The grand delusion that Donald Trump has tried to foist upon America that his administration has properly managed the emergency response to the COVID-19 pandemic and that there is an abundance of testing equipment, face masks, and other personal protective equipment for the brave medical personnel who need them hit hard reality today in the White House.
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The occasion was a dog and pony show appearance in the Oval Office by a group of nurses to provide a photo op for the president in celebration of National Nurses Day.
If ever there was a time to show appreciation towards the underpaid and generally unheralded nurses on the front lines of medical care in this country it’s during the current virus outbreak, but Trump’s reaction to the outspokenness of one nurse practitioner undermined any feigned gratitude he may have hoped would be the primary message culled from the made-for-cable-news-soundbites press event.
According to Bloomberg News, a reporter first asked a “volunteer nurse” from New York state, Luke Adams, whether he had access to “sufficient supplies of personal protective equipment, or PPE.”
After Adams affirmed that he had received what he needed, Sophia Thomas, president of the National Association of Nurse Practitioners and an employee of New Orleans’ Daughters of Charity Health System, told the reporter the stark reality of the current situation: that there were still pockets of the country that lacked good protective equipment.
“She said she had been wearing the same N95 face mask for “a few weeks” and called the supply of PPE at her health system ‘sporadic’ but ‘manageable.’ She said she and her colleagues do what they have to do.” Bloomberg News reported.
Hearing his carefully constructed fantasy of a message be demolished in front of his very eyes, Donald Trump interrupted Thomas to rebuild his dream world, the product of his magical thinking process.
“Sporadic for you” but not for a lot of other people, Trump interjected.
Thomas conceded that others may not have had the same experience. although she refrained from asking the president whether those with easy access to PPE had any particular political connections or affiliations, something that hopefully the Democrats in the House of Representatives will get to investigate at some point.
For his part, Trump returned to the scripted portion of the day’s agenda, repeating his mantra that America is “now loaded up” with PPE and that he’s been told that “we have tremendous supply to almost all places.”
The other nurses were apparently unwilling to see the president’s magic sandcastle of a notion come crumbling to the ground before him and seemingly knew that they were only there as compliant props for Trump’s grandstanding. Many expressed their agreement with the president despite continued documented shortages in some areas.
“Maria Arvonio, a nursing supervisor at a community hospital in Willingboro, New Jersey, said she had not heard of any gear shortages in her area, even though it is considered a ‘hot zone’ of infections,” Bloomberg News wrote.
“I really appreciate you saying that. It’s so nice that you stepped up because they’re fake news,” Trump replied, insulting the assembled media to their faces.
Well, it wasn’t National Journalists Day, after all.
Perhaps the proper celebration of National Nurses Day would consist of ensuring that these vital workers are protected wherever they are rather than making defensive excuses and covering up his own failures to properly manage the nation’s emergency response by pretending that no problems exist.
But Trump would rather continue to foist his grand delusion with an eye on the November elections, hoping that he can conjure an alternative reality that can distract the public from the bodies piling up in overcrowded morgues across the country.
The American public needs to show Donald Trump that most of us are neither blind nor stupid and eject this man from any position of power at the earliest possible opportunity.
Original reporting by Jordan Fabian at Bloomberg News.
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