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Im a business person, I dont like having thousands of people around when you dont need them, he added.
The US president has come under fire in recent days for his decision to disband the National Security Council directorate at the White House responsible for planning the USs preparedness for future pandemics.
The unit had been established by the previous White House administration in 2014 after the outbreak of Ebola.
A former director of the unit, Dr Beth Cameron, used an op-ed in The Washington Post to say that it is clear that eliminating the office has contributed to the federal governments sluggish domestic response”.
In a press conference on Friday, Mr Trump denied knowing anything about the cuts in 2018 when questioned by Yamiche Alcindor, a reporter for PBS.
Two Decades Of Pandemic War Games Failed To Account For Donald Trump
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Like all pandemics, it started out small. A novel coronavirus emerged in Brazil, jumping from bats to pigs to farmers before making its way to a big city with an international airport. From there, infected travellers carried it to the United States, Portugal and China. Within 18 months, the coronavirus had spread around the world, 65 million people were dead and the global economy was in free fall.
This fictitious scenario, dubbed Event 201, played out in a New York City conference centre before a panel of academics, government officials and business leaders last October. Those in attendance were shaken which is what Ryan Morhard wanted. A biosecurity specialist at the World Economic Forum in Geneva, Switzerland, Morhard worried that world leaders werent taking the threat of a pandemic seriously enough. He wanted to force them to confront the potentially immense human and economic toll of a global outbreak. We called it Event 201 because were seeing up to 200 epidemic events per year, and we knew that, eventually, one would cause a pandemic, Morhard says.
The timing, and the choice of a coronavirus, proved prescient. Just two months later, China reported a mysterious pneumonia outbreak in the city of Wuhan the start of the COVID-19 pandemic that has so far killed around 650,000 people.
Trump Team Failed To Follow Nscs Pandemic Playbook
The 69-page document, finished in 2016, provided a step by step list of priorities which were then ignored by the administration.
03/25/2020 08:00 PM EDT
The Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk. But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government shouldve begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago.
Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care? the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?
Each section of this playbook includes specific questions that should be asked and decisions that should be made at multiple levels within the national security apparatus, the playbook urges, repeatedly advising officials to question the numbers on viral spread, ensure appropriate diagnostic capacity and check on the U.S. stockpile of emergency resources.
CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
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Was The White House Office For Global Pandemics Eliminated
The Obama-Biden Administration set up the White House National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense to prepare for future pandemics like covid-19. Donald Trump eliminated it and now were paying the price.
Former vice president Joe Biden, in a tweet, March 19
Several readers have written The Fact Checker, saying they were confused by dueling opinion articles that appeared in The Washington Post concerning the National Security Council office highlighted in Bidens tweet.
On March 13, The Post published an article by Beth Cameron, a former Obama administration official, titled I ran the White House pandemic office. Trump closed it. She argued that eliminating the office, which she headed from September 2016 to March 2017, has contributed to the federal governments sluggish domestic response to the coronavirus pandemic.
Three days later, The Post published an article by Tim Morrison, a former Trump administration official, titled No, the White House didnt dissolve its pandemic response office. I was there. He countered that office, which he oversaw for about a year starting in July 2018, was folded into another one to streamline a bloated organization and the combined directorate was stronger because related expertise could be commingled.
Can one office really make a difference? At a news conference on March 13, President Trump dismissed this as a nasty question. Lets explore.
Putting Federal Workers Health At Risk
The Trump administration has failed to protect the health of federal workers during the Covid-19 pandemic. Many federal workers have been ordered to come into work during the pandemic, in some cases to perform tasks that can be done from home. Federal workers have often had to work without protections that would allow them to practice social distancing in their work spaces. The government has also failed to provide them with information about hazard pay, teleworking practices, or health risks. The Office of Personnel Management the federal agency that manages the governments civilian workforce refused a request from Congress for a briefing about its Covid-19 response efforts. And while several federal agencies disclose the number of their employees who are infected, the Department of the Interior to do so. Additionally, the Department of Defense ordered commanders to stop publicly reporting Covid-19 cases at military bases. In September 2020, the EPA reopened a regional office despite failing to meet reopening criteria the agency had previously established, and a union representing Environmental Protection Agency employees filed an unfair labor practice charge after EPA leaders refused to bargain over key policies concerning work conditions.
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Trump Organization Seeking Benefits From Trump Administration And Foreign Governments
The presidents failure to divest from his business interests has created myriad ethical issues throughout his time in office, including in relation to the Covid-19 pandemic. As the hospitality industry struggles, the Trump Organization has sought relief from both the federal government and from the British and Irish governments the latter for employees wages at the companys golf courses overseas. In particular, the Trump Organization sought a break on rental payments for the Washington, DC Trump Hotel from the General Services Administration, the federal agency with which the Trump Organization has a lease for the hotel. This puts the federal agency in a bind: denying the request could invoke the ire of the president, who appoints its leader, while accommodating the request would raise concerns that the decision was motivated by the presidents financial interests.
President Trump has also demanded that Congress include money for a new downtown FBI headquarters in a coronavirus relief bill. By ensuring the FBI does not move to a suburban campus instead, the measure would protect the Trump Hotel from possible competition from a proposed new hotel on the site of the FBI building a longstanding concern of the president.
Personnel Leading The Response To Pandemic With Ties To Healthcare Industry
Several Trump administration officials managing the crisis have ongoing conflicts of interest. For example, the presidents vaccine chief, Dr. Moncef Slaoui, has ties to pharmaceutical interests. Dr. Slaoui is a contractor and therefore exempt from federal disclosure rules that could reveal his potential conflicts. Although Slaoui pledged to donate any increase in the value of his investments to the National Institutes of Health, his contract states he does not have to do so until after the deaths of both Dr. Slaoui and his wife. Other top advisers on the governments vaccine development project also hold stock in companies developing coronavirus treatments and vaccines that have received millions of dollars in government contracts.
Likewise, President Trumps son-in-law and White House adviser Jared Kushner has an investment in a health insurance company that the administration engaged to create a government website for coronavirus testing, raising potential legal issues. Additionally, the fact that the president and some of his personal associates and political donors have financial interests in the manufacture of the antimalarial drugs that the president has touted, despite a lack of evidence of their effectiveness in treating Covid-19, raises at least the appearance of conflicts of interest.
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May: Repeating The Mistakes Of Spanish Flu
The U.S. was poised to repeat a crucial mistake from the 1918-’19 Spanish flu pandemic.
A 2005 report, commissioned by the U.S. military and written by researchers at the University of Michigan, examined seven communities that had succeeded in keeping out the Spanish flu by closing off their populations.
Gunnison County in Colorado, for example, closed its borders on Oct. 31, 1918, for all but those willing to be placed in quarantine. During this period only two people came down with the flu. But the quarantine ended Feb. 5, and in little more than a month, county officials reported 140 cases of flu.
It is important to recall that the most successful protective sequestrations were maintained for a period of months to ensure that the pandemic was well on the wane, the University of Michigan researchers noted.
The study’s authors warned that Internecine rivalries or disagreements between local, state, and federal agencies have a strong potential to detract from pandemic influenza prevention and containment.
More broadly, this is one of the strongest themes in the history of epidemics and disasters in the United States over the past two centuries.
In the 2020 pandemic, the president announced in April plans for a phased reopening of states and assured governors it would be safe to do so on May 1. In the week leading up to that day, the country hit daily averages of 24,000 new infections and 1,600 deaths.
The chance to act quickly and avert disaster had passed.
Changing Data Reporting Procedures For Unclear Reasons And Without Transparency
The Trump administration has sought to sideline the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , which Trump has repeatedly clashed with during the pandemic, from its usual role in compiling national data on infectious diseases. This effort began in , when the government awarded a $10.2 million contract to TeleTracking Technologies to set up a coronavirus database housed at the Department of Health and Human Services .
The Trump administration first tried to use financial pressure to coerce hospitals to use the new system refusing to provide emergency medical funding to hospitals that didnt send Covid-19 admissions and intensive care data to the TeleTracking database. The threat to withhold funding came at a time when hospitals faced both increased admissions and due to the pandemic.
When Senate Democrats demanded information on the TeleTracking contract and the policy change, TeleTracking refused to discuss the deal owing to a nondisclosure agreement with the Trump administration a serious departure from normal practices of transparency surrounding federal contracts. Michael Caputo, a top political staffer at the Department of Health and Human Services , also sought to punish CDC communications workers who allowed a CDC epidemiologist to speak with the press about the decision to have a private contractor assume responsibility for data collection that the CDC has long held.
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Pandemic Office Created After Ebola Epidemic
Whether the office was disbanded or streamlined, there’s no question a number of top-notch global health experts left the administration in the wake of Bolton’s decision. At the top of that list: Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, who had been Trump’s senior director for global health security and biodefense at the National Security Council. Before that, Ziemer led a global anti-malaria initiative in the George W. Bush administration.
President Barack Obama created the pandemic preparedness office at the National Security Council in 2016, after his administration was criticized for its initial response to the Ebola epidemic in 2014 and 2015.
Republican lawmakers blasted Obama for refusing to impose travel bans and quarantines. When two American nurses contracted Ebola in 2014 while caring for an infected patient, some GOP lawmakers called on Obama to designate a czar or oversee the response.
Id like to know whos in charge, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., said at the time. Obama eventually tapped Ron Klain, who had served as chief of staff to two Democratic vice presidents, to lead the Ebola response.
As the outbreak in West Africa subsided in 2015 and he prepared to leave, Klain pressed Obama to set up a permanent directorate within the National Security Council to coordinate pandemic preparedness and response across the federal government.
Obama took Klain’s advice and created the unit to prepare for future disease outbreaks and prevent them from mushrooming into pandemics.
The Claim: President Trump Fired The ‘entire’ Pandemic Response Team In 2018
From nearly the start of the coronavirus pandemic, critics, in particular, have pointed out that President Donald Trump dismantled the very team that should’ve been preparing for an outbreak.
“In 2018 Trump fired the ENTIRE pandemic response team,” one recent social media post reads. “Keep re-posting this until the election.”
The user behind the post did not respond to a request for comment from USA TODAY.
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Favoritism And Political Bias In Awarding Small Business Loans
Small business loan programs implemented by the Trump administration have prioritized funding large corporations, including some with ties to President Trump and other administration officials, over smaller businesses with immediate needs. In March 2020, Congress passed the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act , which included the Paycheck Protection Program , intended to give small businesses loans to protect jobs. In its implementation of the program, the Trump administration has stretched the language of the CARES Act to provide financial support to large businesses such as oil and gas firms including businesses with ties to the Trump administration.
Even as large businesses with ties to the Trump administration have received support, the administration has denied funding to many small businesses particularly those owned by women and people of color. One study found that Black applicants faced discrimination when applying for PPP loans. Another found that small businesses in majority-Black ZIP codes had to wait much longer than similar businesses in majority-white areas to receive funding. Additionally, in keeping with the president’s past hostility towards clean energy initiatives, the administration has left $43 billion in low-interest loans intended for clean energy products completely untouched.