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Trump says he’s working to get protective supplies to Massachusetts

Boxes of N95 face masks in Tupelo, Miss.
Boxes of N95 face masks in Tupelo, Miss.Thomas Wells/AP/file

President Trump said Sunday night that he’s “trying to get things to Massachusetts as rapidly as possible” after state officials have said the federal government has undermined them when they try to order supplies to fight the coronavirus, such as N95 masks and ventilators.

On Sunday night, during Trump’s nationally broadcast coronavirus briefing, a reporter asked, “States like Florida have reportedly had 100 percent of their request for supplies from the national strategic stockpile filled, but other states like Massachusetts have not. So how is that assessment being made, and why has Florida gotten their requests filled?”

“I was on a call yesterday with the governors and they were happy ... it was falsely reported by a couple people, ‘Oh gee, they weren’t.’ Florida has been taken care of, Michigan has been taken care of.”

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Trump continued, “Massachusetts, we’re dealing with the governor very strongly, and trying to get things to Massachusetts as rapidly as possible.”

Governor Charlie Baker’s office could not immediately be reached for comment Sunday night.

Baker has grown visibly agitated speaking about the issue in recent days. On Thursday, he said his administration has watched orders “evaporate,” and he even seemed to stop short of cursing.

“I’m telling you, we’re killing ourselves trying to make it happen,” Baker said Thursday.

“We’ve literally gotten to the point where our basic position is that until the god . . ." Baker said, cutting himself off . “Until the thing shows up here in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts, it doesn’t exist."

Marylou Sudders, who’s heading the state’s coronavirus command center, used the example of a shipment of 3 million masks that BJ’s Wholesale Club purchased and had landed in the Port of New York and New Jersey. The state, she said, had negotiated to buy them, until the federal government impounded them on March 18.

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“They take,” Sudders said, “what we order.”

Massachusetts has seen a total of 4,955 coronavirus cases as of Sunday, according to the state. There were also four new deaths, bringing that count to 48.

Matt Stout and Victoria McGrane of the Globe staff contributed to this report.


Jaclyn Reiss can be reached at jaclyn.reiss@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter: @JaclynReiss