Hancock on federal response

CoPIRG Foundation director Danny Katz, top, speaks on a Zoom press call with Denver Mayor Michael Hancock Wednesday morning to criticize the federal response to the coronavirus pandemic.

Denver Mayor Michael Hancock said President Trump has failed a test of basic leadership in the wake of the pandemic, as cities and states struggle to find the equipment they need to respond.

"States and municipalities have had to figure this out together," Hancock told reporters in a conference call Wednesday morning. "We don't mind playing our role."

He said that "99.5% of the time" that's no problem, but in a national crisis the federal government must do its part.

"I think this is where you see who's fit and who isn't," Hancock said. "The federal government has completely failed our nation in preparing and making sure we have everything."

Hancock attributed it to the White House refusing to acknowledge and prepare for the crisis early on.

He praised the leadership of Gov. Jared Polis, who Hancock said shared his frustrations with the federal government.

Hancock is among the 114 mayors calling on the Trump administration to ramp up the production and delivery of medical supplies to respond to the coronavirus emergency.

Cities, like states, are facing critical shortages of masks and other personal protective equipment in addition to ventilators.

Wednesday's call was coordinated by the left-leaning CoPIRG Foundation as part of a national campaign to  unveil a letter signed by 114 mayors from 18 states, including Hancock. CoPIRG alleged the Trump administration's efforts "fall short of what’s needed to ensure cities and towns obtain critical medical equipment for protecting health care workers and caring for COVID-19 patients."

You can read the mayors' letter to Trump by clicking here.

"Centralized, federal leadership is necessary for the efficient and economical purchase and distribution of medical equipment, including personal protective equipment and ventilators," the letter states. "State and local governments depend on the federal government for aid and assistance during times of national emergency."

The letter accuses the Trump administration of, instead, "bowing to pressure from business interests."

The city provided numbers Wednesday that indicated that as of Saturday it had requested 322,755 N-95 masks and received 18,640. It requestioned 1.1 million surgical masks and received 25,000, as well as 60,000 gowns and netted 10,266.

Hancock has set a stay-at-home order in place until April 30, four days longer than the state order. 

Denver is preparing to use the Colorado Convention Center as an overflow medical facility, and Hancock announced Tuesday that the city would open up the National Western Center to help house up to 600 men and allow for social distancing, which is not possible with the city's existing homeless shelters.

Republican leaders, naturally, see it differently.

“President Trump and Cory Gardner are working to ensure Colorado has the respirators, ventilators, and protective equipment necessary to combat COVID-19," Kyle Kohli, spokesman for the Republican National Committee in Colorado, said Wednesday. "By invoking the Defense Production Act and working with private sector partners, PPE and ventilators are now being produced effectively, efficiently, and quickly.

"Governor Polis himself said he believes Colorado has a sufficient supply of ventilators, while PPE continues to be distributed by FEMA to COVID hotspots around the country.”

Kohli routinely sends out updates to the press lauding the president's "strong leadership," citing Trump's recent signing of the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act on March 27.

"Critical to that effort is ensuring small businesses and workers get the relief they need to get through this crisis, which is why President Trump and his administration are also taking monumental steps to ensure measures are put in place so families and small business owners can recover economically," Kohli said in an email Monday, before listing the relief measures in the stimulus package.

On March 31, the RNC sent out a press release citing quotes from Democratic leaders, including  Polis, who cited "forging new and innovating partnerships daily with the federal government." 

"It is clear that President Trump is working with leaders across the political spectrum to put the American people ahead of politics, and his strong leadership is why Americans are confident in his ability to get us through this together," Kohli said then.

Polis is one of the governors who have been critical of the federal government for being slow to respond to the global pandemic and provide resources to the state.

Trump has positioned the federal government as the second line of defense for states.

“Remember, we are a backup for them," he tweeted on April 2. "The complainers should have been stocked up and ready long before this crisis hit.”

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