WASHINGTON — President Donald Trump pushed back on a nurse's claim about the supply of personal protective equipment during an event at the Oval Office honoring healthcare workers on National Nurses Day.
When asked by a reporter if PPE supplies were limited, Sophia L. Thomas, president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners, said her supply is "sporadic" and she's been reusing the same mask for "a few weeks."
"I mean, I talk to my colleagues around the country. Certainly, there are pockets around the country where PPE is not ideal, but this is an unprecedented time," she said.
"I've been reusing my N95 mask for a few weeks now," Thomas, who practices in New Orleans at a community health center, added. "I just broke out a new one to come here in case I needed to wear it. … So PPE has been sporadic, but it's been manageable, and we do what we have to do. We're nurses. And we learn to adapt and do whatever, the best thing that we can do for our patients to get the job done and get the care provided. And that's what we're going to continue to do as COVID-19 continues."
The president responded by saying, “Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people.”
"Oh no, I agree Mr. President, absolutely," Thomas said quickly after.
You can listen to the interaction in the White House video below, starting around 34:51.
Trump continued to tell reporters and Oval Office visitors that hospitals are "loaded up with gowns." He discussed how he's heard the United States has a tremendous amount of supplies.
Another nurse spoke after the president and said she hasn't seen a shortage of personal protective equipment. Sparking Trump to say that the much-talked about shortages are "fake news."
"So, you don't see that when you hear the stories? You know why? Because they're fake news, that's why," Trump said. "I really appreciate you saying that. It's so nice that you stepped up. Because they're fake news."
Health care workers have reported a shortage of PPE when the virus spread across the country.
In April, the inspector general of the Health and Human Services Department released a report that claimed U.S. hospitals had " widespread shortages of PPE," which put "staff and patients at risk."