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Representatives from multiple states said they made requests for coronavirus tests or other critical supplies that the federal government has yet to fill or never filled.
Representatives from Oregon, North Carolina and Washington described difficulties scaling up testing and getting protective gear for frontline workers.
Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the chair of the National Governors Association, said “it’s obviously not the case” that governors have everything they need.
Fox News host Sean Hannity touted President Donald Trump’s coronavirus response, praising him for "huge decisions that save lives" and claiming, without evidence, that "this administration has fulfilled every request from every state governor."
"There have been zero unfulfilled equipment and supply requests from state governors," Hannity said July 21.
Trump made a similar comment at a press briefing hours earlier, saying the nation’s governors get "everything they need" and his administration has "zero unfilled requests."
But Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan, the chair of the National Governors Association, has disputed such claims, saying during a press conference the next day that "it’s obviously not the case" that governors have everything they need.
"We had a call today with, I believe, 48 governors from across America," Hogan, a Republican, told reporters. "There are still things that we really need."
Hogan cited "testing shortages" as one area of concern. "Not having supplies and running out of capacity across the country, it’s looking like it was back in March and April," he said, echoing the criticisms he made about the federal response in an op-ed headlined, "Fighting alone."
We’re not privy to private communications between governors and the White House. But we tried contacting all 50 states. Representatives from several told us they made requests for tests, personal protective equipment or other supplies that have yet to be filled — or were never filled.
Hannity’s claim that the administration has met "every request" overstates the administration’s supply of testing and equipment to states in what, from the beginning of the crisis, has been an absence of a coordinated national strategy. "We’re not a shipping clerk," Trump said in March.
The White House and Fox News did not respond to our requests for comment.
The Federal Emergency Management Agency, Health and Human Services Department and private sector delivered about 190 million N-95 respirators, 785 million masks, 33 million face shields, 342 million gowns and over 20 billion gloves as of July 17, a FEMA spokesperson said.
FEMA is still working with the governors. But amid soaring U.S. cases, news reports say some places are again experiencing long lines for tests, slow turnarounds for test results and shortages of personal protective gear. NBC News reported that internal documents show a dwindling federal stockpile of equipment.
Vehicles line up at a coronavirus testing site in Omaha, Neb., on July 23, 2020. (AP)
"There has been some progress on PPE and other equipment, as well as testing, but not all states have everything they need," said James Nash, press secretary for the National Governors Association.
The governors spelled out priorities for the federal government in an April letter to Congress, calling for increased access to test kits and equipment and funding for contact tracing, social services, and small business loans, among other things.
Some requests have been completely or partially fulfilled, Nash said. Others, including a request for congressional funding to stabilize state budgets and a request for the administration to delay changes to hospital reporting requirements, remain outstanding.
The Trump administration maintains that it is getting supplies where they’re needed. Rear Adm. John Polowczyk, the point person for coronavirus-related supplies, told the Washington Post in early July that he didn’t "have the sense of there being severe shortages."
"I’m not going to tell you we’re able to meet all demand, but there’s significantly less unfulfilled orders today than in April," Polowczyk said.
About a dozen state officials responded to our queries about the federal government’s handling of requests. Taken together, their responses painted the picture of an administration that hasn’t been as attentive to some states as Hannity described.
Three states led by Democratic governors — Oregon, North Carolina and Washington — were particularly critical of the administration’s response, especially on testing.
"Woefully insufficient support from the federal government in terms of testing supplies has hampered our ability to expand Oregon’s testing capacity," said Charles Boyle, a spokesperson for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown.
When Oregon asked for more testing supplies, the federal government sent a list of vendors and "suggested we call them on our own," said Robb Cowie, a spokesperson for the Oregon Health Authority.
Oregon is also waiting on 500,000 masks, 330,000 gowns and 300,000 gloves, Cowie said.
North Carolina has similarly sought to increase testing. State officials asked in mid July for more federal testing sites to be set up in addition to the 13 in operation, said Kelly Haight Connor, a spokesperson for the state department of health and human services.
The state provided a list of nearly 60 zip codes where more testing is needed, but only one new site was added by July 22, Connor said. North Carolina had also received 57% of the swabs and 50% of the preservation substance for transporting specimens that it requested for July.
"There are currently nationwide barriers to further scaling widespread testing," Connor said.
Inslee spokesperson Mike Faulk called claims that governors have all they need "misleading" and cited data showing the federal government has provided just a fraction of the masks, respirators, gowns, gloves and ventilators that Washington has requested since late April.
"We are hearing from businesses and workers across Washington that they’re struggling to access PPE on the private market, are subject to price gouging, and being forced to use extreme conservation measures to stretch limited supplies over longer periods of time," Faulk said.
A handful of states are awaiting shipments or have orders under review. Maryland is waiting on a shipment date for a May order of 500,000 N-95 masks and 100 oxygen assemblies, said Charles Gischlar, a spokesperson for the Maryland Department of Health.
A spokesperson for the North Dakota Department of Health listed requests for masks, gloves, gowns, boot covers and other equipment that haven’t been completely filled. Idaho also has requests that are under review, but a spokesperson for the state’s emergency management agency praised FEMA for fulfilling all other requests for personal protective gear.
Some state representatives cited early problems but said the government has been responsive of late. Michael Pearlman, a spokesperson for Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, a Republican, said the state didn’t receive as many rapid response tests early in the crisis as it had requested, but he added: "I wouldn't say that Wyoming had specific requests that were not met."
The Pennsylvania Department of Health said the state has received most of what it has needed, but not everything it has requested. Spokesperson Nate Wardle said the state asked for about 1,000 ventilators early on, for example, but that it did not receive any.
"We were told that we would receive them if there ended up being a need, which there has not been," Wardle said. In April, Wardle and representatives from more than 30 other states told us they were not aware of any COVID-19 patients needing a ventilator and not getting one.
Representatives from other states — including Arizona, Arkansas, Colorado, and Ohio — said they have no outstanding requests. "This administration has made things happen when we've asked," said Patrick Ptak, a spokesperson for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, a Republican.
ABC News and CNN also queried all 50 states for their own fact-checks of Trump’s claims about the governors’ coronavirus needs. Both outlets heard from different states but found Trump’s claims to be inaccurate.
Hannity said, "This administration has fulfilled every request from every state governor."
That’s an exaggeration of the administration’s efforts to help states navigate the pandemic.
While some states said they have no requests outstanding, representatives from several others told us that they have requests they are waiting on or requests that were never filled.
Hogan, the Republican governor of Maryland and chair of the National Governors Association, said "it’s obviously not the case" that governors have everything they need.
We rate this statement False.
Fox News on YouTube, "Hannity: Why CNN won't highlight progress in the fight against COVID," July 21, 2020
CNN, "State of the Union," July 26, 2020
Gov. Larry Hogan on YouTube, "Press Conference - July 22, 2020," July 22, 2020
ABC News, "Despite Trump claim, 13 states say some orders for coronavirus supplies still unfilled," July 23, 2020
National Governors Association, "National Governors Association Leadership Urges Senate To Approve State Stabilization Funding," July 22, 2020
The White House, "Remarks by President Trump in Press Briefing," July 21, 2020
NBC News, "Fact check: Trump revisits familiar falsehoods in first coronavirus briefing in months," July 21, 2020
The New York Times, "As Trump Ignores Virus Crisis, Republicans Start to Break Ranks," July 19, 2020
The Washington Post, "Fighting alone," July 16, 2020
National Governors Association, "Governors Call On The Administration To Delay Changes To Hospital Reporting Requirements," July 16, 2020
NBC News, "Federal stockpile is thin amid coronavirus surge, internal documents show," July 14, 2020
The Washington Post, "America is running short on masks, gowns and gloves. Again." July 8, 2020
The Associated Press, "Protective gear for medical workers begins to run low again," July 7, 2020
The New York Times, "Months Into Virus Crisis, U.S. Cities Still Lack Testing Capacity," July 6, 2020
ABC News, "Trump administration slow to respond to protective gear shortages: Democrats," July 2, 2020
State of Washington, Letter from Gov. Jay Inslee to Vice President Mike Pence, June 10, 2020
National Governors Association, "Governors’ Letter Regarding COVID-19 Aid Request," April 21, 2020
The New York Times, "What Governors Say About Trump’s Response to Coronavirus," March 11, 2020
PolitiFact, "Can anyone who needs a ventilator get one? So far, it looks like it," April 21, 2020
PolitiFact, "Are states in a bidding war over medical gear with the feds?," April 1, 2020
Email interview with James Nash, press secretary for the National Governors Association, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Mike Faulk, deputy communications director for Washington Gov. Jay Inslee, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Alexandra Altman, deputy press secretary for New Jersey Gov. Phil Murphy, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Patrick Ptak, communications director for Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Tripp Stelnicki, director of communications for New Mexico Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Michael Pearlman, communications director for Wyoming Gov. Mark Gordon, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Dan Tierney, press secretary for Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Charles Boyle, deputy communications director for Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Robb Cowie, communications director for the Oregon Health Authority, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Mike Nowatski, communications director for North Dakota Gov. Doug Burgum, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Nicole Peske, chief communications officer for the North Dakota Department of Health, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Charles Gischlar, deputy director of communications for the Maryland Department of Health, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Kelly Haight Connor, communications manager for the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Janice Witherspoon, public affairs officer for the Idaho Office of Emergency Management, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Nate Wardle, press secretary for the Pennsylvania Department of Health, July 23, 2020
Email interview with the Colorado State Joint Information Center, July 23, 2020
Email interview with Danyelle McNeill, public information officer for the Arkansas Department of Health, July 23, 2020
Statement from the Federal Emergency Management Agency, July 23, 2020
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