Trump suggests theft after hospital sees sharp increase in mask usage

A medical worker wearing a single protective glove and a face mask returning home from work in New York. (AP pic)

WASHINGTON: President Donald Trump alleged a New York hospital is losing medical masks or even allowing them to be stolen, questioning how demand for the product could have spiked so rapidly during the coronavirus outbreak.

Trump cited no evidence and didn’t identify the hospital.

At a news conference Sunday in the White House Rose Garden, after the chief executive officer of medical distributor Owens & Minor Inc said that one of its customers had gone from using 10,000 to 20,000 masks a week to 200,000 to 300,000, the president suggested a criminal reason.

“How do you go from 10 to 20, to 300,000 – 10 to 20,000 masks to 300,000, even though this is different. Something’s going on, and you ought to look into it, as reporters,” Trump said.

“Where are the masks going – are they going out the backdoor?” he added.

“Somebody should probably look into that, because I just don’t see from a practical standpoint how that’s possible to go from that to that, and we have that happening in numerous places.”

Personal protective equipment is the single thing that separates medical personnel from becoming patients themselves, Kenneth Raske, president of the Greater New York Hospital Association, said in a statement.

“New York’s health care workers are treating exploding numbers of Covid-19 patients around the clock – willingly and without complaint,” Raske said.

“My daughter, an ICU nurse at a New York City hospital, is one of them.

“They deserve better than their president suggesting that PPE is ‘going out the back door’ of New York hospitals.”

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