Federal government is seizing gear from hospitals with no explanation

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The outside of a hospital emergency room in San Diego. March 10, 2020. Credit: U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Jake Greenberg.

President Trump has spent the last few weeks blaming governors and other local officials for the shortfalls in medical supplies they’ve been experiencing. 

“Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work, and they are doing a lot of this work. 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,” Trump said on March 19. 

Now the president has softened that message, but he’s still portraying the federal government as merely a backstop: 

“We are working hard with the governors. There’s been great coordination, especially over the last little while. We’ve given them a lot of equipment, a lot of ventilators, but a lot of equipment of all types. And I will protect you if your governor fails. If you have a governor that’s failing, we’re going to protect you.”

Behind the scenes though, the federal government has been seizing orders for medical supplies from some hospitals. That’s left hospital staff scrambling to try to get the supplies they need during this pandemic. The LA Times’ Noam Levey broke this story