Colorado receives 100 ventilators in lieu of requested 10,000

Illustration: Alex Stallsworth· The Sentry

Illustration: Alex Stallsworth· The Sentry
The contribution looks like a political favor from Trump to Cory Gardner

As governments and hospitals around the world compete against each other for limited Coronavirus medical and safety supplies, Colorado luckily received 100 ventilators—currently the only device which can help critically ill COVID-19 patients—all seemingly sent by the President himself. Trump broke the news on Twitter on April 8, in a response to Colorado senator Cory Gardner, saying, “will be immediately sending 100 Ventilators to Colorado at the request of Senator Gardner.”

Though Colorado’s primarily democratic leadership is glad to have the supplies, many criticize the move as an obvious political favor to a GOP senator up for reelection. 9News journalist Kyle Clark pointed out, “Colorado’s Governor says FEMA blocked the state’s purchase of 500 ventilators. Now 100 are sent here as a favor to a political ally of the President. Colorado will take ventilators however we can get them but the obviousness of this would be laughable if people weren’t dying.”

Governor Jared Polis had initially told FEMA (Federal Emergency Management Agency) the state would need 10,000 ventilators. But, as Colorado continued to wait for supplies, Polis worked out a deal to purchase 500 ventilators from a private manufacturer. However, the order was apparently cancelled at the request of FEMA so they could obtain the equipment instead. Lee dePalo, regional administrator for FEMA Region VIII, clarified that, though he had no knowledge on the specific incident with Colorado, in many cases a supplier will make a deal with a state and then find out their equipment has already been reserved under the Defense Production Act.

The federal stockpile contains only 6,000 ventilators, so distribution is determined by FEMA’s assessment of a state’s need rather than by what the state requests. After a phone call with the president stressing Colorado’s need, Cory Gardner was able to acquire 100 of the 6,000.

In an article from Feb. 26, The Sentry reported that Senator Gardner’s vote to acquit Trump in the impeachment trial looked like an appeal to right-wing Colorado voters for their support in his reelection campaign. Now, it seems Trump has been returning the favor. In left trending Colorado, Cory Gardner is one of the most vulnerable reelection candidates of the 23 republican held senate seats up for election in November, and Trump has been doing his part to help Gardner win a second term. The president has included Gardner in multiple campaign rallies and fundraising events, using his influence to connect the senator with wealthy donors. An event in Colorado Springs, scheduled for Mar. 13 (but cancelled due to Coronavirus), would have sold VIP tickets for $100,000.

Though the above are orthodox means of political support, Trump’s alleged partisan distribution of medical supplies have received harsh criticism. Last month, when the governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, criticized Trump’s pandemic response, the president suggested that federal support should be withheld from states that have been unappreciative. He said of Mike Pence, his appointed head of the COVID-19 response, in a press briefing, “he calls all the governors — I’m a different person. I say, ‘Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington, you’re wasting your time with him. Don’t call the woman in Michigan,” (referring to Whitmer). Colorado senate candidate Andrew Romanoff said of Trump’s behavior, “The pandemic isn’t partisan—saving lives shouldn’t be either.”

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