Exempting Medication Abortion From Regulatory Changes Without Health Rationale
The Food and Drug Administration refused to include medication abortion in regulatory changes introduced to respond to healthcare challenges posed by the pandemic, despite lacking a public health rationale for doing so.
In response to the Covid-19 pandemic, the FDA suspended enforcement of numerous rules, including waiving requirements for dispensing certain drugs to allow for virtual prescriptions and telemedicine. The FDA retained in-person dispensing requirements for 17 drugs, the majority of which can cause immediate adverse events . The FDA also included mifepristone, used for medication abortion care and the management of miscarriages, on this list, even though studies have found that mifepristone is safer than common drugs such as penicillin and Viagra that are much more widely available. Thus, patients needing the drug must continue to have in-person visits with their healthcare providers, which undermine social distancing guidelines and threaten the health of both patients and doctors. Researchers found that eliminating these medication abortion restrictions would result in over two million fewer clinical contacts during the 18-month period that the Covid-19 pandemic was expected to last.
In April 2021, the FDA announced it was waiving the requirement that medication abortion be dispensed in-person for the duration of the Covid-19 pandemic.footnote1_i50uyzb1The Brennan Center created this entry in collaboration with the EMAA Project.
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.
Evidence Shows Obama Team Left A Pandemic Game Plan For Trump Administration
When discussing pandemic preparedness and COVID-19, learly, the Obama administration did not leave any kind of game plan for something like this.
Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell during a May 11 Team Trump Facebook Live interview with Lara Trump
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.
This story was produced in partnership with PolitiFact.
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. McConnell 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
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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.
Exclusive: Us Slashed Cdc Staff Inside China Prior To Coronavirus Outbreak
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WASHINGTON – The Trump administration cut staff by more than two-thirds at a key U.S. public health agency operating inside China, as part of a larger rollback of U.S.-funded health and science experts on the ground there leading up to the coronavirus outbreak, Reuters has learned.
Most of the reductions were made at the Beijing office of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and occurred over the past two years, according to public CDC documents viewed by Reuters and interviews with four people familiar with the drawdown.
The Atlanta-based CDC, Americas preeminent disease fighting agency, provides public health assistance to nations around the world and works with them to help stop outbreaks of contagious diseases from spreading globally. It has worked in China for 30 years.
The CDCs China headcount has shrunk to around 14 staffers, down from approximately 47 people since President Donald Trump took office in January 2017, the documents show. The four people, who spoke on condition of anonymity, said the losses included epidemiologists and other health professionals.
The material reviewed by Reuters shows a breakdown of how many American and local Chinese employees were assigned there. The documents are the CDCs own descriptions of its headcount, which it posts online. Reuters was able to search past copies of the material to confirm the decline described by the four people.
Chinas embassy in Washington, D.C. declined to comment.
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Here’s Video Of Trump Trying To Explain Why He Cut The Pandemic Response Team
President Donald Trumpdismantled the National Security Councils pandemic response unit in 2018 a subject he claims to know nothing about now that the U.S. is being buffeted by the coronavirus pandemic.
Trump explicitly denied any responsibility for mishandling the COVID-19 crisis at a news conference on Friday, where he told PBS reporter Yamiche Alcindor he didnt know anything about his former national security advisers elimination of the White House global health security team.
Instead, he called Alcindors question nasty and moved on.
I just think its a nasty question, Trump said. When you say me, I didnt do it … You say we did that, I dont know anything about it.
He did do it. And theres video of him discussing his justification last month.
Im a business person, the president said in a Feb. 26 White House press briefing. I dont like having thousands of people around when you dont need them.
Some of the people weve cut they havent been used for many, many years, and if we ever need them we can get them very quickly and rather than spending the money.
The National Security Councils Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense was created under President Barack Obama after the 2014 Ebola outbreak, The New York Times pointed out. It included health and biodefense experts to coordinate the U.S. response to global health threats.
Dhs Wound Down Pandemic Models Before Coronavirus Struck
The document rested with NSC officials who dealt with medical preparedness and biodefense in the global health security directorate, which the Trump administration disbanded in 2018, four former officials said. The document was originally overseen by Beth Cameron, a former civil servant who led the directorate before leaving the White House in March 2017. Cameron confirmed to POLITICO that the directorate created a playbook for NSC staff intended to help officials confront a range of potential biological threats.
But under the Trump administration, it just sat as a document that people worked on that was thrown onto a shelf, said one former U.S. official, who served in both the Obama and Trump administrations. Its hard to tell how much senior leaders at agencies were even aware that this existed or thought it was just another layer of unnecessary bureaucracy.
The NSC playbook would have been especially useful in helping to drive the administrations response to coronavirus, given that it was intended to guide urgent decisions and coordinate the all-of-government approach that Trump so far has struggled to muster, said people familiar with the document.
CORONAVIRUS: WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW
President Donald Trump and Melania Trump have tested positive for Covid-19.
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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.
Vice Presidents Chief Of Staffs Finances Posing Conflicts Of Interest With Covid
The vice presidents chief of staff, Marc Short, owns up to $1.64 million worth of stock in companies whose work directly impacts the White Houses coronavirus response, according to a financial disclosure report certified by the Office of Government Ethics . Many of these companies produce drugs, medical supplies, and tests that are used or promoted by the White House.
Federal officials are required to divest from their financial holdings or recuse themselves from ethically compromising decisions. Short sought a certificate of divestiture from OGE, which would grant him a tax break upon divesting from the stock. However, OGE rejected his application for the tax break because Short might not be able to divest from all of the relevant stock, some of which is held in family trusts. Without the approval of the tax break, Short has refused to divest from any of the potentially conflicting stock. Moreover, rather than recusing himself, Short has been heavily involved in setting the agenda for the governments coronavirus response including by reportedly spearheading Jared Kushners shadow coronavirus task force. Short may be violating criminal conflict of interest law because he stands to gain financially from policy decisions in which he has participated.
Flouting Expert Guidance Leading To White House Coronavirus Outbreak
Disregarding public health guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention , the White House hosted what medical experts are calling a coronavirus super spreader event on September 26, 2020, to announce the nomination of Judge Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court. Over 200 people attended the densely packed event, where guests mingled indoors as well as outside, with few wearing masks or physically distancing from one another. According to a White House official, this is where President Trump, along with Senators Mike Lee and Thom Tillis and members of the military, may have become infected with the coronavirus. At least 34 White House staffers and other contacts have been infected, including members of the White House housekeeping staff, as well as White House reporters.
As public health experts have explained throughout the pandemic, contact tracing is essential to stopping the spread of the virus. However, for nearly a week after the president announced that he had contracted the virus, the White House refused to allow the CDC to perform contact tracing , even though the CDC has the federal governments most extensive resources to do so. In the absence of a systematic effort to trace or advise attendees of the White House event, many dispersed across the country, engaging in activities that risked spreading the virus, including visiting public gyms and touring manufacturing facilities.
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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Making False Statements About Covid
Throughout the pandemic, President Trump has made repeated false and unsupported statements about Covid-19, contradicting scientific research and the advice of government experts. His statements have caused confusion, sown distrust of government, and politicized commonsense public health measures, making it difficult to control the spread of the coronavirus and stabilize the economy.
As the first coronavirus cases were reported in the United States and top government health officials expressed concern that the virus would spread throughout the country for months, President Trump claimed that the number of infections would soon be down to close to zero and that the virus would disappear “like a miracle.” He has also falsely claimed that the mortality rate for Covid-19 is like that for the flu, that 99 percent of cases are totally harmless, and that the United States has one of the lowest mortality rates in the world. The Trump administration has encouraged state officials to disseminate false information. Vice President Mike Pence told governors to spread the presidents misleading claim that the uptick in coronavirus cases is due to an increase in testing.
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.
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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.
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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.