“On February 7, the WHO warned about the limited stock of PPE. That same day, the Trump administration announced it was sending 18 tons of masks, gowns and respirators to China.”
**************How the Trump administration has stood in the way of PPE distributionStates are competing for supplies, and manufacturers aren’t sure who to ship PPE to first.
By Terry Nguyen Apr 4, 2020
, 2:10pm EDT
"For weeks, state legislators and health care providers across the country have called on the Trump administration to help with the lack of personal protective equipment (PPE) available to fight the coronavirus pandemic. The Trump administration has meanwhile argued it is the states’ responsibility to procure PPE, a stance that has led states to compete with one another for supplies — and that has led to confusion on the part of suppliers.
Since March, US hospitals have faced shortages as the disease became widespread: Health care workers say they’re rapidly running out of masks, gowns, gloves, ventilators, and other protective supplies to treat Covid-19 patients, some of which are necessary to protect doctors, nurses, and providers on the front lines.
Some workers are wearing bandanas and scarves as an alternative to masks, fashioning gowns from trash bags, and rationing or even reusing medical equipment. The federal emergency stockpile is nearly depleted and “the supply chain for PPE worldwide has broken down,” a DHS official told the Washington Post. The situation is dire, and states, especially those with increasing numbers of coronavirus cases, are desperate for supplies. However, the federal distribution of supplies has occurred unevenly and several actions taken by the Trump administration will likely make it harder for hospitals to get the PPE and ventilators they need in the weeks to come.There’s not enough PPE in the federal stockpile. States are forced to compete for supplies.
After President Donald Trump declared the coronavirus a national emergency in March, he instructed governors to order their own ventilators and other PPE, saying the federal government is “not a shipping clerk.” Trump added the administration will “help out wherever we can,” but state leaders say that current efforts aren’t enough — and that the Trump administration’s refusal to coordinate PPE distribution has forced them to compete with one another for supplies.“It’s like being on eBay with 50 other states, bidding on a ventilator,” said New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo in a press briefing on March 31.
“We the states are trying to actively get every piece of PPE that we can. We’re bidding against one another, and in some cases, the federal government is taking priority,” Michigan Gov. Gretchen Whitmer said on CNN’s State of the Union.A number of governors — including Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker — have said they’ve seen orders for masks and other needed equipment canceled because the federal government outbid them.
This has led to some finding creative ways to disguise their orders to mask them from the Trump administration.
Baker’s administration worked with Patriots owner Robert Kraft, the Chinese UN ambassador, and other Chinese officials to secure a shipment of 1.2 million face masks to the state. The governor told reporters Thursday he worked with the Kraft family to create a “‘private humanitarian mission’ to keep the Feds from finding out” about the mask shipment and seizing it, according to reporter Adam Gaffin — and the masks came to the state on the Patriots’ team plane..."
*************White House looks at cutting Covid funds, newborn screenings in ‘anarchist’ citiesDocuments show funding for a host of health programs is at risk under the president’s order targeting liberal strongholds.
By BRIANNA EHLEY and RACHEL ROUBEIN10/20/202
0 07:42 PM EDT
The White House is considering slashing millions of dollars for coronavirus relief, HIV treatment, screenings for newborns and other programs in Democratic-led cities that President Donald Trump has deemed “anarchist jurisdictions,” according to documents obtained by POLITICO.
New York, Portland, Ore., Washington, D.C., and Seattle could lose funding for a wide swath of programs that serve their poorest, sickest residents after the president moved last month to restrict funding, escalating his political battle against liberal cities he’s sought to use as a campaign foil.
The Department of Health and Human Services has identified federal grants covering those services, which are among the nearly 200 health programs that could be in line for cuts as part of a sweeping government-wide directive the administration is advancing during the final weeks of the presidential campaign and amid an intensifying pandemic Trump has downplayed.
Trump in a Sept. 2 order called on federal agencies to curtail funding to jurisdictions that “disempower” police departments and promote “lawlessness.” The memo argued that the cities haven’t done enough to quash riots stemming from this summer’s protests over systemic racism and police violence.
The HHS list offers the most detailed picture yet of the administration’s efforts to quickly comply with the Trump directive and the potentially large cuts facing these cities even as the pandemic strains local budgets. It isn’t immediately clear what criteria the budget office will use to evaluate the grants — or how or when cuts may be made.
But while the White House pores over existing funds, at least one department has already moved to implement Trump’s directive for new funding. The Department of Transportation earlier this month said Trump’s “anarchy” memo would factor into the department’s review of applications for a new $10 million grant program supporting Covid-19 safety measures.
"My Administration will do everything in its power to prevent weak mayors and lawless cities from taking Federal dollars while they let anarchists harm people, burn buildings, and ruin lives and businesses,” Trump tweeted shortly after releasing the Sept. 2 defunding memo.
Almost three weeks later, Attorney General William Barr labeled New York City, Portland and Seattle as “anarchist jurisdictions.” The White House budget office also instructed departments to also scrutinize funding for Washington, D.C.
The HHS list, which was sent Friday to the White House budget office, represents the 1,500-plus funding awards that have gone to the four cities since 2018. Each federal department also faced a Friday deadline to submit their own lists to the Office of Management and Budget, which will make the final decisions about funding.
HHS compiled the list with input from at least 12 agencies it oversees. The list includes 185 programs that touch on everything from Trump’s own initiative to end HIV transmission by the end of the decade to the opioid crisis and research into lung diseases. The list also includes funding for other programs, like $423,000 for universal hearing screenings for newborns in the District of Columbia, housing for people in addiction recovery in Seattle, and services providing nutrition and mental health counseling to elderly New Yorkers.
A spokesperson for HHS declined to comment. OMB declined to comment on the details of the review while pointing to two agency memos issued last month.
The White House budget office has previously said the administration will use the data to determine whether to bar cities from being eligible for new federal cash. A senior administration official did not rule out the possibility that cities could lose their existing funds.
“As the data comes in, OMB will collect it and make a decision,” said the official, who requested anonymity. The review is in the preliminary stages, and the official said the administration will make decisions about each grant individually.
“We need to review the information with agencies before we know,” according to the official. “Grant programs all have different authorities so it’s going to be case by case.”
According to OMB’s own guidelines, just a small fraction of the grants flagged by HHS may be protected from cuts. A Sept. 21 memo from OMB Director Russ Vought instructed agencies to assess whether grants supported law enforcement activities, indicating those would be less vulnerable to elimination. “[S]uch programs and activities, when properly designed and implemented, can help prevent the deterioration of municipalities into lawless zones,” Vought wrote.
HHS identified that just six of the 185 grant programs directly or indirectly have a connection to law enforcement, including some public health measures, hospital emergency preparedness and child support enforcement.
Programs that don’t meet the law enforcement exception include a two-year $4.6 million grant to D.C.’s Department of Health Care Finance that funds addiction treatment and recovery services through next September. Another includes $850,000 through 2025 to King County, which includes Seattle, to support the HIV initiative Trump announced at his State of the Union address last year.
A $1.8 million grant for Oregon’s Multnomah County, which includes Portland, and a $880,000 grant to King County, both to help community and migrant health centers care for Covid-19 patients, are also under review.
Public health advocates and city officials panned the administration's review, warning that the consequences of pulling funding from these cities — especially during the pandemic — could be dire.
“The bottom line is there's no extra money lying around, and this is not a time to be playing politics with people’s health,” said Chrissie Juliano, executive director of the Big Cities Health Coalition, a national group that represents health departments in major U.S. cities — including the four targeted by Trump.
Officials from New York City and Seattle — as well as the United States Conference of Mayors — have already threatened legal action if the administration moves to block funds.
“This is nothing more than political retribution,” said Laura Feyer, a spokesperson for New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio.
Caitlin Emma contributed to this report.
**************Trump admitted he deliberately played down coronavirus threat: ReportsHe called Bob Woodward's book, for which he gave interviews, a "hit job."
By Ben GittlesonSeptember 9, 2020
, 3:53 PM
***************Downplayed? He refused to acknowledge the severity of the virus; he refused to wear a mask; he held several superspreader rallies; he called the virus a "Democrat hoax".
**************Trump’s Disregard for Blue States Is at the Heart of His Shoddy COVID ResponseJuly 31, 2020
As the pandemic swept through largely Democratic-voting states like New York, Massachusetts, and New Jersey this spring, the early response from the Trump administration was defined by a catastrophic mix of ambivalence and incompetence. “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” President Trump said on a March 16 conference call with the nation’s governors, abdicating federal responsibility and sparking a bidding war among the states for limited hospital supplies. At least one auction was sent into further chaos when the federal government outbid states on the contracts.
But the Trump administration’s disregard for the massive loss of life was not equal: According to a Washington Post report from March 28, hard-hit, Democratic-leaning states like Massachusetts received only 17 percent of the protective gear requested from the national stockpile, while GOP-led Florida promptly received supplies it needed, despite a controlled outbreak at the time.
Four months later, with the American death toll north of 150,000, a report from Vanity Fair details the callous political motivations behind the Trump administration’s early failure to roll out a national pandemic response. As with many recent policy calamities, it begins with White House senior adviser Jared Kushner.
After Trump replaced the White House pandemic response team with an assortment of unqualified private interests — including the president’s son-in-law’s college roommate — Kushner’s bunch reportedly developed an underwhelming proposal: “The plan would have set up a system of national oversight and coordination to surge supplies, allocate test kits, lift regulatory and contractual roadblocks, and establish a widespread virus surveillance system by the fall, to help pinpoint subsequent outbreaks.”
Starting mass testing in the fall would be about six months too late, but we never even got there; the policy was abandoned in April as the president with a “natural instinct for science” renewed his COVID-19 misinformation campaign. Per Vanity Fair:
Trusting his vaunted political instincts, President Trump had been downplaying concerns about the virus and spreading misinformation about it—efforts that were soon amplified by Republican elected officials and right-wing media figures. Worried about the stock market and his reelection prospects, Trump also feared that more testing would only lead to higher case counts and more bad publicity. Meanwhile, Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus response coordinator, was reportedly sharing models with senior staff that optimistically—and erroneously, it would turn out—predicted the virus would soon fade away.
Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.
That logic may have swayed Kushner. “It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,” the expert said.
The idea that the Trump White House abandoned a national testing strategy because New Yorkers, not Texans, were dying by the thousands is obviously appalling. And on top of that, even the “successes” of Kushner’s program were troublesome: The 1 million Chinese-made diagnostic tests that the task force procured on March 31 through an intermediary in the United Arab Emirates were faulty. After some of the tests were distributed to the states by the Federal Emergency Management Agency, two separate government laboratories had determined that the batch costing taxpayers $52 million was “contaminated and unusable.” A Food and Drug Administration spokesperson added that they were improperly shipped from the UAE: “The reagents should be kept cold.”
Though Trump was willing to dream that the coronavirus would pass after it devastated Democratic states, his mindset reportedly changed when Republican-controlled states began to post record highs in daily testing. According to a senior administration official who spoke with the Washington Post in July, advisers to the president showed him data of COVID-19 spikes among “our people” in red states, as well as projections showing a potential spread to swing states like Michigan, Minnesota, and Wisconsin. According to the Post, the “new approach seemed to resonate” with the president, to some degree. He switched up his rhetoric at the start of his rebooted coronavirus briefings in mid-July, but he’s continued to spread the false idea that soaring infection rates in the U.S. are the result of more testing, and said publicly that he’s asked his team to “slow the testing down please.”
****************Now tell me again what Governor Cuomo did.