President Donald Trump said he had “a lot of things going on” that prevented his administration from restocking the national stockpile of medical equipment during his three years in the White House.
The president accused the Obama administration of giving “us empty cupboards,” saying it prevented him from effectively combatting the novel coronavirus in the US.
“We started off with a broken system,” Trump previously said. “We inherited a broken, terrible system. And I always say it, our cupboards were bare. We had very little in our stockpile.”
The Strategic National Stockpile, which manages the US’s reserves of medical equipment for use in a crisis, does not publicly disclose its inventory. But CNN has reported that both President Barack Obama and Trump ignored warnings that the US could be unprepared for a pandemic.
Trump’s top trade adviser, Peter Navarro, told US officials in a memo in late January that the looming health crisis could pose an economic emergency, according to The New York Times. He also called for increased funding for personal protective equipment for healthcare workers.
Speaking with the president after his tour of a mask-making plant in Arizona on Tuesday afternoon, Muir referred to Trump’s reelection credentials and asked the president what he did to address any shortages inherited from the previous administration years ago.
“Well, I’ll be honest. I have a lot of things going on,” Trump said. “We have a lot of people that refused to allow the country to be successful.”
As of Tuesday, there were more than 1,180,200 confirmed COVID-19 cases in the US and nearly 70,000 related deaths.
Democratic Rep. Andy Kim of New Jersey, a member of a recent bipartisan congressional committee overseeing the nation’s coronavirus efforts, told Insider that Trump “has a chance to get this right, right now.”
“That means massively scaling our testing capabilities, ensuring those who need PPE have access to it and supporting our state and local governments,” Kim said. “America needs a federal government dedicated to learning from the past, addressing the present, and preparing for the future.”