On Tuesday, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo lashed out at FEMA in a press conference about the coronavirus pandemic. The governor held a press conference on the severity of the outbreak in his state, saying that the aid the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was sending did not come close to what New Yorkers needed.
"FEMA is sending us 400 ventilators ...400 ventilators? I need 30,000 ventilators!" Cuomo said on Tuesday. He delivered a furious response to the aid allotted to his state, saying that experts were "missing the magnitude of the problem." In outraged tones, he asked: "you want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?"
CUOMO: "FEMA is sending us 400 ventilators ... I need 30,000 ... you want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators? ... you're missing the magnitude of the problem." pic.twitter.com/9VtzlvVOEb— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 24, 2020
Cuomo was not the only one to get angry with FEMA this week. On Sunday, the organization's administrator Peter Gaynor promised that vital supplies like surgical masks were being shipped out to hospitals in need, yet he did not give any numbers or details. He spoke in an interview with ABC News' This Week.
"They have been distributed. They've been distributed over the past couple of weeks. They're shipping today. They'll ship tomorrow," Gaynor said.
"I mean, it is hundreds of thousands of millions of things that we're shipping from the stockpile. I can't give you the details about what every single state or what every single city is doing," he went on, when pressed for specifics. "But I'm telling you that we are shipping from our national stockpile, we're shipping from vendors, we're shipping from donations. It is happening. The demand is great."
In another interview on CNN that same day, Gaynor confirmed that President Donald Trump has not yet begun using the Defense Production Act to get companies to manufacture the supplies needed for the coronavirus pandemic. Gaynor claimed that the donations from companies were enough, and the DPA was not needed so far.
FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor says Pres. Trump hasn’t enforced the Defense Production Act to order companies to manufacture masks, ventilators and other critical supplies because companies are donating equipment. “It’s happening without using that lever.” #CNNSOTU pic.twitter.com/2KYfE4ccHw— State of the Union (@CNNSotu) March 22, 2020
"It's happening without using that lever," he said. "If it comes to a point we have to pull the lever, we will."
This contradicted Trump's insistence in a press briefing on Friday that his administration was already "using" the DPA to produce ventilators, masks and respirators for the nation's hospitals. However, the president backtracked on Saturday himself, saying that the companies were "volunteering" to make those supplies, but "we have the act to use, in case we need it."0comments
Cuomo criticized Trump on Tuesday in addition to FEMA, especially for some of the president's rhetoric around the virus. In particular, he railed against some of the president's comments this weekend where he suggested ending social distancing practices early for the sake of the economy.
"My mother is not expendable. And your mother is not expandable," Cuomo said. "We're not going to accept a premise that human life is disposal. We're not going to put a dollar figure on human life."