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Trump wants to send ventilators abroad as US patients are forced to share

Many hospitals do not have enough ventilators to serve all the coronavirus patients who need them. Now Trump wants to ship some to Europe.

By Josh Israel - March 31, 2020
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Donald Trump
The Trump administration is now urging hospitals, which are already rationing resources, to make patients share ventilators as a last resort amid the growing COVID-19 pandemic.

Trump himself claimed Monday that the nation would soon have so many extra ventilators that it would be able to ship them to Europe.

Asked whether there would be enough ventilators for the American people as the number of coronavirus cases continues to grow, Trump answered, “Yes, I do think so. I think we’re going to be in very good shape.”

Noting that several companies had turned their focus to ventilator manufacturing, he added, “As we outpace what we need, we’re going to be sending them to Italy. We’re going to be sending them to France. We’re going to be sending them to Spain, where they have tremendous problems, and other countries as we can.”

Trump made a similar claim earlier Monday on Fox News.

“Now, we’re still getting more ventilators,” he said in a phone interview. “We’re going to have — after this is over, we’ll be selling — they’ll be selling ventilators for $1 apiece. We’ll have a lot of them, but you know, they have to build them because for the most part the whole world is short on ventilators. And you know, I spoke to Boris Johnson, the prime minister of U.K., and he — the first thing he said to me is ‘We need ventilators.'”

While Trump has promised the federal government would be a “backup” for states attempting to purchase additional ventilators, many have struggled to get what they need.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo complained on Tuesday that states were being forced to bid against each other and the federal government to get the few ventilators currently available. “Did you really have to learn that 50 states shouldn’t compete against 50 states? And then FEMA shouldn’t come in late and compete with 50 states? It’s not like you had to go to the Harvard Kennedy School to learn this,” he said at a daily press briefing.

The Wall Street Journal reported on Tuesday that NYU Langone Health in New York City had told emergency room doctors they had discretion to “withhold futile intubations” due to the lack of available ventilators. They urged doctors to “think more critically about who we intubate.”

And Politico reported on Tuesday that new guidelines from Surgeon General Jerome Adams and Adm. Brett Giroir, Trump’s assistant secretary for health, suggested that as “an absolute last resort” two patients could be forced to share the same ventilator. At least one New York hospital has reportedly started using the untested approach.

Asked last week whether Trump would guarantee that everyone who needs a ventilator will get one, Trump demurred, calling the reporter who made the inquiry a “cutie pie” and a “wise guy.”

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.


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