The US is asking other countries for everything from hand sanitizer to ventilators to help fight the coronavirus
- Written by ibro
Apr 26, 2020 The South Korean government said that Trump personally made at least one of the appeals, calling President Moon Jae-in Tuesday to ask if Seoul could provide the US with medical equipment.
The administration is making these private appeals as Trump is striking a starkly different note in public. At Tuesday’s daily coronavirus briefing from the White House, not long after he had called the South Korean leader, the President veered into campaign-style rhetoric, declaring that, “America will never be a supplicant nation.”
“We should never be reliant on a foreign country for the means of our own survival,” Trump said. “Marshaling our economic strength is a key feature of defeating the virus, producing the material, supplies and equipment that we need. And they’re doing a really fantastic job,” Trump said, appearing to praise private sector companies.

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Senior Trump trade official Peter Navarro told The New York Times that the administration was even reaching out to China, which administration officials have repeatedly blamed for not communicating clearly enough about the disease.
“My job at the White House right now is to help find whatever the American people need and buy it from wherever we can, and if we need to send a plane to go get it, we’ll get that done using the full force of government and private enterprise,” Mr. Navarro said in an interview.
“If China or any other country has some masks, gloves or other products we need for the American people, we welcome that with open arms,” he said.
A senior State Department spokesperson said Tuesday that they had “reached out to missions and have asked missions to determine whether certain countries may have excess capacity of the ability to manufacture supplies, whether there are companies in that country that may consider exporting supplies to the US”
“Hopefully we can match up external suppliers, external sources with states and entities in the US that actually need them,” they said.
Diplomats tasked with making the requests say the directive came with a strong sense of urgency, with some told to get answers by the end of the day. In some cases, the orders didn’t make clear whether the US was asking for donations or offering to pay, leaving embassies in the deeply uncomfortable position of dancing around the issue.

Trump quietly seeks allies' coronavirus help even as he insists 'a lot is being done'

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In his Sunday briefing, Trump emphasized US readiness, listing some of the very items that diplomats have been asked to solicit. “We have millions of masks being done. We have respirators. We have ventilators. We have a lot of things happening right now.”
But there’s little clarity about the amount of crucial supplies the US actually has on hand. Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News Tuesday that the Strategic National Stockpile, the government reserve meant to support hospitals in a crisis, has “some 20,000 ventilators and we’ve been making those available to states,” naming California, Washington, New York and New Jersey.

Fuzzy numbers

But on March 15, Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the President’s coronavirus task force, told CNN that the US had 12,700 ventilators on hand. “If you don’t have enough ventilators, that means it’s obvious people who need it will not be able to get it. That’s when you’re going to have to make some very tough decisions.”
New York alone had over 25,000 known infections on Tuesday and 210 dead. Its governor, Andrew Cuomo, angrily told reporters that he needed “30,000” ventilators.
Cuomo’s stance echoes state leaders across the country who say the federal government still isn’t fully addressing their pleas for millions of masks, ventilators and other supplies.
As of Wednesday morning, CNN Health’s tally finds there are now at least 53,209 novel coronavirus cases in the US and that 709 people have died. Less than 24 hours prior, on Tuesday at noon, the US had at least 48,000 coronavirus infections and 600 deaths.
Even as the President declared Tuesday that “we begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel” and that he hoped to see the lifting of restrictions on movement and social gatherings by Easter, the World Health Organization warned that the growing trajectory of cases and deaths means the US could become the next global epicenter of the pandemic.

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