The federal government has been shipping masks to states and hospitals “continuously,” America’s chief emergency manager said Sunday, though was unable to give even a rough number of how many have gone out amid the coronavirus crisis.
“It is a dynamic and fluid operation,” Peter T. Gaynor, administrator of the Federal Emergency Management Agency, told CNN’s “State of the Union.”
“We’ve been shipping continuously from federal warehouses and connecting those governors who need supplies to the private sector,” he said.
Mr. Gaynor also said President Trump still hasn’t used the Defense Production Act to compel the production of gear because companies are stepping forward to offer equipment.
President Trump tweeted Sunday that automakers Ford, General Motors and Tesla have been given the “go ahead” to make ventilators and “other metal products,” though it was unclear what permission they received or needed from the federal government.
CNN host Jake Tapper said the lack of figures on dispatched gear is “alarming” because it makes people wonder whether the equipment is going out, as governors plead for more.
Mr. Gaynor still could not offer figures but insisted his agency is focusing every minute of every day to meet demand, especially in hot spots like New York and Washington state.
He said there’s not only a demand nationally, but globally for this equipment, so FEMA is encouraging states to buy equipment wherever they find it.
“If you find it on the market, go ahead and buy it. FEMA will reimburse it for you,” Mr. Gaynor said.
Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, a Democrat, said it feels like the “wild west” as states vie for limited supplies and are forced to overpay for equipment on the open market.
“We’re all competing against each other,” Mr. Pritzker told CNN. “This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government.”
The governor said FEMA has been helpful, however, since it took charge of the response in recent days.
Mr. Gaynor encouraged Americans to play their role in the fight by staying home and maintaining social distance.
“There will be a brighter day in a few weeks,” he said.
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