Donald Trump sends Italy $100 million medical supplies while US medics cry out for support

31 March 2020, 10:54 | Updated: 31 March 2020, 15:42

Donald Trump is sending $100 million of medical supplies to Italy
Donald Trump is sending $100 million of medical supplies to Italy. Picture: PA

By Kate Buck

Donald Trump has announced he is sending $100 million of medical supplies to Italy, while US states break out into a "bidding war" over equipment.

Speaking at the daily press conference at the White House on Monday, the US President said he had spoken with Italian Prime MinisterĀ Giuseppe Conte over the phone.

"We're going to be sending approximately $100 million worth of things, of surgical and medical and hospital things to Italy," Mr added.

"And Giuseppe was very, very happy, I will tell you that, they're having a very hard time."

But other states have said they are struggling to fill the demand for supplies as cases around the country skyrocket.

The US now has the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, with more than 162,000 so far.

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Mr Trump also revealed a new Covid-19 test that can be rolled out across the US
Mr Trump also revealed a new Covid-19 test that can be rolled out across the US. Picture: PA

More than 3,000 have also died, and the death toll is expected to exceed that of China's today.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has previously spoken about the national bidding war that is erupting as America tries to grapple with the pandemic.

On Monday he said: "We're in a situation where you have 50 states all competing for supplies.

"The federal government is also competing for supplies, private hospitals are also competing for supplies.

"So we've created a situation where you literally have hundreds of entities looking to buy the same exact materials."

Rural states have said they themselves do not have enough supplies to ensure the safety of their citizens, and orders of supplies have been cancelled as the federal government has been buying them up.

Mr Trump addressed reporters inside the Rose Garden at the White House
Mr Trump addressed reporters inside the Rose Garden at the White House. Picture: PA

Democrat Montana Governor Steve Bullock told CBS News he had spoken to Mr Trump about this issue.

He said: "I could give four or five examples over the last week where we have supply orders, and they've subsequently been cancelled, and they're cancelled in part because what our suppliers are saying is that federal resources are requesting it and trump that."

But Mr Trump, who has repeatedly congratulated himself on the handling of the Covid-19 outbreak, remains confident that America has enough, and will "outpace" what they need.

He told assembled reporters in the White House Rose Garden: "As we outpace what we need, we're going to be sending them to Italy, we're going to be sending them to France, we're going to be sending them to Spain where they have tremendous problems.

"And other countries when we can."

New York is the epicentre of the outbreak of the US, which has seen 162,000 cases across the country
New York is the epicentre of the outbreak of the US, which has seen 162,000 cases across the country. Picture: PA

New York is currently the nations coronavirus epicentre, with Governor Cuomo New York's governor describing the outbreak as "staggering".

He has issued an urgent appeal for medical volunteers, and said an additional 1 million health care workers are needed to tackle the crisis.

"Please come help us in New York now," Governor Andrew Cuomo said as the state's death toll climbed by more than 250 in a single day to a total of more than 1,200 victims, most of them in the city.

"We've lost over 1,000 New Yorkers," Mr Cuomo said.

"To me, we're beyond staggering already. We've reached staggering."

Even before the governor's appeal, close to 80,000 former nurses, doctors and other professionals in New York were stepping up to volunteer.

Meanwhile a Navy hospital ship, also sent to the city after 9/11, had arrived with 1,000 beds to relieve pressure on overwhelmed hospitals.

The spike in deaths in New York was another sign of the long fight ahead against the global pandemic, which was filling Spain's intensive care beds to capacity and shutting millions of Americans inside.

New Orleans, Detroit and a number of other cities are also seeing alarming clusters.

"Anyone who says this situation is a New York City-only situation is in a state of denial," Mr Cuomo said.

"You see this virus move across the state. You see this virus move across the nation. There is no American who is immune to this virus."

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the US government's top infectious-disease expert, similarly warned that smaller cities are likely about to see cases "take off" the way they have in New York City.

"What we've learned from painful experience with this outbreak is that it goes along almost on a straight line, then a little acceleration, acceleration, then it goes way up," he said on ABC's Good Morning America.