New York’s public hospital system only received a month’s worth of desperately needed N95 masks on Thursday after President Trump heard from “friends” that they were critically low on supplies, Trump’s son-in-law Jared Kushner said. Hospital workers in the New York, the U.S. coronavirus epicenter, have been begging for weeks for more personal protective gear (PPE), telling harrowing stories of reusing masks for days, wearing trash bags as gowns, and asking for local donations of gloves. The national stockpile of equipment is running low and states have been bidding against each other for what’s left on the global market.
Kushner, who spoke at a Thursday briefing about his work on the federal government’s “supply chain task force,” said Trump had been very “hands on” and “instructed us to leave no stone unturned” in the effort to source PPE and medical equipment like ventilators. “Very early this morning I got a call from the president,” Kushner said. “He told me he was hearing from friends of his in New York that the New York public hospital system was running low on critical supply.” He said he called Dr. Mitchell Katz, CEO of NYC Health + Hospitals, who told him they needed N95 masks the most—so Kushner sourced a month’s worth from the federal inventory. Trump called Mayor Bill de Blasio on Thursday to say it was on the way, Kushner added.
The Trump administration has been saying for days that millions of masks were headed to American hospitals. Admiral John Polowczyk, chief of the supply task force, couldn’t explain the delays on Thursday but said the government was releasing more supply into the private market.