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Donald Trump and Gov. Andrew Cuomo are continuing to clash. They've been exchanging words over New York's need for ventilators. On Monday Trump told "Fox & Friends" on Fox News that New York will be "fine" and that it doesn't need more ventilators.
Perhaps it's not that much of a surprise that Trump is unwilling to admit that New York has a serious need for the ventilators. He was initially denying that the coronavirus was even a threat. Sunday he had to walk back his desire to have the country opened up again by Easter and agreed to extend social distancing guidelines until the end of April. Perhaps acquiescing about ventilators was a further step he just couldn't take.
"I think New York should be fine based on the numbers that we see. They should have more than enough [ventilators]," he said in the Monday morning interview. "I'm hearing stories that they're not used or not used them right. We find anywhere from 2 to 4,000 that have been sent and aren't used. We've done a job. Now, we're still getting more ventilators ... after this is over they'll be selling ventilators for a dollar apiece — we'll have a lot of them."
Cuomo asked for 30,000 ventilators, noting that hospitals in the state only had about 4,000 at the beginning of coronavirus COVID-19. Trump told Sean Hannity in a phone interview on Thursday night that he had "a feeling" some states were asking for more equipment than they needed.
"I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators," he said.
Cuomo answered by telling NBC News, "That's a numerical projection from the rate of increase. My job is to follow that science, follow that data. I hope they're wrong. I hope I don't need 40,000. I hope I don't need 30,000."
He was talking to NBC News at the Jacob K. Javits Convention Center in Manhattan. The U.S. Army Corps of Engineers has converted it into a 1,000-bed hospital. "I hope this whole facility, Lester [Holt], stays empty, and we built it for nothing," the governor concluded
The governor told CNN that the president was "incorrect and uninformed."
Trump added on Monday, "How do you go from 10 to 20 to 30,000 to 300,000, though this is different. Something is going on. And you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going?" He suggested a nursing conspiracy to steal masks.
Additionally, he dismissed Trump's notion that masks and other medical equipment are being stolen. "I don't know what that means. I don't know what he's trying to say," said the governor. "If he wants to make an accusation, let him make an accusation."
Trump spoke more about Cuomo, about his recent popularity in particular. "One of the reasons his numbers are high on handling it is because of the federal government," he said. "We give him ships, we give him ventilators, we give him all the things that we're giving him. ... One of the reasons he's been successful is because we've helped make him successful."
Asked why he flipped his plan to loosen social-distancing guidelines by Easter, he said it had just dawned on him on Sunday how many people might die if those measures were lifted. He gives a nightly press briefing, so it's unclear why he didn't see that until Sunday.
"If we didn't shut it down ... I used to say, a lot of people said, could you just have kept it going? Like the flu, a bad case of the flu, a really bad case," he told Fox & Friends. "And the answer came in yesterday through Dr. Fauci and Deborah Birx. ... If we did that, if we just kept business as usual and didn't do anything to stop or impede it, 2.2 million people could have died."
"The federal government has done far more than if anybody else was president," he continued. "If Sleepy Joe was president, he wouldn't even know what's going on. You know that. I mean everybody knows that."
He was asked at the end of the interview by Ainsley Earhardt, "How can we pray for you?"
Trump answered, "The Bible is clear, we need to pray for our leaders, and we are praying for you. Many in this country are clinging to God right now." He added that for Earhardt to be praying for him was a "great honor."
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