In a new editorial, the Portland Press Herald is calling for the Trump administration to take action to end the shortage of necessary health care supplies to combat the coronavirus pandemic. Governor Janet Mills and the legislature have taken quick action to keep Mainers safe but when asked to help states secure vital equipment like ventilators and personal protective gear, President Trump told governors to “try getting it yourselves.”


President Trump failed to prepare America for this crisis. He misled the public for weeks, claiming that his administration had the situation “totally under control” and claimed in late February that the number of cases would be “close to zero” “within a couple of days”. And now, as the coronavirus pandemic is hitting Maine, Trump is failing to take the steps necessary to secure the health care equipment we need, leaving our communities high and dry in the face of this deadly threat.


Portland Press Herald: Our View: U.S. Response To Coronavirus Falling Behind In Key Areas


By The Editorial Board

March 20, 2020


Key Points:


  • The United States remains woefully behind on testing, giving us little idea of the true scope of the outbreak, and likely hastening its spread. 


  • There is also a shortage of personal protective equipment – masks, gowns and face shields – used by health care workers and first responders.


  • And there are not nearly enough of the ventilators needed for the sickest patients available nationwide to handle a surge in demand. The lack of ventilators has been one of the main factors in driving up death rates from COVID-19 in Italy.


  • Health care workers are absolutely essential in treating the pandemic, and the shortage of protective equipment is putting them in danger on a wide scale. In Maine and elsewhere, it has also limited the speed and scope of testing for the virus.


  • A week after it was first urged by Democrats, President Trump on Wednesday invoked the Defense Production Act, giving him broad powers to order companies to produce critical equipment. It is likely the only way to get things done on the scale necessary; however, he has declined to use those powers.


  • Gov. Mills on Thursday sent a letter to Vice President Mike Pence and Alex Azar, U.S. secretary of health and human services, saying that Maine needs personal protective equipment and ventilators now. The state received a “limited disbursement” from the federal government’s Strategic National Stockpile, Mills said, but it is not enough.


  • “We have exhausted the options within our control and are relying on Federal government to meet this urgent need,” Mills wrote.


  • But on Monday President Trump told governors, “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment – try getting it yourselves.” Asked again about it Thursday, despite ongoing and numerous pleas like the one from Mills, he said, “Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work.”


  • Shah, of the Maine CDC, said Thursday that his agency is pursuing all avenues for obtaining equipment. They are trying hard to catch up.


  • The message from the Trump administration, however, has been clear: You’re on your own.