Governors across the nation slam federal coronavirus response: ‘We didn’t take this seriously’

Illinois Gov. J.B. Pritzker, alongside other lawmakers and stakeholders, announces a major step forward to legalize cannabis, at Black United Fund of Illinois, on Saturday May 4, 2019. The bill also looks to expunge thousands of class-4 felony marijuana convictions. (Abel Uribe/Chicago Tribune/TNS via Getty Images)

Abel Uribe | Tribune News Service | Getty Images

State governors say their demands for more masks and other medical equipment are not being met, forcing them to compete with each other for critical supplies as the coronavirus pandemic escalates in the United States. 

“This should have been a coordinated effort by the federal government…It’s a Wild West out there…Indeed we’re overpaying for PPE because of that competition,” Illinois Gov. JB Pritzker said on CNN’s “State of the Union.”

PPE stands for personal protection equipment, which includes critical medical supplies such as face masks. 

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo said Sunday that the federal government needs to nationalize the purchase of needed medical supplies, adding that the shortage of personal protective gear like masks and life-saving equipment like respirators is leading to price gouging.

Masks that used to cost 85 cents are now $7 because New York is vying with other states, according to Cuomo.

“Currently when states are doing it, we are competing against other states. In some cases, we’re savaging other states,” Cuomo said. “This is just an impossible situation to manage, if we don’t get the equipment, we could lose lives that we could otherwise save if we had the equipment.”

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo speaks during his daily news conference amid the coronavirus outbreak on March 20, 2020 in New York City.

Bennett Raglin | Getty Images

New York is currently buying sewing machines in order to make its own masks, according to Cuomo.

FEMA administrator Pete Gaynor did not offer a solid timeline for when the national stockpile of masks will be distributed or give a number for how many masks are currently being shipped. He said on ABC News’ “This Week” that there are still masks in the national stockpile, but that FEMA is prepared to “go to zero” to meet demand.

New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy said on ABC News’ “This Week” his state’s need for masks to protect health-care workers and the sick has not been met.

“We are desperate for more PPE equipment—personal protective equipment,” Murphy said. “We’ve had a big ask into the strategic stockpile in the White House. They’ve given us a fraction of our ask.”

He said that in addition to masks, the federal government needs to provide economic aid.

“We think New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania and Connecticut, alone those four states need $100 billion direct cash assistance to allow us to continue the fight,” Murphy said.

Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said her state has turned to working with companies in order to purchased needed masks and that she wants to help those on the outbreak’s front lines. Michigan also lacks coronavirus testing kits, according to Whitmer.

“Had the federal government really started focusing when it became clear that the whole world was going to be confronting this, we would be in a stronger position right now,” Whitmer said on ABC News’ “This Week.”

She recommended that the federal government provide a national strategy for handling the outbreak and criticized its lack of preparedness.

“Lives will be lost because we weren’t prepared,” she said. “Our economy will struggle because we didn’t take this seriously enough as a country.”

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