USRESIST Government Coronavirus Watch Post

Post # 3 Mismanagement of the Pandemic Response

April 23, 2020

The  Government Coronavirus Watch Post is a new US RESIST NEWS blog post written by Sean Gray. The Post provides information and analysis of the federal government’s response to the coronavirus. Wherever possible we seek to be supportive as the coronavirus threatens the health and economic welfare of our nation, and we need government leadership to deal with the virus crisis.

The Mismanagement of a Pandemic Response

The Trump Administration’s handling of the coronavirus outbreak has been scatterbrained and inconsistent. Failure to adequately prepare and heed credible warnings are largely responsible for the nation’s current quagmire. Compounding missteps are the falsehoods and misinformation coming from the president. The numerous blunders and lack of transparency have propelled the crisis to levels that could have been averted.

No one could have predicted the emergence of Covd-19 20 months ago, but the threat of a global pandemic was real. Former Director of National Intelligence, Dan Coats, warned Congress in February of 2018 that the frequency of infectious disease  outbreaks like Zika or dengue fever increased the likelihood of a global emergency costing lives and major disruption. In the months that followed Trump signed a bill slashing $1.35 billion from the Prevention and Public Health Fund at the Center for Disease Control and disbanded the team responsible for pandemic response.

An Obama-era collaboration with a medical manufacturer sought to make Personal Protective Equipment  machines that could produce up to 1.5 million masks per day in the event of emergency. The administration received blueprints for said machines in September ’18, entered into a million dollar contract with the company, which was then sold to another company that didn’t complete the manufacturing. The same month, Alex Azar, Seceratary of Health and Human Services, reallocated $266 million from the CDC to build housing for the children of detained immigrants. Public health, specifically pandemic preparedness, was clearly not properly prioritized by the administration.

In January the president was provided with a detailed explanation of the looming threat of the coronavirus. Not until March 13th did Trump declare a national emergency. In that time the warnings grew louder. New cases sprung up in new places around the country. The infectiousness and lethality of the virus became known. Trump scoffed at the writing on the wall and minimized the danger of the outbreak. He stated publicly that ‘’we have the virus pretty well under control’’ and ‘’the number of cases would soon be zero.’’ Worse he held five rallies across five states between February 10th through March 2nd. Thousands in attendance gathered to potentially contact and spread the coronavirus while being told by the president that it’s nothing to worry about. All of this occurred while White House Officials and several Senators implored the president to take the coronavirus seriously. Time that should have been spent mitigating the damage of the inevitable was squandered through inaction and ignorance.

The end results of these failures have played out across the nation over the last month and change. Inadequate supplies of personal protective equipment and ventilators have left states scrambling for resources necessary to contain spread. A shortage of tests prevents officials from knowing exactly how many people are infected. Since declaring a national emergency, Trump has resumed daily briefings at the White House. He’s used the pulpit to lash out, blame others for his mismanagement and pitch snake oil. Trump said in a March briefing ‘’I don’t take responsibility at all.’’ He  blamed China, ‘’Do-Nothing Democrats’’, and the World Health Organization. In his ire at the WHO, he threatened to cut off their funding ($893million, ~15% of their budget) during the worst global health crisis in a century.  Most irresponsible is his promotion of the malaria drug, hydroxychlorquine, for treating Covid-19.  Only anecdotal evidence existed of the drug’s efficacy to treat the virus. That didn’t stop Trump from touting it as a miracle drug of sorts. A small study by the VA this week linked the drug to increased deaths and no benefit to Covid patients. The CDC’s top specialists in infectious disease stand beside Trump at his press conferences. His personal medical opinion should not be presented alongside theirs.

Misleading statements and a lack of transparency have been the only constants of the administration’s response. A public informed with accurate information is paramount during a global health outbreak. It is incumbent upon a president and his administration to offer truthful information as it pertains to public health. Trump’s habitual deceit has exacerbated and confused the situation. In February he dismissed the Coronavirus as seasonal and said it ‘’would go away in April.’’ He denied the threat of the virus until he couldn’t. Yet he would later go on to claim that he felt the situation was a pandemic long before anyone else did. To hear the president tell it, his administration has done a wonderful job, responded tremendously across the board, and saved many many lives. The reality reflects a far grimmer situation and the discrepancy between Trump’s words and that reality serve only to conceal truth.

Trump’s fitness for office has been questioned since before he was sworn in. He has proven himself out of his depth on numerous occasions. Never before has he looked so ill-equipped.

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