President Trump attempted to correct a nurse practitioner who said personal protective equipment is "not ideal" in parts of the country, and said she has been reusing her own N95 mask for "several weeks." The president also called reports of PPE shortages "fake news" during his Oval Office event intended to honor nurses on the front lines of the pandemic on National Nurses Day.
Sophia Thomas, the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners who works at a community health center in New Orleans, explained to the president how they have to reuse personal protective equipment.
"I think it's sporadic," Thomas said when asked how the PPE supply is now. "As I talk to my colleagues around the country certainly there are pockets where PPE is not ideal. But this is an unprecedented time. And the infection control measures we learned back when we went to school, one gown, one mask, one patient a day per time, this is a different time."
"I've been reusing my N95 mask for a few weeks now," Thomas told the president. "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. That's what we're going to continue to do as COVID-19 continues."
The president added, "Sporadic for you, but not sporadic for a lot of other people," to which Thomas responded, "Oh no, I agree Mr. President, absolutely."
The president told the Oval Office visitors he's heard the opposite, that hospitals are "loaded up with gowns now." Another nurse in the room said health workers have had to make adjustments to the way they use protective equipment in order to stretch out the time they can use the gear.
Then a different nurse from south New Jersey spoke after the president to say she hasn't observed a shortage of PPE, prompting the president to dismiss reports ofas "fake news."
"So, you don't see that when you hear the stories? You know why? Because they're fake news, that's why. I really appreciate you saying that. It's so nice that you stepped up. Because they're fake news," the president said.
The president went on to say that he's done more than any other president in history in three years. Pressed by Reuters' Jeff Mason, the president admitted that thereat the beginning of the pandemic. The admission came on the same day that the Defense Department announced a new $126 million deal with 3M for increased N95 medical-grade masks — 26 million per month — beginning in October.