Wednesday, May 6, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He contradicted a nurse he was honoring on National Nurses Day to claim there were no medical supply shortages.

Today was National Nurse Day. Trump held a brief photo opportunity in the Oval Office with some nurses, and a reporter asked one of them about shortages of personal protective equipment (PPE) that medical professionals use with COVID-19 patients. Sophia L. Thomas, the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, answered this way:

DR. THOMAS:  I think it’s sporadic.  As I talk to my colleagues around the country, certainly there are pockets of areas where PPE is not ideal.  But this is an unprecedented time.  And the infection control measures that we learned back when we went to school — one gown, one mask for one patient a day or per time — this is a different time.  And I’ve been reusing my N95 mask for a few weeks now.  I just broke out a new one to come here, just in case I needed to wear it. 
...Certainly I’ve had several tests throughout this whole COVID-19 crisis.  I practice in New Orleans at a community health center.  My youngest patient has been four days old — a four-day-old infant.  And so PPE has been sporadic, but it’s been manageable, and we do what we have to do.  We’re nurses, and we learn to adapt and we do whatever the best thing that we can do for our patients to get the job done and get the care provided.  And that’s what we’re going to continue to do as COVID-19 continues.

At this point, Trump interrupted, as Dr. Thomas tried to find a way to agree with him:

TRUMP: Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people [...] Because I’ve heard the opposite. I’ve heard that they are loaded up with — with gowns now. And, you know, initially we had nothing. We had empty cupboards. We had empty shelves. We had nothing. Because it wasn’t put there by the last administration.

It's not true that the Obama administration left "empty cupboards" in the Strategic National Stockpile, but even if it had been, Trump had been president for three years at the start of the outbreak. Asked earlier this week about why he didn't do anything in those three years to better prepare the country, Trump blamed his impeachment and the Russia investigation and said that he had "a lot of things going on."

Why does this matter?

  • One way to honor nurses is to listen to them when they say there's a problem you can help solve.
  • "I was too busy being impeached" isn't an excuse for anything.