The president spoke about his communications with state leaders during Tuesday's virtual town hall on Fox News. Trump said he was confident he and the U.S. governors could work together to combat the deadly disease, but suggested some lawmakers hadn't done enough to help their states. He specifically referenced New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, who recently blasted the federal government for only sending 400 ventilators to his state: "You want a pat on the back for sending 400 ventilators?" Cuomo said about the FEMA shipment. "What am I going to do with 400 ventilators when I need 30,000? ... You pick the 26,000 people who are going to die because you only sent 400 ventilators."
Trump apparently caught wind of Cuomo's comments and felt unappreciated.
"Usually we'll have 50 governors that will call it the same time. I think we are doing very well," he told Fox News. "But you know, it’s a two-way street. They have to treat us well, also. They can’t say, 'Oh, gee, we should get this. We should get that.' We’re doing a great job like in New York where we’re building, as I said, four hospitals. We’re literally building hospitals and medical centers."
Trump then cited a recent "report" that claimed Cuomo had previously rejected thousands of ventilators several years ago. The president apparently got this information from the Gateway Pundit—an extreme right-wing outlet that has been known to propegate conspiracy theories.
"We’re doing probably more for [Cuomo], definitely more for him, than anybody else and he was talking about the ventilators, but he should have ordered the ventilators," Trump said. "And he had a choice, he had a chance, because right here, I just got this out, that he refused to order 15,000 ventilators, I’ll show this to Bill [Hemmer], take a look at that, Bill. This says, 'New York Governor Andrew Cuomo rejected buying 16,000 ventilators in 2015 for the pandemic, for a pandemic, established death panels and a lottery instead.'
"So he had a chance to buy, in 2016, 16,000 ventilators at a very low price and he turned it down. I’m not blaming him or anything else. But he shouldn’t be talking about us," Trump continued. "He’s supposed to be buying his own ventilators. We’re going to help, but if you think about Gov. Cuomo, we’re building him four hospitals, we’re building him four medical centers, we’re working very, very hard for the people of New York, we’re working along with him, and then I watched him on the show, complaining."
Trump has been very vocal about his desire to reopen the American economy within the matter of weeks, despite warnings from health experts. The president said his goal was to loosen restrictions on social distancing by Easter (April 12).
"Easter is a very special day for me ... Wouldn't it be great to have all of the churches full? You know the churches aren't allowed, essentially, to have much of a congregation there ..." Trump said. "You'll have packed churches all over our country. I think it would be a beautiful time ... I'm not sure that's going to be the day, but I would love to aim it right at Easter."