President Donald Trump holds a medical testing swab near his nose as he tours Puritan Medical Products, a medical swab manufacturer
AP Photo/Patrick Semansky
Puritan Medical Products, a medical swab manufacturer, will reportedly have to throw away all the coronavirus swabs made during President Trump’s visit to the factory on Friday.
A spokesperson for Puritan did not disclose the reason, nor how many swabs will be lost.
Though workers wore lab coats and personal protective equipment, Trump did not wear a mask while touring the facility.
The company has received nearly $80 million from the federal government to double its production capacity, and told NPR in early April that it was running on a six-days-per-week schedule to meet the nation’s demand.
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Puritan Medical Products, a medical swab manufacturer, says it will have to discard all of the swabs made in the background of President Donald Trump’s visit to the factory on Friday.
While workers on the factory floor wore lab coats and personal protective equipment, Trump did not wear a mask while touring the facility or visiting with employees.
In a statement to USA TODAY, Puritan did not disclose either its reasoning for dumping the coronavirus swabs or the number of coronavirus tests that would be lost.
Puritan, which the White House said received nearly $80 million from the federal government to double its production capacity, is one of only two companies in the world that make the kind of swabs needed in coronavirus testing.
In early April, its vice president of sales, Timothy Templet, told NPR that the company was running on a six-days-per-week schedule with two 10-hour shifts per day to meet the nation’s overwhelming demand. On top of a scientific process and standards to meet before putting a swab on the market, Templet also cited manpower as an additional hurdle to meeting demand, due to its rural location in Guilford, Maine (population 1,521).
Trump’s visit to Puritan was his most recent stop at a company producing medical equipment to address the needs of the coronavirus pandemic — and it was not without pushback from local officials.
“I’m very concerned that your presence may cause security problems for our state,” Maine Gov. Janet Mills, a Democrat, told the president on a conference call with state leaders on Monday, according to Bloomberg News.
Trump said he would look into her concerns but that he expected “a tremendous crowd of people showing up” — “most of them are very favorable, they like their president.”
Despite Trump’s public praise for the US’ response COVID-19, Maine public health officials have named a shortage of supplies like swabs and chemicals as the reason coronavirus testing hasn’t scaled up.
Nursing homes are among those hardest hit by the spread of COVID-19, but nearly a third of Maine’s nursing homes reported that they had no nasal swabs to collect specimens last month, according to the Portland Press Herald. Nearly 61% of respondents to a Maine Medical Directors Association survey said they had seven or fewer at their disposal, while 32% said they had none at all. The same month, nursing homes accounted for a quarter of the nation’s coronavirus deaths.
On Friday, the visit brought Trump supporters to downtown Guilford as well as protesters with Black Lives Matter signs in response to the police killing George Floyd in Minneapolis.
Trump criticized Mills’ plans to reopen the state after the coronavirus shutdown.
“When are you going to open this state up?” Trump said. “You do 40 million [people] in tourism. This is your time… You have a lot of angry people about that in Maine. This is not one that should be closed. You’re missing a lot of money, a lot of people, a lot of spirit.”
“I have spent the better part of my career listening to loud men talk tough to disguise their weakness,” Mills said in a response. “That’s what I heard today. I don’t care what the President says about me. I care what he does for Maine people. And that’s not very much.”
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