Epilogue: Too Many Missteps Too Many Deaths
As it unfolded, the U.S. response to COVID-19 became simply another symptom of the nations polarization.
Trump has defended the actions his administration took, especially the travel restrictions, saying the measures saved an ever-shifting number of lives.
Others speak not of lives saved, but those lost due to delays and missteps.
It has to be in the tens of thousands, said Lurie at the Coalition for Epidemic Preparedness Innovations.
She pointed to reporting by the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation, which has produced estimates of the lives that could be saved simply through consistent mask-wearing.
The institute, an independent research center that is part of the University of Washington, projects that by Feb. 1, 2021, the U.S. death toll from COVID-19 will have reached 395,000. Projections by the institute’s model range from 374,000 deaths to 421,000.
But the institute also struck a note of hope:
Its model projects 79,000 American lives can be saved by Feb. 1 by increasing mask use from the current estimate of 70% to 95%.
While 95% mask use may seem unprecedented, it isn’t. It’s the same level achieved by the nation of Singapore.
Singapore, which has 5.8 million people, roughly the same as the state of Wisconsin, has reported 27 deaths from COVID-19.
Eric Litke from the Journal Sentinel and Brett Murphy from USA Today contributed to this report.
Oversight Of The Trump Administrations Response To The Covid
- Commissioner of Food and Drugs – Food and Drug Administration
- Before the
Robert R. Redfield, M.D., Director, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention
Anthony S. Fauci, M.D., Director, National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, National Institutes of Health
Admiral Brett P. Giroir, M.D., Assistant Secretary for Health, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services
Stephen M. Hahn, M.D., Commissioner of Food and Drugs, U.S. Food and Drug Administration
Censoring Undermining And Attacking Leading Government Scientists
The Trump administration has repeatedly censored and attacked preeminent government scientists, whose research and analysis would normally be leading the national response to a public health crisis like Covid-19.
The administration has implemented new policies to block government scientists from communicating with the public. For instance, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention stopped holding media briefings and instituted a restrictive media policy for agency scientists receiving inquiries for information about Covid-19 even though these scientists have traditionally been allowed to speak to the press. The Trump administration also prevented National Institute for Allergy and Infectious Diseases Director Dr. Anthony Fauci and other senior health officials from communicating with the public, instead requiring that all communications be controlled by Vice President Mike Pence . A top political aide at the Department of Health and Human Services instructed Dr. Faucis press team that Fauci was to refrain from advising that children wear masks. The White House also prevented Fauci from testifying before the House of Representatives, because the chamber was full of Trump haters. He blocked other experts from testifying before Congress at all, including the CDC director, who was invited to testify about how to reopen schools safely.
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Promoting And Spending Government Resources On Unproven Treatments Against Expert Advice
President Trumps promotion of the antimalarial drugs chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine as Covid-19 treatments, despite scientific studies showing their ineffectiveness, has extended to federal agencies spending money on and officially recommending the drugs.
The president pressured government officials to push for use of the drugs as treatment. Dr. Rick Bright, an expert at the Department of Health and Human Services, was reassigned after he objected to the use of hydroxychloroquine to treat Covid-19 patients without first testing its effectiveness. The Department of Veterans Affairs purchased $208,000 worth of hydroxychloroquine to treat veterans, despite VA hospital data showing that veterans treated with the drug died at a 17 percent higher rate than others. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued guidance promoting the prescription of hydroxychloroquine, citing only anecdotal evidence. The CDC later removed the guidance, while the Food and Drug Administration withdrew its emergency authorization for use of the drug to treat Covid-19, based on studies showing that hydroxychloroquine does not improve health outcomes. Political officials at the Department of Health and Human Services delayed the publication of a subsequent CDC report showing the ineffectiveness of hydroxychloroquine.
Ly False Claim: Trump Fired Entire Pandemic Response Team In 2018
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Correction: the headline of this fact-check earlier read Trump fired pandemic response team in 2018, it has been amended to Trump fired entire pandemic response team in 2018
Numerous posts and images circulated on social media make the claim that President Donald Trump fired the “entire pandemic response team” in 2018, .
This claim comes amid an escalating coronavirus outbreak that as of March 24, 2020 has infected over 372,000 people and left over 16,000 dead worldwide, .
The Global Health Security and Biodefense unit responsible for pandemic preparedness was established in 2015 by Barack Obamas National Security Advisor, Susan Rice . The unit resided under the National Security Council a forum of White House personnel that advises the president on national security and foreign policy matters.
In May 2018, the team was disbanded and its head Timothy Ziemer, top White House official in the NSC for leading U.S. response against a pandemic, left the Trump administration, the Washington Post reported . Some members of the global health and security team were merged into other units within the NSC, the article said.
The reorganization followed John Boltons appointment as national security advisor, and the departure of Tom Bossert, the homeland security advisor who the Post wrote had called for a comprehensive biodefense strategy against pandemics and biological attacks.
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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.
Canceling Scientific Research Grant Citing Racist Conspiracy Theory
The National Institutes of Health canceled a longstanding grant to a New York health research organization studying coronaviruses in partnership with the Wuhan Institute of Virology. The decision came after President Trump said, We will end that grant very quickly in a press conference.
President Trump has repeatedly claimed without evidence that the novel coronavirus was created or released by the Wuhan Institute of Virology. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo and other senior administration officials have repeated the presidents claim, also without evidence and despite contrary statements by the director of national intelligence, Dr. Anthony Fauci, and the World Health Organization.
President Trumps attempts to blame China for the Covid-19 pandemic, which include referring to the disease as kung flu and blocking a Group of Seven statement that did not refer to the virus as the Wuhan virus, have stoked racial animus against Asian Americans. Monitors have recorded a surge of racist attacks and hate crimes targeting Asian Americans.
Seventy-seven U.S. Nobel laureates and a wide range of professional scientific societies have condemned the Trump administrations decision to cancel the coronavirus research grant and called for a review.
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Claim No : The Trump Administration Cut Funding To Anti
Following criticism surrounding the United States response to the novel coronavirus COVID-19 pandemic, President Donald Trump came under fire for allegedly firing the United States of Americas pandemic response team.
The claim was populated by Popular Informations Judd Legum, who tweeted that Trump fired the entire pandemic response team before failing to replace them. The tweet, accompanied by a chart illustrating the increasing statewide presence of coronavirus COVID-19, continued by claiming Trump went so far as to eliminate the positions.
But how much of Legums tweet is true?
In 2018, then-Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biothreats Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer abruptly departed the National Security Council. In an attempt to reorganize for the sake of streamlining, John Bolton abolished Ziemers abandoned position and dissolved his team.
One month earlier, Homeland Security adviser Tom Bossert, who the Washington Post reported called for a comprehensive biodefense strategy against pandemics and biological attacks, resigned from his position as Bolton prepared to assume power. However, NBC News later reported that Bossert was fired.
Former Senior Director for Global Health Security and Biodefense in NSC Beth Cameron indirectly reinforced Legums stance.
In an op-ed for the Washington Post, Cameron wrote that the White House dissolved the office, subsequently leaving the United States underprepared for the emergence of a pandemic.
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.
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Obama Team Left Pandemic Playbook For Trump Administration Officials Confirm
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell alleged that the Obama administration did not provide the Trump administration with any information about the threat of a possible pandemic during a May 11 Team Trump Facebook Live discussion with Lara Trump.
They claim pandemics only happen once every 100 years, but what if that is no longer true? We want to be ready, early, for the next one. Because clearly, the Obama administration did not leave any kind of game plan for something like this, said McConnell.
This claim caught our attention because its definitive nature was directly at odds with the position of some former Obama administration officials, who immediately disputed it and started circulating on social media the link to such a plan.
We reached out to McConnells press team to ask for the basis of his statement. McConnells spokesperson David Popp said in an emailed response that this is a unique crisis and we are all adapting to the public health and economic challenges. In terms of the pandemics economic impact, he said there was definitely no playbook there and instead credited McConnell with his work on the CARES Act, a coronavirus relief bill passed by Congress.
The Pandemic Playbook
Nicole Lurie, another Obama administration official, confirmed to us the existence of the NSC pandemic playbook and also said similar documents were created for the Department of Health and Human Services and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
Dems Misconstrue Trump Budget Remarks
After President Donald Trump said, I dont know anything about the disbanding of a White House pandemic response office, the Democrats claimed that he lied and pointed to Trumps earlier remarks about some of the people we cut as evidence. But those remarks were in response to a question about proposed budget cuts not the anti-pandemic team in question.
Several Democrats have criticized the Trump administrations response to the coronavirus outbreak by pointing to the dissolving of a team within the White Houses National Security Council dedicated to coordinating a response to a pandemic. As weve written before, in 2018, the administration did eliminate a key position that would have been involved in such a response the senior director of the NSCs Office of Global Health Security and Biodefense. But that doesnt mean the responsibilities of that office were eliminated.
Administration officials have described a reorganization or streamlining of the NSC. An NSC spokesman told the Washington Post in May 2018 that the administration will continue to address these issues with the same resolve under the new structure.
Some still have been critical of the elimination of the post or a separate global health team. For instance, the Center for Strategic & International Studies recommended in a November 2019 report restoring the position on the NSC as one of seven key changes to better protect the American public from global health threats.
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Favoring Political Allies With National Guard Funding
Although most states are facing severe budget crunches as a result of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Trump administration announced that they would have to begin covering 25 percent of the cost of deploying National Guard troops to fight the coronavirus with the exception of two states governed by the presidents allies, Texas and Florida. States like Arizona and California, whose outbreaks were no less severe, were not exempted. The administration did not provide an explanation for this decision beyond that the Texas and Florida governors had made special, direct cases to the President.
Following criticism, the administration announced that Arizona, California, and Connecticut would also see their National Guard deployments completely funded by the federal government. However, unlike Texas and Florida, whose costs are covered through the end of 2020, Arizona, California, and Connecticut will have to begin paying a share of their costs in October.
Ordering A Promotional $300 Million Ad Campaign For The President Using Public Health Funds
In the lead-up to the 2020 general election, the Department of Health and Human Services planned a $300 million taxpayer-funded ad campaign about Covid-19 with a theme pitched internally as Helping the President will Help the Country. Normally, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention would lead such a campaign, but CDC director Robert Redfield testified at a Senate hearing that the agency has not had any involvement in the coronavirus campaign other than funding it. Instead, former HHS spokesperson Michael Caputo organized the effort, claiming that the president demanded that Caputo personally lead the campaign. As documented above, Caputo a political operative who joined HHS in April 2020 with no background in science or medicine has a history of interfering with the CDCs Covid-19 reports and accusing CDC scientists of sedition and having a resistance unit to undermine the president.
To finance the campaign, Caputos team used $300 million of the one billion dollars in emergency funds that Congress had appropriated to the CDC in April. The campaign which is slated to showcase movie stars and music stars talking about the Trump administrations response to the pandemic has faced criticism for diverting resources away from pressing public health needs, such as manufacturing personal protective equipment, developing treatments, or increasing testing.
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