Trump administration tells states to step up as governors plead for aid

“It literally is a global jungle that we’re competing in now,” Gov. Asa Hutchinson of Arkansas, a Republican, said on “Meet the Press” on Sunday. “I’d like to see a better way, but that’s the reality in which we are.”

Gov. J.B. Pritzker of Illinois blasted Trump in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union,” telling host Jake Tapper that Trump “does not understand the word ‘federal.’”

“If he were right, why would we ever need a Federal Emergency Management Agency? It’s because individual states can’t possibly do what the federal government can do,” the Democratic governor said. “We don’t have a Defense Production Act. There’s no way that we could stockpile in anticipation of a pandemic that no one anticipated. And yet the federal government is responsible for doing precisely that.”

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer of Michigan similarly expressed frustration that the U.S. has no national strategy. The current “patchwork based on whomever the governor is,” Whitmer said, is “creating a more porous situation where Covid-19 will go longer and more people will get sick and sadly more lives may get lost.“

“That’s precisely why I think we all have to do our jobs. We are not one another‘s enemies,” Whitmer, a Democrat, told host Chris Wallace on “Fox News Sunday.” “The enemy is Covid-19, and it has to be all hands on deck from the federal level to the state level to the local level. And that‘s precisely what we’re trying to do because Covid-19, as I said, doesn’t discriminate on party line or state line, and that’s why we have to have a national strategy, and we all have to be working on the same team.”

Trump was complimentary of many of the nation‘s Democratic governors during a news conference on Sunday night at the White House, including Kate Brown of Oregon and Inslee of Washington. Oregon sent 140 ventilators to New York City, and Washington returned 400 ventilators to the national stockpile.

Trump singled out Pritzker by name, however, accusing him of “always complaining” and arguing that the federal government had to help Illinois because Pritzker “couldn’t do his job.”

At the marathon briefing, which was added to the president’s schedule after he teased its possibility via Twitter, Trump said Abbott Laboratories will have produced 1,200 new 15-minute testing kits by Tuesday. He also made repeated references to hydroxychloroquine, an anti-malarial drug he touted as a low-risk, high-reward pill that he said could save those who contract the coronavirus, though there is little scientific evidence to support such a sweeping claim. Trump said his administration had purchased and stockpiled 29 million hydroxychloroquine pills.

The president insisted he wasn’t “at all” promoting the drug, though he later intercepted a related question that was tossed at Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Asked on CBS’ “Face the Nation” on Sunday morning about hydroxychloroquine, Faudi had said that “in terms of science, I don’t think we can definitively say it works.”

“Do you know how many times he’s answered that question?” Trump asked a reporter on Sunday night. “Fifteen times. You don’t have to ask the question. He’s answered that question 15 times.”

The briefing ended within the next 90 seconds.