Contrary To His Claims, Trump Inherited More Ventilators Than Were Distributed
President Donald Trump repeatedly has claimed that he inherited an “empty” Strategic National Stockpile from former President Barack Obama, but according to FactCheck.org, “the federal government had more ventilators in stock than it ended up distributing amid the COVID-19 pandemic.”
- A Department of Health and Human Services spokesperson told the organization that the “SNS had 16,660 ventilators ‘immediately available for use’ when the federal government began deploying the breathing machines to states to treat critically ill COVID-19 patients in March.”
- Further, none of those ventilators had been purchased by the Trump administration.
- A second HHS spokesperson said in a June 17 email that the federal government had distributed 10,640 ventilators amid the pandemic.
FactCheck.org acknowledged that the SNS “was not fully replenished after millions of N95 respirators, masks, gloves and other protective items were distributed during that 2009 pandemic”; however, there were more ventilators than Trump and other administration officials suggested.
- The report noted that “On April 30, Trump falsely claimed, ‘We had a ventilator problem that was caused by the fact that we weren’t left ventilators by a previous administration.’”
Most recently, at a June 18 roundtable with governors about the reopening of U.S. small businesses, the president said: “[W]hen we came here, you had very few ventilators in this country. And by the time we started, not one person that needed a ventilator didn’t get it. So everybody that needed a ventilator got a ventilator. … [W]e stocked up those shelves. The cupboard was empty, and we filled up the cupboards.”
- Vice President Mike Pence also got it wrong in a June op-ed, when he wrote that the SNS “hadn’t been refilled since the H1N1 influenza outbreak in 2009, and it had only 10,000 ventilators on hand” in March.
FactCheck.org reported that the “SNS currently has approximately 24,000 ventilators available for deployment,” per an HHS spokesperson, and contracts awarded under the Defense Production Act earlier this year “are expected to produce more than 180,000 ventilators to be added to the stockpile.”