A Top Official On The National Security Council
Timothy Ziemer was a director on the National Security Council, heading a team focused on Global Health Security and Biodefense. The position was created by then-president Barack Obama in 2014, after an Ebola epidemic convinced White House officials that a dedicated staff was necessary to coordinate the response to future disease crises. In 2018, Ziemer left the government as Trump eliminated his directorate, with the responsibility for responding to a pandemic folded into the team in charge of arms control and fighting the spread of nuclear and biological weapons.
The Trump administration maintains that no capability was lost in this reshuffle, but criticsincluding former members of the directoratesay that the vacuum of leadership and expertise in the initial White House response shows how important it is to have senior staff focused on the risks of pandemic. Responding to an epidemic requires cooperation across a variety of government agencies, but without a dedicated coordinator, none has the responsibility to solve the problem. As one independent think tank noted in November 2019, while calling for the position to be reinstated, it remains unclear who would be in charge at the White House in the case of a grave pandemic threat.
Exclusive: Us Axed Cdc Expert Job In China Months Before Virus Outbreak
WASHINGTON Several months before the coronavirus pandemic began, the Trump administration eliminated a key American public health position in Beijing intended to help detect disease outbreaks in China, Reuters has learned.
The American disease expert, a medical epidemiologist embedded in Chinas disease control agency, left her post in July, according to four sources with knowledge of the issue. The first cases of the new coronavirus may have emerged as early as November, and as cases exploded, the Trump administration in February chastised China for censoring information about the outbreak and keeping U.S. experts from entering the country to help.
It was heartbreaking to watch, said Bao-Ping Zhu, a Chinese American who served in that role, which was funded by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, between 2007 and 2011. If someone had been there, public health officials and governments across the world could have moved much faster.
Zhu and the other sources said the American expert, Dr. Linda Quick, was a trainer of Chinese field epidemiologists who were deployed to the epicenter of outbreaks to help track, investigate and contain diseases.
As an American CDC employee, they said, Quick was in an ideal position to be the eyes and ears on the ground for the United States and other countries on the coronavirus outbreak, and might have alerted them to the growing threat weeks earlier.
ALERT FROM CHINAS CDC
ONCE FRIENDS, NOW RIVALS
Us Is Less Safe From Coronavirus When Cdc Goes Quiet Former Director Says
The CDC directors weak position often forces them to rely instead on the HHS secretary for political support.
The relationship between the CDC director and the HHS secretary is really important, because the secretary can either use their political connections in the White House to protect and support the CDC or they can take a step back and let the CDC be hung out to dry, a former CDC official told STAT. Its kind of crazy: This huge, highly influential agency and we had almost no political heft behind us.
Some of the blame for the CDCs failure to ward off political pressure this time around should fall on health secretary Alex Azar, former HHS Secretary Donna Shalala told STAT in an interview.
When the White House wants to interfere, theyll interfere not directly through the CDC director, but through the secretary, Shalala, who now serves as a Democrat in the House of Representatives, said. The secretary has to make it very clear: Do not touch.
In the case of Redfield, there are tensions with the White House beyond the usual structural ones: While Redfield was once dubbed the MAGA whisperer for his willingness to appeal directly to Trumps ultraconservative base, Trump has beaten up viciously on the CDC. Rumors have swirled for months that Redfields job is in danger because of Trumps ire.
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No Trump Did Not Refuse Who Testing Kits
Another hot topic hoax Democrats and the media have been pushing is Joe Bidens claim during Sundays Democrat debate that President Trump refused an offer of Wuhan coronavirus test kits by the World Health Organization .
No, look, the World Health Organization offered offered the testing kits that they have available and to give it to us now. We refused them. We did not want to buy them. We did not want to get them from them. We wanted to make sure we had our own. I think he said something like we have the best scientists in America, or something to that effect.
Biden appears to have come to this incorrect conclusion from a Politico piece entitled, How testing failures allowed coronavirus to sweep the U.S. The subhead reads, The Trump administrations decision to forgo a World Health Organization test and create its own had fateful consequences, experts say.
The media ran with it. Of course.
Its not hidden but your administration rejected a test that wouldve helped find out where it was weeks ago for reasons you cant explain.
In other words, thats just the way it is done, the way it has long been done. Our CDCs coronavirus test formula has been distributed by WHO since January 28th.
Azar On Coronavirus: ‘immediate Risk To The American Public Remains Low’
However, one former Trump senior official said a czar and not a Cabinet secretary was needed to run the administration’s response. “It’s better to have one person who has the backing of the White House to coordinate,” the official said.
Veterans of the Ebola virus outbreak of six years ago also fear Azar is speaking too soon.
In 2014, as the U.S. government scrambled to respond to the Ebola outbreak, President Barack Obama appointed lawyer Ron Klain to lead the effort from the White House, supported by staff from the National Security Council.
Participants recall it as the most intense, most difficult thing the Obama White House ever took on. They said the NSC was the only power center that could harness and coordinate the many federal government agencies implicated, foreign and domestic.
“The Ebola response in the Obama National Security Council was the most frenetic, the most tireless operation that I was a part of, and I was there for the counter-ISIS campaign and the Iran nuclear deal,” Ned Price, a former CIA officer and an Obama White House staffer, said.
“A pandemic is inevitable the remaining question is how severe will it be.”
“The NSC is the only place at the fulcrum of foreign policy where you can also pull the levers of domestic policy. … What we found was that there was a degree of running in circles until the White House National Security Council staff began directing the effort.”
Major challenges loom, public health experts say.
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Media Hoaxes: No Trump Did Not Disband Wh Pandemic Office Cut Cdc Work From 49 To 10 Countries Or Refuse Who Testing Kits
Its absolutely stunning to see Democrats and the media continue to attack President Trump with a range of outright lies in the midst of a global pandemic.
Its almost as if they arent worried about Wuhan coronavirus at all and instead see it as an opportunity to fulfill their dream of ousting our duly elected president from office. Never let a crisis go to waste being the mantra of the power-hungry left, after all.
Ive previously covered two media hoaxes: one, involving Democrats and the media incorrectly stating that Trump called the coronavirus a hoax and the second involving the inaccurate media speculationpublished as newsthat the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Anthony Fauci, was muzzled by the Trump administration.
I could make a full-time job out of covering every one of the Democrat media hoaxes involving the president, but that not being in the offing, I am focusing on three of the latest and more onerous examples.
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Budgets are like the first move in a chess game with, Ill be honest, a fairly profligate Congress, Azar said. And the president starts that move with a budget knowing that were going to get a lot higher there as we work with Congress.
As health officials gear up to confront a potential outbreak, the administration is asking Congress to authorize an additional $2.5 billion in supplemental funding for 2020 aimed at accelerating vaccine development and other containment measures. Senate Democratic leader Chuck Schumer has suggested that figure is not sufficient, and Congress should allocate an additional $8.5 billion for fighting coronavirus.
But its not just the presidents budget proposals that are under the microscope as fears of a new coronavirus outbreak mount. Bloomberg also took aim at Trump for eliminating a position from the National Security Council responsible for coordinating administration efforts to combat infectious disease.
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Four Ways Trump Has Meddled In Pandemic Science And Why It Matters
Trump and his administration have sidelined scientists like Anthony Fauci throughout the pandemic when the scientists’ messaging did not align with political agendas.Credit: Jabin Botsford/The Washington Post/Getty
As the United States votes today on who will be its next president, Donald Trumps response to the COVID-19 pandemic looms large. One issue that resonates with the research community is the extent to which the current president and his administration have meddled with science and scientific advice during the pandemic often with disastrous results.
Last month, a coronavirus-crisis sub-committee within the US House of Representatives released a report documenting 47 instances in which government scientists had been sidelined or their recommendations altered. And the report notes that the frequency of meddling has been increasing in the lead-up to the US election.
Its hard to express how unbelievably demoralizing this experience has been, says Diana Zuckerman, president of the National Center for Health Research, a non-profit organization in Washington DC.
If Trump wins a second term, researchers fear what that could mean for public health and the scientific enterprise. If Democratic challenger and former vice-president Joe Biden wins, hell have his work cut out for him to restore the reputation of the US science agencies that Trump has damaged.
Who Launches Independent Review Of The International Response To The Covid
Even the Association of State and Territorial Health Officials, which represents state health departments, wont always advocate for increased CDC funding because so many state health departments are overseen by Republican governors who oppose increasing taxes, Frieden said, adding that ASTHO is still a very good association. .
Michael Fraser, the executive director of ASTHO, acknowledged the limits of what his organization can do to boost the CDC.
Just in terms of money and influence, we are very different from the NIH that has universities and deans, FDA which has industry and consumers, Fraser said. Public health has had a much smaller advocacy voice.
Public health groups have been complaining for years over the CDCs chronic underfunding. A 2019 report from Trust for Americas Health found that the CDCs budget fell by 10 percent over the last decade, when adjusted for inflation.
The Trump administration has also proposed massive cuts to the CDCs budget, although Congress has rejected those requests. The administrations 2021 budget proposed cutting $1.2 billion from the CDCs budget and roughly the same amount in 2020.
CDC scientists used to say to me, Isnt it great we are in Atlanta? We dont have to get bugged by the folks in Washington all the time. But wow, why is our budget so low?
Tom Frieden, former CDC director
Many told STAT they see the CDCs ability to ignore politics in favor of science as an achievement, not a fault.
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More: Growth Of New Coronavirus Fuels Questions Over Definition Of Pandemic
Earlier this month, Sen. Dianne Feinstein, D-Calif., sent a letter to the head of USAID asking him to reinstate the program in light of the spread of coronavirus.
The current deadly viral outbreak and its quick appearance in the United States make clear that PREDICTs contributions to zoonotic disease surveillance and forecasting must continue, she wrote. We simply cannot afford to go backwards and jeopardize the success weve seen over the last ten years.
The president has defended his administrations response and preparedness efforts as incredible. On Wednesday, he tapped Vice President Mike Pence to lead a coronavirus task force formed late last month that was being led by Azar. Other members of the task force include NSA OBrien, CDC Director Robert Redfield, and National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Anthony Fauci.
Trump Administration Strips Cdc Of Control Of Coronavirus Data
Hospitals have been ordered to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all patient information to a central database in Washington, raising questions about transparency.
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WASHINGTON The Trump administration has ordered hospitals to bypass the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and send all Covid-19 patient information to a central database in Washington beginning on Wednesday. The move has alarmed health experts who fear the data will be politicized or withheld from the public.
The new instructions were posted recently in a little-noticed document on the Department of Health and Human Services website. From now on, the department not the C.D.C. will collect daily reports about the patients that each hospital is treating, the number of available beds and ventilators, and other information vital to tracking the pandemic.
Historically, C.D.C. has been the place where public health data has been sent, and this raises questions about not just access for researchers but access for reporters, access for the public to try to better understand what is happening with the outbreak,” said Jen Kates, the director of global health and H.I.V. policy with the nonpartisan Kaiser Family Foundation.
Similar complaints about coronavirus data have bubbled up around the country.
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