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Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response

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Floridatexan

Floridatexan

As it improvises its way through a public health crisis, the United States has never been less prepared for a pandemic.

BY LAURIE GARRETT | JANUARY 31, 2020, 11:07 AM

When Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, the director-general of the World Health Organization (WHO), declared the Wuhan coronavirus a public health emergency of international concern on Thursday, he praised China for taking “unprecedented” steps to control the deadly virus. “I have never seen for myself this kind of mobilization,” he noted. “China is actually setting a new standard for outbreak response.”


The epidemic control efforts unfolding today in China—including placing some 100 million citizens on lockdown, shutting down a national holiday, building enormous quarantine hospitals in days’ time, and ramping up 24-hour manufacturing of medical equipment—are indeed gargantuan. It’s impossible to watch them without wondering, “What would we do? How would my government respond if this virus spread across my country?”

For the United States, the answers are especially worrying because the government has intentionally rendered itself incapable. In 2018, the Trump administration fired the government’s entire pandemic response chain of command, including the White House management infrastructure. In numerous phone calls and emails with key agencies across the U.S. government, the only consistent response I encountered was distressed confusion. If the United States still has a clear chain of command for pandemic response, the White House urgently needs to clarify what it is—not just for the public but for the government itself, which largely finds itself in the dark.

When Ebola broke out in West Africa in 2014, President Barack Obama recognized that responding to the outbreak overseas, while also protecting Americans at home, involved multiple U.S. government departments and agencies, none of which were speaking to one another. Basically, the U.S. pandemic infrastructure was an enormous orchestra full of talented, egotistical players, each jockeying for solos and fame, refusing to rehearse, and demanding higher salaries—all without a conductor. To bring order and harmony to the chaos, rein in the agency egos, and create a coherent multiagency response overseas and on the homefront, Obama anointed a former vice presidential staffer, Ronald Klain, as a sort of “epidemic czar” inside the White House, clearly stipulated the roles and budgets of various agencies, and placed incident commanders in charge in each Ebola-hit country and inside the United States. The orchestra may have still had its off-key instruments, but it played the same tune.

Building on the Ebola experience, the Obama administration set up a permanent epidemic monitoring and command group inside the White House National Security Council (NSC) and another in the Department of Homeland Security (DHS)—both of which followed the scientific and public health leads of the National Institutes of Health (NIH) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and the diplomatic advice of the State Department.


On the domestic front, the real business of assuring public health and safety is a local matter, executed by state, county, and city departments that operate under a mosaic of laws and regulations that vary jurisdiction by jurisdiction. Some massive cities, such as New York City or Boston, have large budgets, clear regulations, and epidemic experiences that have left deep benches of medical and public health talent. But much of the United States is less fortunate on the local level, struggling with underfunded agencies, understaffing, and no genuine epidemic experience. Large and small, America’s localities rely in times of public health crisis on the federal government.

Bureaucracy matters. Without it, there’s nothing to coherently manage an alphabet soup of agencies housed in departments ranging from Defense to Commerce, Homeland Security to Health and Human Services (HHS).

But that’s all gone now.

In the spring of 2018, the White House pushed Congress to cut funding for Obama-era disease security programs, proposing to eliminate $252 million in previously committed resources for rebuilding health systems in Ebola-ravaged Liberia, Sierra Leone, and Guinea. Under fire from both sides of the aisle, President Donald Trump dropped the proposal to eliminate Ebola funds a month later. But other White House efforts included reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS. And the government’s $30 million Complex Crises Fund was eliminated.

In May 2018, Trump ordered the NSC’s entire global health security unit shut down, calling for reassignment of Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer and dissolution of his team inside the agency. The month before, then-White House National Security Advisor John Bolton pressured Ziemer’s DHS counterpart, Tom Bossert, to resign along with his team. Neither the NSC nor DHS epidemic teams have been replaced. The global health section of the CDC was so drastically cut in 2018 that much of its staff was laid off and the number of countries it was working in was reduced from 49 to merely 10. Meanwhile, throughout 2018, the U.S. Agency for International Development and its director, Mark Green, came repeatedly under fire from both the White House and Secretary of State Mike Pompeo. And though Congress has so far managed to block Trump administration plans to cut the U.S. Public Health Service Commissioned Corps by 40 percent, the disease-fighting cadres have steadily eroded as retiring officers go unreplaced.

Public health advocates have been ringing alarm bells to no avail.Public health advocates have been ringing alarm bells to no avail. Klain has been warning for two years that the United States was in grave danger should a pandemic emerge. In 2017 and 2018, the philanthropist billionaire Bill Gates met repeatedly with Bolton and his predecessor, H.R. McMaster, warning that ongoing cuts to the global health disease infrastructure would render the United States vulnerable to, as he put it, the “significant probability of a large and lethal modern-day pandemic occurring in our lifetimes.” And an independent, bipartisan panel formed by the Center for Strategic and International Studies concluded that lack of preparedness was so acute in the Trump administration that the “United States must either pay now and gain protection and security or wait for the next epidemic and pay a much greater price in human and economic costs.”

The next epidemic is now here; we’ll soon know the costs imposed by the Trump administration’s early negligence and present panic. On Jan. 29, Trump announced the creation of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force, an all-male group of a dozen advisors, five from the White House staff. Chaired by Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar, the task force includes men from the CDC, State Department, DHS, the Office of Management and Budget, and the Transportation Department. It’s not clear how this task force will function or when it will even convene.

In the absence of a formal structure, the government has resorted to improvisation. In practical terms, the U.S. government’s public health effort is led by Daniel Jernigan, the incident commander for the Wuhan coronavirus response at the CDC. Jernigan is responsible for convening meetings of the nation’s state health commissioners and briefing CDC Director Robert Redfield and his boss, Azar. Meanwhile, state-level health leaders told me that they have been sharing information with one another and deciding how best to prepare their medical and public health workers without waiting for instructions from federal leadership. The most important federal program for local medical worker and hospital epidemic training, however, will run out of money in May, as Congress has failed to vote on its funding. The HHS Office of the Assistant Secretary for Preparedness and Response (ASPR) is the bulwark between hospitals and health departments versus pandemic threats; last year HHS requested $2.58 billion, but Congress did not act.

On Thursday, the CDC confirmed the first human-to-human spread of the Wuhan coronavirus inside the United States, between a husband and wife in Chicago. While the wife acquired her infection traveling in China, she passed the virus to her husband on return to the United States. Though only six Wuhan coronavirus cases have been confirmed in the United States, with no deaths, Nancy Messonnier of the CDC told reporters on Thursday: “Moving forward, we can expect to see more cases, and more cases mean the potential for more person-to-person spread.”

As the number of coronavirus cases increases, Americans are growing more fearful, which is creating new problems that the government is leaving unaddressed. Surveying the largest drug store chains in New York City on Wednesday, I found that all were sold out of medical face masks and latex gloves, as is Amazon. Searching online for protective masks reveals that dozens of products intended for use to block dust and particles far larger than viruses are garnering brisk sales—and none available that can actually prevent viral exposure. The surge in mask and glove sales to worried citizens all over the world needs refereeing. Bona fide anti-viral masks should be prioritized to front-line medical and public health staff, and the populace shouldn’t be misled into purchasing and wearing products that offer no genuine protection.

Countering misinformation, conspiracy theories, rumormongering, and discriminatory behavior against people believed to be disease spreaders requires thoughtful communication from leadership at the highest levels of government. None is in evidence. Instead, Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross appeared on Fox Business on Thursday to fan the flames of fear for the sake of hypothetical business opportunities. “It does give businesses yet another thing to consider when they go through their review of their supply chain,” Ross said. “It’s another risk factor that people need to take into account. So, I think it will help accelerate the return of jobs to North America, some to the U.S., probably some to Mexico as well.” Meanwhile, Trump, asked at the recent World Economic Forum gathering in Davos, Switzerland how he intended to respond to the epidemic, said the situation was under control and a world away from the United States.

In a statement released this week, Pompeo sought to calm Americans, saying, “People should know that there are enormous efforts underway by the United States government to make sure that we do everything we can to protect the American people and to reduce the risk all around the globe.” But late Thursday night, the secretary—in clear defiance of WHO’s admonishment against restricting travel to and from China—issued an advisory saying, “Those currently in China should consider departing.”

In recent days, a handful of policy leaders have been shifted from government positions focused on weapons of mass destruction and bioterrorism to the slowly emerging epidemic response infrastructure, such as Matthew Pottinger, Philip Ferro, and David Wade on the NSC and the bioterrorism expert Anthony Ruggiero. It’s not at all clear how they would handle an explosion of coronavirus cases, were such a dreadful thing to occur in the United States. “The full weight of the US Government is working on this,” a senior administration official told CNN on Tuesday. “As with any interagency effort of this scale, the National Security Council works closely with the whole of government to ensure a coordinated and unified effort.”

The last time the U.S. government and its many local and state counterparts faced an explosive pandemic on American soil was 2009, with the spread of H1N1, or swine flu. The then-new Obama administration was still filling key positions across the executive branch when the epidemic emerged that spring, and it struggled to set the proper tone in reaction to what turned out to be an exceptionally contagious, but not unusually virulent, form of influenza. The challenge revealed enormous gaps in America’s ability to swiftly manufacture vaccines, stock-outs of face masks and vital hospital supplies, and serious difficulty in keeping ahead of outright lies, conspiracy theories, and rumormongering on cable TV and social media. The much more deadly pandemic test came in 1981, with the arrival of HIV: It did not go well, as history has well established, because homophobia was so pervasive in the country and within government that gay men, rather than the virus killing them, were treated as a national scourge.

Since the great influenza pandemic of 1918, the United States has been spared terrifying epidemics. Americans now are epidemic voyeurs. They watch YouTube videos of China’s struggles. They see the government attack its epidemic by building a 1,000-bed quarantine hospital in a single week, lock down cities larger than New York or Los Angeles, ramp up 24/7 manufacture of face masks and protective gear, deploy its armed forces medical corps to treat ailing citizens, send enormous convoys of food and supplies to anxious citizens of Wuhan, and release terrifying, growing tallies daily of its swelling patient populations. They look in horror at panicked lines of masked people waiting to learn if their fevers are caused by the deadly disease, at bodies lying on cold floors in overcrowded hospitals, and at people crying out from behind their masks for help. And they ask, “What would the United States do? What would the White House do?” The answers are not reassuring.


Laurie Garrett is a former senior fellow for global health at the Council on Foreign Relations and a Pulitzer Prize winning science writer.

https://foreignpolicy.com/2020/01/31/coronavirus-china-trump-united-states-public-health-emergency-response/

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Floridatexan

Floridatexan

Floridatexan

Floridatexan

New ad from Priorities USA:



Trump had a lawyer write a cease & desist letter... lol! lol! lol! lol! lol!

PkrBum

PkrBum
Exploring human suffering for political purposes. You're a piece of shit.

Telstar

Telstar
Floridatexan wrote:
New ad from Priorities USA:



Trump had a lawyer write a cease & desist letter... lol!  lol!  lol!  lol!  lol!




Only sick fools will forgive him or make excuses for him. Real Americans will never forgive or forget his hand in the death of their neighbors and loved ones. Twisted Evil

Wordslinger

Wordslinger
PkrBum wrote:Exploring human suffering for political purposes. You're a piece of shit.

See my comment on Trump refusing to allow covid19 supplies to be sent to Michigan because of his conflict with that State's governor.
Trump and all his supporters are pieces of shit. Including you.

othershoe1030

othershoe1030
https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/30/us/coronavirus-florida-covid-Howard-Browne-river-tampa-church.html


There is no bottom to Trump's stupidity. Not able to have rallies with his adoring fools, he substitutes the daily virus dog and pony show to give him his dose of public exposure, to show off his ignorance and keep his lying ability in top shape.

What a sorry excuse for a human being, much less a president.

On a slightly more positive note, this crises has exposed many short-comings in our over-all system: the linking of jobs and health insurance is one. Another problem was the disbanding of the government group responsible for planning, manning and supplying pandemics and other such global disasters. Some of that work used to be called "Civil Defense", back in the cold war days. Maybe some attention will be given to fixing these things once the Democrats get back in power. And, more than a few Trump supporters are changing their myopic devotion to him corrected by the total disaster we are living through.

I think we need some kind of national response already figured out that could be triggered more or less automatically in cases such as this. Of course, with Stupid in the WH everything is worse than it should have been. Fortunately, Governors and even mayors all across the country have the ability (and do) to call for stay-at-home orders without waiting for permission from Washington.

Hope you are all staying safe and practicing social distancing and the rest of it. I am not in New Orleans, thank goodness, but it is reported that many from that area are migrating to their second homes along the Gulf Coast. My husband and I went to several Mardi gras parades and spent time on Fat Tuesday at parades and even took a six block walk down Bourbon Street, where we never usually go, just to be in the crowds. We had no ill effects from that, thankfully.

Well, just wanted to blow off a little steam. Living in the midst of a dystopian movie is not easy!

zsomething


Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:Exploring human suffering for political purposes. You're a piece of shit.

See my comment on Trump refusing to allow covid19 supplies to be sent to Michigan because of his conflict with that State's governor.  
Trump and all his supporters are pieces of shit.  Including you.

The irony of Pkr calling anyone else a piece of shit is incredible. He's honestly one of the most worthless scraps of trash I've ever encountered. He exploits everything for politics, and when he can't find anything true, he makes shit up. He'd happily let disinformation be spread and have millions of people die just to keep defending a president he "doesn't even like" and "piss off the libs."

Just absolute scum. I really, honestly feel sorry for anyone who has anyone like him in their life. It must be a burden. It's bad enough to have encountered him online where he can be blocked and disregarded. He's just an abusive piece of crap who whines whenever he gets treated in the way he's earned. Just disgusting.

RealLindaL


othershoe1030 wrote:
And, more than a few Trump supporters are changing their myopic devotion to him corrected by the total disaster we are living through.

I'm latching onto your statement as though it were a lifesaving ring thrown into this pool of despair.

But what evidence?  And how many is "more than a few"?  Any reliable polls/stats?  All I see are indications of Trump's solid, if not increasing, approval ratings, which is absolutely horrifying. (Uh-oh, I'm drowning again.)

PkrBum

PkrBum
zsomething wrote:
Wordslinger wrote:
PkrBum wrote:Exploring human suffering for political purposes. You're a piece of shit.

See my comment on Trump refusing to allow covid19 supplies to be sent to Michigan because of his conflict with that State's governor.  
Trump and all his supporters are pieces of shit.  Including you.

The irony of Pkr calling anyone else a piece of shit is incredible.   He's honestly one of the most worthless scraps of trash I've ever encountered.  He exploits everything for politics, and when he can't find anything true, he makes shit up.  He'd happily let disinformation be spread and have millions of people die just to keep defending a president he "doesn't even like" and "piss off the libs."  

Just absolute scum.  I really, honestly feel sorry for anyone who has anyone like him in their life.   It must be a burden.  It's bad enough to have encountered him online where he can be blocked and disregarded.  He's just an abusive piece of crap who whines whenever he gets treated in the way he's earned.  Just disgusting.  


You're too stupid to tell the difference between rain and your dear leaders pissing on your head. The poster child for useful idiots.

https://www.google.com/amp/s/www.politico.com/amp/news/2020/04/01/un-calls-for-global-response-to-coronavirus-pandemic-158875

The United Nations on Tuesday called for the launch of a “large-scale, coordinated and comprehensive multilateral response” to the coronavirus pandemic, an ambitious proposal that would amount to at least 10 percent of global gross domestic product.

Telstar

Telstar
Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response Skull11

Floridatexan

Floridatexan

Trade Adviser Warned White House in January of Risks of a Pandemic

A memo from Peter Navarro is the most direct warning known to have circulated at a key moment among top administration officials.

By Maggie Haberman
Published April 6, 2020
Updated April 7, 2020, 7:42 a.m. ET

A top White House adviser starkly warned Trump administration officials in late January that the coronavirus crisis could cost the United States trillions of dollars and put millions of Americans at risk of illness or death.

The warning, written in a memo by Peter Navarro, President Trump’s trade adviser, is the highest-level alert known to have circulated inside the West Wing as the administration was taking its first substantive steps to confront a crisis that had already consumed China’s leaders and would go on to upend life in Europe and the United States.

“The lack of immune protection or an existing cure or vaccine would leave Americans defenseless in the case of a full-blown coronavirus outbreak on U.S. soil,” Mr. Navarro’s memo said. “This lack of protection elevates the risk of the coronavirus evolving into a full-blown pandemic, imperiling the lives of millions of Americans.”

Dated Jan. 29, it came during a period when Mr. Trump was playing down the risks to the United States, and he would later go on to say that no one could have predicted such a devastating outcome.

Mr. Navarro said in the memo that the administration faced a choice about how aggressive to be in containing an outbreak, saying the human and economic costs would be relatively low if it turned out to be a problem along the lines of a seasonal flu.

But he went on to emphasize that the “risk of a worst-case pandemic scenario should not be overlooked” given the information coming from China.

In one worst-case scenario cited in the memo, more than a half-million Americans could die.

A second memo that Mr. Navarro wrote, dated Feb. 23, warned of an “increasing probability of a full-blown COVID-19 pandemic that could infect as many as 100 million Americans, with a loss of life of as many as 1.2 million souls.”

At that time, Mr. Trump was still downplaying the threat of the virus. The administration was considering asking Congress for more money to address the situation, and the second memo, which circulated around the West Wing and was obtained by The Times, urged an immediate supplemental spending appropriation from Congress of at least $3 billion.

“This is NOT a time for penny-pinching or horse trading on the Hill,” Mr. Navarro wrote in the second memo, which was unsigned but which officials attributed to him. It was unclear whether Mr. Trump saw the second memo, whose contents were first reported by Axios.

The second memo seemed aimed at members of the White House Task Force established by Mr. Trump to manage the crisis, and reflected deep divisions within the administration about how to proceed and persistent feuding between Mr. Navarro and many other top officials about his role and his views.

“Any member of the Task Force who wants to be cautious about appropriating funds for a crisis that could inflict trillions of dollars in economic damage and take millions of lives has come to the wrong administration,” the memo said.

Among other things, the memo called for an increase funding for the government to purchase personal protective equipment for health care workers, estimating they would need “at least a billion face masks” over a four-to-six-month period.

The administration ended up asking for $2.5 billion. Congress then approved $8 billion.

Mr. Navarro is now the administration’s point person for supply chain issues for medical and other equipment needed to deal with the virus.

The January memo written by Mr. Navarro was dated the same day that Mr. Trump named the task force to deal with the threat, and as the administration was weighing whether to bar some travelers from China, an option being pushed by Mr. Navarro.

Mr. Trump would approve the limits on travel from China the next day, though it would be weeks before he began taking more aggressive steps to head off spread of the virus.

Questions about Mr. Trump’s handling of the crisis, especially in its early days when he suggested it was being used by Democrats to undercut his re-election prospects, are likely to define his presidency. Mr. Navarro’s memo is evidence that some in the upper ranks of the administration had at least considered the possibility of the outbreak turning into something far more serious than Mr. Trump was acknowledging publicly at the time.

Neither Mr. Navarro nor spokespeople for the White House responded to requests for comment.

The memo, which was reviewed by The New York Times, was sent from Mr. Navarro to the National Security Council and then distributed to several officials across the administration, people familiar with the events said. It reached a number of top officials as well as aides to Mick Mulvaney, then the acting chief of staff, they said, but it was unclear whether Mr. Trump saw it.

Mr. Navarro is a well-established China hawk who has long been mistrustful of the country’s government and trade practices. Both Mr. Navarro and Matthew Pottinger, the chief deputy at the National Security Council, were among the few officials urging colleagues in January to take a harder line in relation to the growing threat of the coronavirus.

But their warnings were seen by other officials as primarily reflecting their concerns about China’s behavior — and their concerns look more prescient in hindsight than they actually were, other officials argue.

With the subject line “Impose Travel Ban on China?” Mr. Navarro opened the memo by writing, “If the probability of a pandemic is greater than roughly 1%, a game-theoretic analysis of the coronavirus indicates the clear dominant strategy is an immediate travel ban on China.”

Mr. Navarro concluded at one point: “Regardless of whether the coronavirus proves to be a pandemic-level outbreak, there are certain costs associated with engaging in policies to contain and mitigate the spread of the disease. The most readily available option to contain the spread of the outbreak is to issue a travel ban to and from the source of the outbreak, namely, mainland China.”

He suggested that under an “aggressive” containment scenario, a travel ban may need to last as long as 12 months for proper containment, a duration of time that at that point some White House aides saw as unsustainable.

The travel limits subsequently imposed by Mr. Trump did not entirely ban travel from China, and many travelers from the country continued to stream into the United States.

Mr. Navarro was at odds with medical experts like Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, who had argued that such travel bans only delay the eventual spread.

Mr. Navarro alluded to that debate on Saturday during a separate argument with Dr. Fauci in the Situation Room about whether the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine was effective in treating or preventing the virus, according to two people familiar with the events.

In the memo, Mr. Navarro cautioned that it was “unlikely the introduction of the coronavirus into the U.S. population in significant numbers will mimic a ‘seasonal flu’ event with relatively low contagion and mortality rates.”

He noted the history of pandemic flus and suggested the chances were elevated for one after the new pathogen had developed in China.

“This historical precedent alone should be sufficient to prove the need to take aggressive action to contain the outbreak,” he wrote, going on to say the early estimates of how easily the virus was spreading supported the possibility that the risks were even greater than the history of flu pandemics suggested.

Mark Mazzetti contributed reporting.

https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/06/us/politics/navarro-warning-trump-coronavirus.html?campaign_id=9&emc=edit_NN_p_20200407&instance_id=17431&nl=morning-briefing&regi_id=57249491&section=topNews&segment_id=24138&te=1&user_id=003b223a2f944c5ae2f41b9b0936a70e

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zsomething


Trump keeps whining that previous administrations should have developed a vaccine, displaying the fact that he lacks even a basic grasp of how viruses work. You can't come up with a vaccine three or more years ago for a strain that mutated into existence just a few months ago.

If he'd kept with the program that Obama had put in place, and even Dubya foresaw, and had taken the threat seriously when it first surfaced instead of trying to "wishcraft" it away, we could have avoided a lot of this. Because Trump didn't keep with the program to ready equipment like masks and ventilators, and let this thing get a head start on spreading, we're likely going to end up with six-figure deathtoll and a recession for sure, and likely a depression.

And some people are still considering voting for the jackass. Willful ignorance and cultist team-loyalty is actually overriding self-preservation at this point. I don't know what this scumbag could do to shake his doormat base off of him. The whole thing's an abusive relationship and they keep taking the flowers and fighting off the cops when they come to pick him up. Republican governors are risking the citizens of their states to try to protect the Trump who's pissing on 'em. It's sick. The Republican party has cancer and are refusing chemo because they're afraid of pissing off their tumor.

And the Republican base is coming up with increasingly outlandish conspiracy theories, which they feverently believe because it's the only thing helping them avoid the truth: they were stupid to elect a guy who's not only incompetent, but insane. But that seems to be what their base wants. I thought Dubya was as dumb as they could go. Then they fell in love with Sarah Palin, one of the stupidist human beings to ever find the national stage. And then they climbed over a ton of other candidates to elect... Donald Trump. They also have absolute clowns like Gaetz and Louie Gohmert. They're probably going to have to go to the vegetable kingdom to find anything stupider to elect next time, but I now believe that they'll try.

I don't know how anyone claims to be Republican anymore. You would think embarrassment would have necessitated a divorce from the party, but, nope. A lot of 'em are so fucking dumb they don't know when they're being humiliated. Or maybe they're just masochists and get a buzz off of it, who knows.

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