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President Donald Trump blasted New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo Tuesday evening during a campaign event in Phoenix, for under-utilizing federal healthcare assets the state leader requested during the peak of the COVID-19 pandemic.
In a speech to the Young Republicans, the president said that Cuomo “didn’t use” either the Javits Center field hospital set up by the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers or the U.S. Navy’s hospital ship, the USNS Comfort.
“[Cuomo] wanted a hospital built in the Javits convention center. We built it, but he didn’t use it. He could have used for the older people. It was brand new, not infected, no infection,” Trump said.
“Then he wanted the boat. He wanted the boat to come up. The beautiful, beautiful hospital ship. You know what that was called right?” the president added.
Initially, both sites were planned as overflow facilities to treat non-coronavirus patients but as infections spiked in New York City, Cuomo changed gears and, with the president’s permission, converted both into COVID-19 care facilities, a move that halved the Comfort’s 1,000-bed capacity to 500 beds.
In April, Trump announced that the Comfort had been converted, but at Cuomo’s request.
“And it came up. He could have used [the Comfort] for senior citizens,” the president continued in Phoenix. “They didn’t use it. And it’s a shame. It’s a shame. It’s a shame.”
In all, the New York Post reported, the Comfort only treated 182 patients, while another 1,100 were treated at the Javits Center, “a small, but impactful contribution for desperately overwhelmed hospitals, according to officials on the ground,” the paper said.
The Post also acknowledged that neither facility was used anywhere near their capacity, even as New York City emergency rooms “teemed with coronavirus patients.”
And a May 7 report from NPR noted that scores of emergency field hospitals set up by the Corps — at a cost of around $660 million to taxpayers — were not used at all to treat coronavirus patients.
For his part, Cuomo — who has repeatedly blamed his policy mistakes on the Trump administration, including his decision to order nursing homes to accept coronavirus-infected patients — initially downplayed the outbreak.
On March 8, he told a daily briefing, “This is not the Ebola virus, this is not the SARS virus, this is a virus that we have a lot of information on.”
A day later, as the city’s infection rate doubled, Cuomo told CNN that “fear is actually outpacing the facts.” That same day he also ripped the Trump administration for not acting fast enough — criticism that eventually led to the president’s decision to order the Javits Center hospital built and the USNS Comfort to New York City.
“We need the federal government to do a better job,” Cuomo said in mid-March after he and the Democrat governors of Connecticut and New Jersey coordinated to formulate the same rules for mass closures. “States don’t have the capacity or the power to make up for the federal government. We’re doing the best we can, but we need the federal government to step up.”
But states — not the federal government — are primarily responsible for addressing their own needs.
And as Fox News host Sean Hannity pointed out in late March, by then, the Trump administration had already supplied New York City and New York State with all that Cuomo requested including extra hospital beds, the hospital ship, National Guard troops to assist, and thousands of ventilators.
(Source: Fox News)
“Everything that New York will need, Andrew Cuomo has requested, the president has delivered,” Hannity said.
“But you know, I watched day after day, and he says, he talks with such great authority. You know, these politicians all talk, no action, that’s all we’re getting from Cuomo,” he said, adding that the governor had made an appearance on his radio show where he pledged “we’ll all work together.”
“Today, he had nothing but more whining, bitching, and complaining,” Hannity said. “It’s getting pathetic, Andrew. What are you doing and why didn’t you prepare better?
“Why didn’t you do your job and allocate the emergency dollars for moments predictably like this?” Hannity said.