White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany on Wednesday tried to create a new measure of success for the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus crisis that has resulted in more than 61,0000 deaths.
McEnany told reporters during a press gaggle that "the success story is that this administration mobilized the greatest efforts since WWII that we provided something like 4,000 ventilators to New York."
"Not a single American died in this country for lack of a ventilator," she claimed. "I would call that response a success."
McEnany was responding to a question about Donald Trump's senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who on Tuesday described Trump's response to the crisis as "a great success story."
"We're on the other side of the medical aspect of this, and I think that we've achieved all of the different milestones that are needed, Kushner said at the time. "So, the government, federal government, rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story."
McEnany did not provide evidence for her claim that no Americans died due to lack of ventilator access, and there appears to be no publicly available data that supports it either.
The White House did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the matter.
An April 3 Buzzfeed News report seems to directly contradict the claim, quoting at least one New York City doctor describing a sense of feeling overwhelmed while treating coronavirus patients.
"The other day I felt defeated," they told the outlet. "The patient came in on a code. We looked at each other. The patient had to die. There was nothing we could do."
They added, "I watched like three people die on Saturday — nothing we can do. Zero. You feel defeated. You feel drained."
The BuzzFeed article cited an earlier New York Times report that revealed hospitals across the country had developed triage guidelines for determining who would be saved "if hospitals have more critically ill patients than ventilators."
Even Trump's preferred news outlet, Fox News, has reported similar findings. In early April, the conservative-leaning outlet reported that, "amid a vast shortage of life-saving devices," doctors were increasingly being forced to determine "who to save and who to let die."
"It's a decision more and more doctors every day are being forced to wrestle with, and that could increase if the rationing of ventilators becomes unavoidable," the normally Trump-friendly outlet wrote on April 2.
That same month, the Los Angeles Times reported that doctors were creating "decision trees" in order to help determine which patients would have access to a ventilator and which ones would not in case there were not enough for all who needed them.
McEnany's new definition of success came on the same day that the New York Times reported 61,755 people in the country have died so far from the virus, and more than 1 million people have tested positive for it.
The press secretary's statement also stands at odds with comments from Trump himself, who repeatedly demanded governors secure their own medical supplies.
"Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves," Trump told governors on March 16.
Three days later, Trump made a similar point at a White House press briefing.
"Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work," he said at the time. "The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we're not a shipping clerk."
Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.
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