Warren Says Trump Admin Is Preventing States from Obtaining Coronavirus Equipment: They're Doing 'Worse Than Nothing'

Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren tweeted her support of state Governor Charlie Baker Thursday after a press conference in which Baker said attempts to purchase medical equipment for the state's attempts to quell the coronavirus have been "enormously frustrating."

Baker told President Donald Trump on a conference call in March that Massachusetts had been outbid on orders for the equipment by the federal government. Trump had advised state governors to use their own established supply chains to purchase the items.

"We do like you going out, seeing what you can get, if you can get it faster," Trump told Baker. "Price is always a component of that also, maybe that's why lost to the feds. I'll tell you, that's probably why."

Baker described his attempts to procure needed items such as face masks, ventilators and respirators as "an incredibly messy thicket."

"We now have other orders that are outstanding that are probably quote/unquote confirmed," Baker told reporters Thursday, "but we have literally gotten to the point where our position is until the thing shows up here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it doesn't exist."

"I'm telling you people are spending hours and hours and hours trying to get this stuff here for exactly that reason," Baker continued. "Our first responders, our health care workers, everybody deserves to have that gear. And I'm telling you, we're killing ourselves trying to make it happen."

According to recent data, over 25,000 people have been tested for coronavirus in Massachusetts with 2,417 of those tests being confirmed as positive.

".@MassGovernor Baker is right to be angry," former Democratic presidential candidate Warren tweeted Thursday. "The Trump administration is doing WORSE than nothing–it's actively preventing states like Massachusetts from obtaining necessary equipment. These failures are resulting in a public health catastrophe."

.@MassGovernor Baker is right to be angry. The Trump administration is doing WORSE than nothing – it’s actively preventing states like Massachusetts from obtaining necessary equipment. These failures are resulting in a public health catastrophe. https://t.co/WfVrows0pi https://t.co/qF5SrgYBzG

— Elizabeth Warren (@SenWarren) March 26, 2020

Along with Massachusetts Senator Edward Markey, Warren penned a letter to Trump on Wednesday referring to the shortage of necessary medical equipment in Massachusetts as a result of the Trump administration's "bungled" response to the coronavirus pandemic.

"Massachusetts health care providers and public health leaders are doing everything they can to stem this crisis and respond to the COVID-19 outbreak," the letter read in part. "But you and your Administration have failed them at every turn."

"Your multitude of failures has resulted in an unimaginable economic collapse and a public health catastrophe, in Massachusetts and nationwide," the letter added. "On behalf of the American people, you must do better."

A spokesperson from Warren's office told Newsweek that the White House has not responded to the letter. Newsweek reached out to Senator Markey's office for comment but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Warren said Thursday in a post published on Medium that coronavirus testing in the U.S. must be increased.

"We need more tests to know who is safe to go back to work and not spread the virus to people around them," Warren wrote. "Exposing more people to the virus and causing them to be hospitalized or die from COVID-19 is a moral failure as well as an economic one."

Chief among Warren's suggestions was Trump utilizing the powers inherent within the Defense Production Act (DPA) to "spur the development and allocation of tests, the raw materials necessary to produce those tests, and the protective equipment necessary for health care professionals to administer them."

Under the DPA, the federal government can force U.S. manufacturers to build medical equipment for the fight against coronavirus. Although he has been asked by lawmakers to use the DPA, Trump has not done so.

"The Defense Production Act is a wonderful thing," Trump said at a Thursday briefing, "but I just haven't had to use it."

World Health Organization advice for avoiding spread of coronavirus disease (COVID-19) Hygiene advice

  • Clean hands frequently with soap and water, or alcohol-based hand rub.
  • Wash hands after coughing or sneezing; when caring for the sick; before, during and after food preparation; before eating; after using the toilet; when hands are visibly dirty; and after handling animals or waste.
  • Maintain at least 1 meter (3 feet) distance from anyone who is coughing or sneezing.
  • Avoid touching your hands, nose and mouth. Do not spit in public.
  • Cover your mouth and nose with a tissue or bent elbow when coughing or sneezing. Discard the tissue immediately and clean your hands.

Medical advice

  • Avoid close contact with others if you have any symptoms.
  • Stay at home if you feel unwell, even with mild symptoms such as headache and runny nose, to avoid potential spread of the disease to medical facilities and other people.
  • If you develop serious symptoms (fever, cough, difficulty breathing) seek medical care early and contact local health authorities in advance.
  • Note any recent contact with others and travel details to provide to authorities who can trace and prevent spread of the disease.
  • Stay up to date on COVID-19 developments issued by health authorities and follow their guidance.

Mask and glove usage

  • Healthy individuals only need to wear a mask if taking care of a sick person.
  • Wear a mask if you are coughing or sneezing.
  • Masks are effective when used in combination with frequent hand cleaning.
  • Do not touch the mask while wearing it. Clean hands if you touch the mask.
  • Learn how to properly put on, remove and dispose of masks. Clean hands after disposing of the mask.
  • Do not reuse single-use masks.
  • Regularly washing bare hands is more effective against catching COVID-19 than wearing rubber gloves.
  • The COVID-19 virus can still be picked up on rubber gloves and transmitted by touching your face.

The graphic below, provided by Statista, illustrates the distribution of COVID-19 cases around the world as of March 26 at 6 a.m.

coronavirus, map, covid-19, countries, world
A graphic provided by Statista shows the global spread of the new coronavirus as of March 26. More than half a million have been afflicted, over 120,000 of whom have recovered and nearly 23,000 of whom have died. STATISTA Statista
elizabeth warren
Massachusetts Senator Elizabeth Warren said Thursday that the Trump adminstration was "actively preventing" states from getting medical equipment during the coronavirus crisis. Amanda Sabga/AFP/Getty