. Certainly there are pockets around the country where PPE is not ideal, but this is an unprecedented time," Thomas said at the event.
But Trump — who has touted his administration's response to the COVID-19 pandemic — disputed Thomas' account.
"Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people," Trump responded.
Trump added that he's "heard the opposite" about PPE.
"I have heard that they are loaded up with gowns now," Trump said. "We had empty shelves and empty nothing because it wasn't put there by the last administration."
Trump's failure to stockpile PPE and life-saving ventilators early this year, when the World Health Organization was warning that the novel coronavirus was spreading, has been well documented amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
Reports of nurses wearing garbage bags to protect themselves while they worked because hospitals lacked gowns circulated, leading to a public outcry.
Trump, for his part, blamed governors for not procuring PPE themselves.
However, governors said the lack of federal leadership exponentially drove up the prices of PPE, as states had to bid against each other to procure equipment. In some cases, the federal government even seized the PPE hospitals were ordering.
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.