ALLENTOWN, Pa. (AP) — President Donald Trump says the coronavirus pandemic highlights the importance of U.S. manufacturing and moving supply chains out of China, a rival he blames for not doing enough to slow the spread.
“These stupid supply chains that are all over the world — we have a supply chain where they’re made in all different parts of the world,” Trump said in an interview with Fox Business Network’s Maria Bartiromo that aired Thursday. “And one little piece of the world goes bad and the whole thing is messed up.”
“We should have them all in the United States,” he added.
Trump’s interview aired hours before he arrived in Allentown, Pennsylvania, to highlight a U.S. medical equipment distributor that is contributing to the effort to manufacture and ship personal protective gear across the country to help with the coronavirus response.
Trump did not wear a face covering as he stepped off of Air Force One. During the flight, chief of staff Mark Meadows wore a navy blue face mask embossed with the presidential seal in gold. Before Trump arrived, officials had wiped down the hand rails on the staircase.
It it Trump's second trip in as many weeks as he tries to convince the American public that it’s time for states to begin to reopen, even as the virus continues to spread.
Trump was to tour Owens and Minor Inc., which the White House says has sent millions of N95 masks, surgical gowns and gloves to U.S. hospitals.
While health safety precautions around the president have increased in recent days, Trump has yet to be seen in public wearing a mask. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says Americans should wear cloth face-coverings in public in situations where social distancing is difficult to prevent unknowingly spreading the virus. Trump is tested daily for the virus; the White House says he is negative.
In remarks at the company, Trump intended to discuss efforts to restock the Strategic National Stockpile to prepare for future pandemics by having an up to 90-day supply of materials, equipment and drugs, according to the White House.,
Owens & Minor says it has put in place new procedures because of the virus, including restricting visitors to its distribution and manufacturing facilities and requiring employees to wear personal protective equipment and undergo temperature checks.
The state has set masking and social distancing requirements for all businesses that are allowed to operate.
Gov. Tom Wolf, D-Pa., is under increasing pressure to roll back coronavirus restrictions after effectively containing the state’s outbreak early on, battling a Republican revolt over his stay-at-home orders and business shutdowns. Counties have threatened to defy his orders while at least a few business owners have reopened their doors despite his warnings.
Trump won Pennsylvania by a mere 44,000 votes four years ago. But in a backlash against him, in 2018 the area voted for a Democrat to represent it in Congress for the first time in two decades.
Allentown is about 75 miles from Scranton, where likely Democratic presidential nominee Joe Biden was born. The former vice president's campaign has become increasingly hopeful of returning Pennsylvania to the Democratic column, where it had been since 1992 until 2016.
Pennsylvania is 10th among states in overall infection rate, with some 59,000 confirmed coronavirus cases, or roughly 450 per 100,000 residents, and nearly 4,000 deaths, according to federal statistics.
New infections have been trending down, though, and Wolf has been easing restrictions in lightly affected counties, but not fast enough for some.
Trump weighed in on the intensifying political fight Monday by tweeting: “The great people of Pennsylvania want their freedom now, and they are fully aware of what that entails.”