Federal officials expressed worry about shortages of masks and other types of personal protective equipment (PPE) while President Donald Trump was boasting about his administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic.
According to Politico, a May 1 conference call with officials from the Federal Emergency Management Agency and the Department of Health and Human Services included dire predictions.
"The numbers of deaths definitely will be high," Daniel Jernigan, who serves as the director of the Influenza Division at the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said on the call.
A short time later, another official on the call said lifting social distancing orders may result in a ventilator shortage at hospitals.
"If, at the end of stay-at-home orders, you were to lift everything and go back to normal business, and not have any community mitigation, you would expect to see in the second week in May we begin to increase again in ventilator uses," the official said. "Which means cases increase, and by early June, we surpass the number of ventilators we currently have."
On the same day, Trump said the White House helped hospitals nationwide by securing additional ventilators and PPE.
"We've ensured a ventilator for every patient who needs one," Trump said. "The testing and the masks and all of the things, we've solved every problem. We solved it quickly.
"We have millions and millions of masks," he added. "That was something, four weeks ago, [that] was difficult, and now we have millions of masks coming in and already here."
Several states are starting to reopen from coronavirus restrictions, albeit with continued guidelines for people to stay apart from others and to wear masks.
As of Wednesday morning, more than 1.2 million Americans had been infected with COVID-19 and more than 72,000 have died.
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