Donald Trump has doubled down on his claim that hospitals are exaggerating the need for medical supplies—specifically face masks.
"How do you go from 10 to 20 to 30,000, to 300,000 — even though this is different," he told reporters Sunday, during a coronavirus press briefing. "Something is going on. And you ought to look into it as reporters. Where are the masks going? Are they going out the back door."
The comments come about a week after Trump signed an executive order to prevent price gouging and hoarding of medical supplies needed to combat the global health crisis. But when pressed on these concerns during the Rose Garden presser, the president suggested New York health workers were doing something much worse than simply hoarding supplies: They may be stealing them.
"I want the people of New York to check – Governor [Andrew] Cuomo, Mayor [Bill] de Blasio – that when a hospital that’s getting 10,000 masks goes to 300,000 masks in a rapid period, I would like to check that. I hear stories like that all the time," he said. "We’re delivering millions and millions of products and all we hear is: ‘Can we get some more?’ I heard that from one of the great companies of the world at doing this ... I think people should check that because there’s something going on. I don’t think it’s hoarding, I think it’s maybe worse than hoarding. Check it out, check it out. I don’t know, I think that’s something for others to figure out."
Trump came under fire this week after he questioned the widespread demand for ventilators. He raised his doubts during an interview with Fox News's Sean Hannity on Friday, shortly after Gov. Cuomo made an urgent request for 30,000 more ventilators for state hospitals. Yamiche Alcindor of PBS NewsHour questioned Trump about these comments during Sunday's briefing.
"... You said repeatedly that you think some of the equipment that governors are requesting, they don’t actually need," she said.
"I didn’t say that ... Why don't you act in a little more positive? It's always trying to get me. Getcha getcha. And you know what? That’s why nobody trusts the media anymore ..." Trump fired back. "Don't be threatening. Be nice."
Trump also addressed the deadly consequences of an economic downturn caused by COVID-19 restrictions. You’re going to have massive depression, meaning mental depression," he said. "You’re going to have depression in the economy, also. You’re going to have large numbers of suicides ... Drug addiction. You will see drugs being used like nobody’s ever used them before and people are going to be dying all over the place from drug addiction. Because you would have had a wonderful job at a restaurant or even owned a restaurant ... and in one day they have nothing ... Hopefully, we’re not going to have that."