Doctor slams Trump for wasting money on military flyovers for health workers

Joanna Taylor
Monday 18 May 2020 07:45
news

A US doctor passionately explained why he is sick of expensive tributes to healthcare workers, calling instead for tests and adequate PPE.

In a viral video, Dr. Bill Miller slammed the Trump administration for flying military planes over US cities, saying these are to "make the president look good" rather than really support doctors. ​

I read today they're going to have the Blue Angels and the other Air Force flying wizards fly over many cities for the healthcare workers to show their support. 

They cost $450,000 per flight over a city. So if there's two of them, that's $900,000. You want to help healthcare workers? These are the goddman N-95 masks we have to deal with. These are painters's masks!

Get us equipment. Get us PPE. Get us N-95 masks that are worth anything. Get us test for everybody, okay? Don't fly over something so we can see some craft for $450,000 to make the president look good. 

Military aircrafts the Blue Angels and the Thunderbirds have flown over at least ninety US cities including New York, New Jersey and Pennsylvania since late April. With each plane costing thousands of dollars to run, estimates suggest that the total cost of these flights, dubbed 'Operation America Strong', could be well over $5 million.

Donald Trump said at a press briefing that the flyovers were the "idea of our great military men and women".

The Thunderbirds and the Blue Angels crews who wanted to show support to the American medical workers who, just like military members in a time of war, are fiercely running toward the fight.

But people immediately questioned whether the flyovers were really the most fitting tribute for doctors and nurses, and their hefty price tag sparked ridicule online.

Following the backlash, the US Army and Navy issued a joint statement in which they said the flyovers come at no additional cost to taxpayers because "pilots must execute a minimum number of flight hours to maintain proficiency" anyway.

Ultimately, the flyovers cost a tiny fraction of the​ US military's annual budget of $750bn.

Meanwhile, hospitals in the US have struggled to supply healthcare workers with sufficient PPE. A survey by volunteer group getusppe.org found that by 8 April, 36 per cent of hospitals had totally run out of face shields, and a further 34 per cent were set to run out within a week.

Of the 978 institutions surveyed, 34 per cent had run out of thermometers and 19 per cent were out of hospital gowns.

As such, people sympathised with Dr. Miller's pleas that the US government refocus on providing healthcare with the PPE and medical equipment they need.

N95 masks are still listed as being in "high demand" by getusppe.org. More than 6,000 US hospitals and healthcare facilities are still requesting PPE from them, according to a recent report in medical journal The Lancet.

So whilst taxpayers may not have to shell out for military flyovers directly this year, it's still hard to see them as more than a frivolous expense whilst hospitals struggle to supply their workers with adequate equipment.

As Dr. Miller put it:

You want to help healthcare workers? Take that same money and feed the people in the inner city that don't have anything to eat. Don't fly over and say oh, aren't they great? Come on, let's get real.

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