Donald Trump has expressed skepticism about demands from US governors for more ventilators to cope with the influx of patients suffering the symptoms of Covid-19, saying he simply does not believe they need the numbers they’re asking for.

Speaking to Fox News’s Sean Hannity, one of his longtime defenders, the president gave his view that the demands for equipment coming from hospitals across the country are excessive.

“I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they’re going to be. I don’t believe you need 30,000 or 40,000 ventilators. You know, you go into major hospitals, sometimes they’ll have two ventilators. Now all of a sudden they’re asking ‘can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

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Ventilator shortages are a recurring theme in the US coronavirus outbreak, with hospitals fighting to make sure a massive influx of Covid-19 patients needing ICU beds can be accommodated.

New York governor Andrew Cuomo has said his state needs 30,000 ventilators but is falling far short. The state, currently the epicentre of the outbreak, has announced it will allow two patients to share a single ventilator using an experimental technique called “splitting”. 

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Meanwhile, hospitals in New York City are batting to cope with the influx of patients needing intensive treatment; one hospital in Queens this week saw 13 deaths in 24 hours.

Meanwhile, the White House has pulled back from a deal with General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to produce up to tens of thousands of new ventilators, citing the need to assess the deal’s cost-effectiveness.

After brushing aside the ventilator issue, Mr Trump on to repeat his optimistic assertion that the country could start to give up on social distancing sooner than public health experts have recommended.

“So, look, it’s a very bad situation, we haven’t seen anything like it. But the end result is we gotta get back to work, and I think we can start by opening up certain parts of the country, you know, farm belt, certain parts of the Midwest, other places.”

Mr Trump also used the Hannity interview to lay into governors whose behaviour and statements he dislikes. He dismissed Washington governor Jay Inslee as “a failed presidential candidate” while complaining that Michigan governor Gretchen Whitmer isn’t pulling her weight.

“All she does is sit there and blame the federal government,” he said. “She doesn’t get it done and we send her a lot.” His insults were retweeted by an official Trump campaign account.

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