President Donald Trump raised some eyebrows on Friday when he told a reporter not to "be a cutie pie" amid questions about the coronavirus pandemic. ABC News reporter Jonathan Karl was asking the president about the United States' short supply of ventilators at a press briefing. Trump responded with what many are calling a condescending remark.
Karl was asking the president for specifics on Friday during a White House press conference. He asked whether Trump would be able to assure "these states, these hospitals, that everybody who needs a ventilator will get a ventilator. The president did not give a specific response to the question, instead remarking: "I think we're in good shape."
.@jonkarl presses Pres. Trump on whether everyone who needs a ventilator will get one. “Look, don’t be a cutie pie,” Trump responds, claiming “we’re in great shape.” https://t.co/uxvSisKJ4b pic.twitter.com/6gkjO9JtQG— ABC News (@ABC) March 27, 2020
"This is a pandemic the likes of which nobody's seen before," he went on. "I think we're in great shape. I think that, number one — ventilators [are] a big deal — we've distributed vast numbers of ventilators, and we're prepared to do vast numbers. I think we're in great shape, I hope that's the case."
"I hope that we're going to have leftovers, so we can help other people, other countries," the president added.
Karl pressed on, re-iterating his question and looking for a direct promise from the president that everyone who needs a ventilator will get one. It was here that Trump changed his tone.
"Look, don't be a cutie pie, okay?" he said. "Nobody's done what we've been able to do."
Not the response I expected. https://t.co/u2nD4cMjlI— Jonathan Karl (@jonkarl) March 27, 2020
In the coverage that followed on TV and on social media, pundits debated the president's claims about his administration's handling of the coronavirus crisis. Meanwhile, many patients all over the U.S. continue to suffer from a lack of ventilators nationwide.
Ventilators are breathing-assistance machines used for everything from severe flu cases to coma patients. According to a report by The New York Times, public health officials have been trying to solve the U.S.'s ventilator shortage since 2009, but have repeatedly come up short. The machines are bulky and expensive to make, but despite streamlines in the design in the last decade, the supply has remained short.
"Health care workers responsible for managing severe life-threatening cases like Covid-19 are extremely concerned regarding their ability to use appropriate support for large numbers of patients expected to suffer respiratory failure," Australian medical professor David Story told The Guardian. "In essence, this means that many will not be able to be treated with mechanical ventilation and difficult decisions will have to be made by staff, families and patients about the limits of support. There are many ethical dilemmas in this, and none can be easily resolved."