[On May 1, Trump’s] own health and emergency management officials were privately warning that states were still experiencing shortages of masks, gowns and other medical gear, according to a recording of an interagency meeting between FEMA and HHS officials across the country, conducted by conference call, which was obtained by POLITICO.
Trump’s federal ‘Stay at Home’ guidelines had quietly expired the night before, leaving states to manage the pandemic as they saw fit. The officials also expressed concern that governors moving to reopen their economies while cases were still prevalent threatened to plunge the nation into a new and potentially deadlier chapter of the outbreak.
‘The numbers of deaths definitely will be high,’ Daniel Jernigan, director of the Center for Disease Control’s influenza division, said at the start of a May 1 conference call. Jernigan did not respond to an emailed request for comment.
Minutes later, another official underscored the risk facing the U.S.: If all the states moved to lift their social distancing restrictions, hospitals nationwide could see a surge of new coronavirus cases, creating the potential for severe ventilator shortages within weeks.
‘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.’