AOL News: Donald Trump has suggested hospital workers in New York of stealing and possibly selling face masks “out the back door” during an astounding press conference on Sunday evening.
Today, Donald Trump accused nurses of stealing masks and running a black market.
Not only is there no bottom, but we have punched down into another universe.
— Bill Prady (@billprady) March 29, 2020
Standing in the White House’s Rose Garden the president asked reporters to look into the supposed illegal activity but provided no evidence to back up his claims aside from increased demand for supplies from hospitals swamped by the coronavirus pandemic.
“For years [suppliers] have been delivering ten to twenty thousand masks. OK, it’s a New York hospital and it’s packed all the time but how do you go from ten to twenty thousand to 300,000?”
“Something’s going on and you ought to look into it as reporters.
"How do you go from 10 to 20 to 30,000, to 300,000 [masks]…? Something is going on. And you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going?" Trump asks, suggesting that hospital workers are stealing masks. pic.twitter.com/oDWIAOUfFx
— Caroline Orr (@RVAwonk) March 29, 2020
“Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door? And we have that in a lot of different places so somebody should probably look into that because I just don’t see from a practical standpoint how that’s possible.”
As for masks, they are single use and New York-Presbyterian Hospital for instance employs 20,000 people.
Just seconds before Trump’s comments, a businessman involved in the production of face masks explained he was trying to produce “forty to fifty million” extra face masks to deal with the crisis in the US.
He added: “Even with a significant ramp up in supply, there is still that demand that is much greater than that supply.”
He made no mention of hoarding, stealing or selling of face masks yet Trump said some of his clients “could well be in trouble” over the supposed disappearing of them.
I heard that Trump is going to get the team he had searching for Obama's Kenyan birth certificate looking for all those stolen face masks https://t.co/LAqlOnMKzs
— Dean Baker (@DeanBaker13) March 30, 2020
Asked by a reporter to explain his comments more fully, Trump said: “I don’t think it’s hoarding, I think it’s worse than hoarding.”
He added: “I don’t know, I don’t know, I think that’s for other people to check out.”
Earlier on Sunday Trump also accused hospitals of hoarding ventilators but did not cite any evidence to back his accusation.
Critics have accused him of trying to deflect blame over his handling of the crisis.