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Trump On Thursday

Thursday Trump challenged Cuomo: "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators"

President Trump said on "Hannity" Thursday night that he doesn't think states need as many ventilators as they have requested from the federal government to deal with the coronavirus crisis. The president appeared to reference the dire request from New York Governor Andrew Cuomo for 30,000 ventilators.

"I have a feeling that a lot of the numbers that are being said in some areas are just bigger than they're going to need," the president said. "I don't believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You know, you go to major hospitals, sometimes they have two ventilators. Now all of a sudden they're saying can we order 30,000 ventilators."

"It's a highly — it's very expensive, it's a very intricate piece of equipment, you know ... heavily computerized, and you know the good ones are very, very expensive. And you know they say, uh, like Governor Cuomo and others, they say, 'We want 30,000 of them.' 30,000? Think of this, you know you go to hospitals and they will have one in the hospital, and now all of a sudden everybody is asking for these vast numbers," Mr. Trump said.

"So, look, it's a very bad situation, we haven't seen anything like it, but the end result is we've got to get back to work," Mr. Trump told Hannity. "And I think we can start by opening up certain parts of the country, you know the farm belt, certain parts of the Midwest."

Also on Thursday - Trump Complains Ventilators Cost Too Much

After Considering $1 Billion Price Tag for Ventilators, White House Has Second Thoughts.

The White House had been preparing to reveal on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems that would allow for the production of as many as 80,000 desperately needed ventilators to respond to an escalating pandemic when word suddenly came down that the announcement was off.

The decision to cancel the announcement, government officials say, came after the Federal Emergency Management Agency said it needed more time to assess whether the estimated cost was prohibitive. That price tag was more than $1 billion, with several hundred million dollars to be paid upfront to General Motors to retool a car parts plant in Kokomo, Ind., where the ventilators would be made with Ventec’s technology.

Government officials said that the deal might still happen but that they are examining at least a dozen other proposals.

A General Motors spokesman said that “Project V,” as the ventilator program is known, was moving very fast, and a company official said “there’s no issue with retooling.”

Ventec and G.M. have been working at breakneck speed to leverage our collective expertise in ventilation and manufacturing to meet the needs of the country as quickly as possible and arm medical professionals with the number of ventilators needed to save lives,” said Chris O. Brooks, Ventec’s chief strategy officer.

The only thing missing was clarity from the government about how many ventilators they needed — and who would be paid to build them.

Targets have changed by the hour, officials said, as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the Department of Health and Human Services, the Food and Drug Administration, which approves the use of medical devices, and the White House try to figure out how many ventilators to request and how much they should cost.

Early Friday

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Trump Blames GM for "Stupidly" Causing Ventilator Shortage

This is curious because on Thursday Trump questioned the need for 30,000 ventilators but on Friday he was blasting General Motors CEO Mary Barra for not being able to deliver 40,000 ventilators.

Thump then added a complaint about one of GM's plants.

Later on Friday

Please recall Trump Commands GM to Make Ventilators, But GM Already Was

Trump invoked the Defense Production Act and Ordered General Motors to Make Ventilators.

GM replied to Trump, “Ventec, GM and our supply base have been working around the clock for over a week to meet this urgent need.”

Gizmodo Chimes In

Gizmodo fills in some more curiosities in it's report Trump Threatens to 'Invoke "P"' After Finding Out How Much Ventilators Cost [Update: He Invoked P]

In the middle of a national crisis, the White House hemmed and hawed over a $1.5 billion price tag (a pittance on the U.S. federal government scale) because of the possibility they might go slightly overboard on saving potentially thousands of lives. Trump had previously asserted that a deal was on the table, but in an ominous sign, on Thursday he took to Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show to proclaim he didn’t “believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

Hence the frantic backtrack on Friday, when Trump vented about the high price tag of the General Motors debacle: “... things just never seem to work out. They said they were going to give us 40,000 much needed Ventilators, ‘very quickly’. Now they are saying it will only be 6000, in late April, and they want top dollar. Always a mess with Mary B. Invoke ‘P’.”

Trump only invoked the Defense Production Act on March 18, weeks after Azar initially floated the idea and after significant political pressure had built up, and then refused to use its authority until now. But of course, the delays are anybody else’s fault.

Trump was worried about a mere $1.5 billion for respirators, just moments before signing a graft-laden bailout bill that included an obscure tax change worth $170 billion to real estate moguls among other idiocies.

I will dive into the graft later today.

But that's the rest of the story on ventilators.

Mike "Mish" Shedlock