President Donald Trump shot off a furious tweet to Gov. J.B. Pritzker after the Illinois leader told CNN Sunday he needs more federal help to procure masks and other protective equipment sorely needed as the coronavirus pandemic swells.
“@JBPritzker Governor of Illinois, and a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News @CNN & Concast (MSDNC), shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!” Trump fumed in the tweet.
Trump, grappling with the enormity of this coronavirus catastrophe we are all living through, fell back on his familiar foils: the so-called “fake news,” CNN, Comcast and MSNBC instead of confronting the reality that Illinois and other state governments are hunting for what in federal jargon is called PPE – personal protective equipment gear.
With governors of other big states shopping the world for supplies with open wallets, Pritzker told host Jake Tapper on CNN’s “State of the Union” show, “We’re all competing against each other. This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government.”
Pritzker and the governors of California and New York — Gavin Newsom and Andrew Cuomo all Democrats, have been pleading for resources from the federal government as the number of coronavirus cases explodes.
“We’re competing against each other. We’re competing against other countries. You know, it’s a wild, wild west ... out there, and indeed, we’re overpaying, I would say, for PPE because of that competition.”
Pritzker came on after FEMA administrator Peter Gaynor, who did not inspire any confidence. He could not say how many masks have been acquired and shipped by FEMA.
FEMA, Pritzker said, did send some supplies in past weeks and “we just just got a call this morning before I went on the air that we’re going to receive another shipment of PPE later today or tomorrow from FEMA.”
Said Pritzker, “But it’s a fraction still of what we’ve requested.”
PRITZKER, LIGHTFOOT REACT
Both Pritzker and Chicago Mayor Lori Lightfoot had a quick response to Trump’s tweet.
Pritzker tweeted: “You wasted precious months when you could’ve taken action to protect Americans & Illinoisans. You should be leading a national response instead of throwing tantrums from the back seat. Where were the tests when we needed them? Where’s the PPE? Get off Twitter & do your job.”
Lightfoot tweeted: “.@realDonaldTrump, dear Lord — please step up and be a leader. While you have been yammering about hoaxes and fake news, the COVID-19 pandemic has hit all over America. @GovPritzker and others have filled this country’s leadership gap. Lead or get out of their way.”
PRITZKER ZAPS BACK AT TRUMP AGAIN
Pritzker, at his Thompson Center briefing, brought up Trump.
“I’m finding it hard to contain my anger with Donald Trump’s response to this national crisis. I have doctors and nurses and first responders begging for masks, equipment and more tests. And I have a floor full of staff who are working day and night to hunt down the supplies that our health care workers and our first responders need and the supplies we know they are going to need. …Apparently the only way to get the president of the United States to pay attention is to go on national television and make noise about it, which I won’t stop doing until we get what we need.”
STAGGERING ILLINOIS NEEDS
The Chicago Sun-Times has learned what Illinois requested from the federal government and what was or will be delivered:
March 6 state of Illinois requested
N95 face masks - 600,000; surgical masks - 900,000; gloves - 400,000; gowns - 24,000; goggles - 4,000; face shields - 120,000; respirators - 4,000
For public safety workers:
N95 face masks: 600,000; gloves: 1.2 million; goggles: 20,000
March 12 shipped to the state of Illinois
N95 face masks - 123,430; face shields - 55,989; coveralls – 234; gloves - 162,541; surgical masks - 45,649; gowns - 45,649 .
March 20 State of Illinois request for PPE for public safety workers.
Gloves – 7 million; N95 face masks - 1.74 million; gowns - 900,000; goggles - 43,500; hand sanitizer - 85,000 bottles; disinfectant wipes - 43,000 canisters; MREs (meals ready to eat) – 1 million.
A shipment is expected Sunday or Monday. “The amount of this shipment is expected to be the same as the shipment we received on March 12,” a spokesman said.
At the late afternoon White House briefing, Trump said a lot of supplies have been dispatched to New York, California and Washington state, each a “hot spot.” Cuomo and Newsom are “real gentlemen,” Trump said. Trump didn’t bring up Pritzker.
Cuomo has pressed Trump more than Pritzker during this past week, especially on supplies and bringing in the Army Corps of Engineers to build more hospital facilities. Both Trump and Cuomo were raised in Queens and the brash Cuomo can get into his head.
.@JBPritzker, Governor of Illinois, and a very small group of certain other Governors, together with Fake News @CNN & Concast (MSDNC), shouldn’t be blaming the Federal Government for their own shortcomings. We are there to back you up should you fail, and always will be!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 22, 2020