March 16, 2020

Lujan Grisham tells Trump on conference call that states need more help

Kendra Chamberlain

Michelle Lujan Grisham during the her 2020 State of the State address.

On a conference call with governors, including New Mexico’s Michelle Lujan Grisham, President Donald Trump said states will be on their own when it comes to medical equipment like respirators and ventilators, according to a report by the New York Times.

The equipment will be necessary when serious cases of COVID-19, a type of coronavirus, grow. 

From the New York Times report:

“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” Mr. Trump told the governors during the conference call, a recording of which was shared with The New York Times.

“We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”

The Times quoted Lujan Grisham as saying on the call, “If one state doesn’t get the resources and materials they need, the entire nation continues to be at risk.”

After the conference call, Lujan Grisham requested a call from Vice President Mike Pence, who is the administration’s point person on the coronavirus response. 

Lujan Grisham’s office says Pence called her and that he committed to helping the state get the materials needed to help with the response.

Before the call with Pence, the governor’s Director of Communications Tripp Stelnicki said in an email that the state was trying to leverage the help of private partners, mentioning attempts to purchase a new machine to expand the state’s testing capacity. 

However, the office says the governor also feels the federal government isn’t helping create a nationwide system to aid all states, and that states should not be competitive with each other.

Earlier this month, the state of Washington, among the hardest-hit states, received less than half of its request for respirators and surgical masks.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said on Sunday that the country has 12,700 ventilators in reserves. That number may not be enough.

This comes as Lujan Grisham and other governors have taken drastic measures in an attempt to slow the spread of COVID-19. Starting today, public schools are closed for three weeks and restaurants can only have half of their maximum capacity and half of their number of tables occupied. And last week, the state Department of Health banned “mass gatherings” of 100 or more people, shutting down concerts, theater performances, sporting events, conferences and more.

As of March 15, 17 people in New Mexico had tested positive for COVID-19, out of 583 total tests.