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COVID-19

News >  WA Government

Pence and Inslee talk, despite Trump’s suggestion

UPDATED: Mon., March 30, 2020

Gov. Jay Inslee, left, and Vice President Mike Pence talk about Washington state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak early this month, with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and other members of the  state’s Congressional delegation in the background. (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)
Gov. Jay Inslee, left, and Vice President Mike Pence talk about Washington state’s response to the COVID-19 outbreak early this month, with Rep. Cathy McMorris Rodgers and other members of the state’s Congressional delegation in the background. (Jim Camden / The Spokesman-Review)

OLYMPIA – Mike Pence talked with Washington Gov. Jay Inslee by phone Monday, despite the suggestion by President Donald Trump last week that the vice president stop calling.

Inslee said later he doesn’t think the president’s feelings for him are affecting the help Washington is getting from the federal government.

“I think we have good, open communications, as indicated that I talked with the vice president and had a professional discussion,” Inslee said during a news conference.

Pence and Inslee had what the governor’s staff described as a one-on-one “friendly and cordial” call during which the vice president promised to look into supplies Washington has asked for.

During a news conference Friday, Trump said he advised Pence not to call governors who weren’t being “appreciative.” After praising the work Pence is doing as the head of the federal response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Trump said the vice president was calling all the governors but Trump wouldn’t.

“I tell him, I’m a different type of person,” Trump said. “I say Mike, don’t call the governor of Washington. You’re wasting your time with him.”

During an earlier call with other governors, Inslee had pressed for Trump to use federal law to order manufacturers to build ventilators, according to news accounts. Trump said the federal government was serving as a backup, prompting Inslee to counter the nation doesn’t need a backup, “we need a Tom Brady,” referring to the star quarterback.

Every state has a shortage of protective equipment, Inslee said. Washington has received hundreds of thousands of shipments from the federal stockpile and “we’re going to need a lot more help from the federal government before we’re out of the woods,” he added.

He also praised the work of the U.S. Army unit setting up a field hospital at CenturyLink Field in Seattle, and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers, which is scouting locations for more hospital capacity.

After last week, Trump ordered companies to manufacture more ventilators and “that was a good decision,” Inslee said. But the president should use that same order to mobilize companies to make test kits and the equipment that goes with them, like swabs, vials and containers.

“This could really use federal leadership to get this job done, so that any place in the United States where there’s a company that could be making those test kits, should be making those test kits,” he said.

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