WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump says he’s ordered the Federal Emergency Management Agency to ship mobile hospital centers to the hard-hit states of Washington, California and New York amid the coronavirus pandemic. For New York, that would mean another 1,000 hospital beds.
Trump is also revealing for the first time the number of respirators and other personal protective equipment sent to the hard-hit states by the federal government. It comes as state and local leaders have appealed on the federal government to provide far more, and as Trump has held off on using his fully authorities under the Defense Production Act to marshal the private sector’s capabilities.
Trump says it’s up to states to try to get the materials first. He says: “We’re sort of a backup for states.”
Trump says he’s also giving governors in those three states in calling up their national guard, keeping it under local control but providing federal funding.
The White House is also urging commercial labs to prioritize the testing of hospital patients as they work to clear a backlog of tests for the coronavirus.
Vice President Mike Pence says the Department of Health and Human Services will issue formal guidance Monday, but that the federal government is encouraging all labs to “prioritize inpatient testing.”
Pence says the government hopes to have the backlog of existing tests — a milestone the White House hoped to reach on Monday — cleared by the middle of the week.
The White House is encouraging those without symptoms against seeking testing, warning it depletes already scarce supplies of personal protective equipment for healthcare providers.
The Senate has refused to advance the coronavirus rescue package in a procedural vote with Democrats rejecting a draft from Republicans and pushing for more aid for workers.
Negotiations are expected to continue into the evening Sunday.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has urged senators to “signal to the public that we’re ready to get this job done.” He wants passage by Monday.
But Democrats have resisted, arguing the nearly $1.4 trillion measure needs to bolster aid and put limits on how businesses can use the emergency dollars.
More voting is possible.
The full White House briefing appears below.