President TrumpDonald TrumpDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors Former Boston Red Sox star David Ortiz elected to Baseball Hall of Fame Overnight Health Care — Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaul MORE on Wednesday disagreed with a New Orleans nurse who reported a “sporadic” supply of personal protective equipment at her facility as he sought to highlight the federal government’s efforts to provide additional medical supplies across the country.
The exchange came during an Oval Office meeting between Trump and a group of nurses as the president signed a proclamation honoring National Nurses Day amid the coronavirus pandemic.
Asked by a reporter if they were satisfied with the level of supplies, Sophia Thomas, a New Orleans-based nurse and president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, replied that personal protective equipment (PPE) had been “sporadic” but “manageable” in her area.
"I think it’s sporadic. As I talk to my colleagues around the country, certainly there are pockets of areas where PPE is not ideal but this is an unprecedented time,” Thomas said, noting that she had been wearing the same N95 respirator for a few weeks.
“PPE has been sporadic but it’s been manageable,” Thomas continued. “And we do what we have to do. We’re nurses and we learn to adapt and do whatever the best thing that we can do for our patients to get the job done and get the care provided.”
Trump pushed back on the idea that supplies were sporadic across the country. “Sporadic for you but not sporadic for a lot of other people,” the president said. Thomas replied that she agreed with him.
“Because I have heard the opposite. I have heard that they are loaded up with gowns now,” Trump said. “Initially, we had nothing. We had empty cupboards. We had empty shelves. We had nothing because it wasn’t put there by the last administration.”
Trump then highlighted the millions of masks being produced by a Honeywell facility in Phoenix that he toured on Tuesday.
“For the most part, that was fine, but I have heard that we have tremendous supply to almost all places,” the president continued. “Tremendous supply to a point where we’re going to start having some of our supply go to other countries which need it very badly.”
During White House event, a New Orleans nurse says, “PPE has been sporadic, but it's been manageable."— NBC News (@NBCNews) May 6, 2020
President Trump replies: "Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people ... That was fine, but I have heard we have a tremendous supply to almost all places." pic.twitter.com/giltAwPM8V
Another nurse said during the event that she and her colleagues had found what they needed but acknowledged they must “change the way we do things.”
Maria Arvonio, a nursing supervisor at Virtua Willingboro Medical Center in New Jersey, later said she hadn’t witnessed a shortage of protective gear mentioned in the press.
“When we all talk about the fears, it makes it so much worse for us nurses to work. We’re seeing the reality of it but to hear it on constantly, 'there’s not enough, there’s not enough.' In reality, I’m not seeing it right now,” Arvonio said. “I’m in a hot zone right now. I’m in south New Jersey.”
The remark earned her accolades from the president, who said he appreciated it and called reports about a dearth in medical equipment “fake news.”
“I really appreciate you saying that, it’s so nice that you stepped up, because they’re fake news,” Trump said, going on to emphasize the national supply of ventilators and tests.
Trump recognized the nursing professionals as “extraordinary” during Wednesday’s meeting, describing them as "warriors."
“They have nothing on their mind except helping people and making people better,” the president said. “You are warriors, that’s what you are — incredible warriors.”