Trump disbanded the White House Security Council Pandemic Task Force in January of 2018.
“The system was blinking red,” an intelligence official told The Washington Post, but no one could get Trump to “do anything about it.”
After China reported the outbreak of a new coronavirus in December, U.S. intelligence agencies repeatedly warned the Trump administration in classified messages about the potentially devastating threat, The Washington Post reported Friday. Yet President Donald Trump largely ignored the warnings and delayed action that might have slowed the spread of the COVID-19 disease, according to the newspaper.
Intelligence reports warned that China initially appeared to be minimizing the danger of the virus but that the U.S. would be wise to prepare for a likely pandemic. Yet Trump shrugged off the intelligence and repeatedly assured the public that coronavirus was nothing to worry about.
Now, as cases of the illness and its death toll mount in the U.S., Trump is insisting he thought the problem was “urgent” right from the start and that he “felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic.”
Intelligence agencies “have been warning on this since January,” a U.S. official who had access to reports given to Congress and Trump officials told the Post.
“Donald Trump may not have been expecting this, but a lot of other people in the government were — they just couldn’t get him to do anything about it,” the official said. “The system was blinking red.”
White House spokesperson Hogan Gidley denied the account, insisting to the Post that Trump has “taken historic, aggressive measures to protect the health, wealth and safety of the American people — and did so while the media and Democrats chose to only focus on the stupid politics of a sham illegitimate impeachment.”
Trump dismissed growing threat
It’s clear by Trump’s own public statements, however, that he did not believe coronavirus was a concern. He called criticisms of the White House response to the outbreak a “new hoax” from the Democrats. He said last month that the 15 domestic cases in the U.S. would go down “close to zero” and that the disease would vanish “like a miracle” or disappear by April when the weather turned warmer. (Check out the video below.)
As intelligence warnings increased in urgency, Trump administration officials repeatedly attempted to persuade Trump to focus on the issue — without success, according to the Post. Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and former acting White House chief of staff Mick Mulvaney encouraged Trump to engage in a response to the growing threat. But he was “dismissive,” the Post reported.
Concerns about a dearth of testing for coronavirus was raised in early February by Joe Grogan, the head of the White House Domestic Policy Council, according to the Post. …
Read The Rest And 1-Minute Video
- Bluff, Blame & Bombast Is All White House Can Offer In Trumpandemic Crisis — The one welcome casualty of the coronavirus pandemic ought to be the culture wars. If it achieves nothing else, the health crisis has revealed the emptiness of leaders who manufacture nationalist fears to maintain their power. Boris Johnson now looks as out of place as a clown in a morgue. Donald Trump looks as out of luck as a cornered conman. Nothing is inevitable, however. To see how a pandemic can be used to ensure that supplies of politically useful rage keep flowing, look at how US Republicans are constructing a cover story. They have plenty to cover up. The gaps in safety nets that the virus is revealing everywhere gape in the United States. That the world’s richest country somehow never got round to providing universal healthcare is bad enough, but the incompetence of Trump’s White House and the wider US right has been close to criminal. … Read The Rest
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2020. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link to www.thecommonercall.org )
Frontline Nurses Condemn Trump’s Racism & Cruelty In Midst Of Trumpandemic
Leaders of National Nurses United are calling on President Trump and other Republican officials to stop using racist and xenophobic language targeting China and Chinese people for the global novel coronavirus pandemic.
“It is alarming to hear our highest public officials calling this dangerous pandemic a ‘Chinese’ virus which is not only terribly misleading, it encourages acts of bigotry and threats of violence against people of Chinese descent as well as other Asian people,” says NNU executive director Bonnie Castillo, RN, executive director.
Social media has been swamped with reports from people of Asian descent who have been taunted with racist abuse, and physical threats.
“As nurses, we know that kindness and humanitarian compassion are at the core of healing, they are also at the heart of public health and safety,” says NNU President Zenei Cortez, RN.
“As a global community we should be promoting international cooperation and sharing resources for testing, medical treatment, and the critical search for an effective vaccine. That, not blame, is how to end this crisis.”
“Blaming any one nationality or ethnicity only tears people apart and puts people in danger. We must stand together as one people, and understand that bullying, and threats will only make this severe national crisis worse,” adds NNU President Jean Ross, RN.
In recent days, President Trump has stepped up use of the label “Chinese virus.” Another unnamed White House official used an additional derogatory language referring to the virus as “Kung Flu.”
Other Republican officials have engaged in similar or “even more appalling language and stereotyping,” noted Castillo. Sen. John Cornyn (R-Texas), for example, claimed that “China is to blame because the culture where people eat bats & snakes & dogs & things like that.”
In fact, Castillo noted, a number of highly developed Asian nations—including China, South Korea, Taiwan, and Singapore—have demonstrated a much more rapid and effective response to containing the spread of the virus and providing treatment for those infected, than the U.S. and many European countries.
Many of their health care systems were set up to rapidly expand testing, social distancing and isolation measures, and treatment, and had more capacity to care for those harmed.
Further, viruses can emanate from places across the planet, including the United States. It has been widely reported that the so-called “Spanish flu” pandemic of 1918-1919 actually first occurred in the U.S., not Spain.
And, the acceleration of the climate crisis is encouraging an increase in the spread of a number of endemics, especially vector-borne viruses spreading from tropical settings to other regions as a result of global warming. …
Deadly Incompetence: The White House Asked Manufacturers For Help, Then Gave Them No Clear Instructions
“The federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk,” — Trump
By Yeganeh Torbati
As hospitals across the country face drastic shortages of masks, respirators and other vital equipment, the White House has sent out a plea for donations that’s left many recipients confused and full of questions.
In at least one instance this week, Vice President Mike Pence, who heads the Trump administration’s coronavirus task force, blindsided private industry by requesting that construction companies donate face masks to hospitals. The White House then failed to provide guidance when directly asked.
Pence asked builders on Tuesday to donate the N95 masks used at many construction sites to local hospitals and refrain from ordering more. Within minutes, Stephen Sandherr, chief executive officer of the trade group Associated General Contractors of America, contacted the White House for more details, said Brian Turmail, a group spokesman.
After receiving no reply from the White House, Sandherr sent an email to AGC’s local chapters on Tuesday telling them that Pence’s statement had taken the group by surprise.
No advance notice or guidance
“As we received no advance notice of this announcement and we have received no additional guidance from the Administration, it is our view that this should be considered as a voluntary gesture and not a mandate,” Sandherr wrote. Turmail said several AGC members have donated equipment to their local hospitals.
On Thursday, Sandherr finally heard back from the Department of Health and Human Services, speaking on behalf of the White House, and his group’s members were asked not to donate equipment to hospitals, as Pence had instructed. Instead, he was told the group should collect an inventory of available equipment from members, including masks, booties and protective suits, and share it with the administration.
“It isn’t clear to us, yet, how they intend to use this information, but obviously we are happy to collect the info and share it,” Turmail said.
Recently, the National Association of Manufacturers, a prominent business group, sent its members a White House request asking for “volunteers who can donate and provide and/or produce within two weeks large-scale quantities of critical supplies to help the nation respond to the COVID-19 pandemic.”
The notice — which consisted of a short questionnaire prepared through Survey Monkey — did not explain how the White House would distribute donated equipment to states demanding urgent help, including distributions from the national stockpile of emergency supplies and medications. …
- Trump Cherrypicking Numbers To Make Himself Look Good In Trumpandemic Crisis — President Donald Trump is always keeping score. Sometimes it’s a simple brag — boasting about the highest State of the Union TV ratings in history, trumpeting that he appointed more judges than George Washington, inflating the number of electoral college votes he won in 2016. But cherry-picked numbers are also central to how Trump comprehends a crisis and crafts a positive narrative. As the coronavirus raced around the globe and seized the world’s economy, he has cited numbers to suit his own story that the pandemic would quickly pass and that his administration was in control. It’s a playbook that hasn’t always worked. … Read The Rest
‘People could potentially die’: Federal Workers Are Revolting Against White House Trumpandemic Bumbling
Raw Story (3/21/20)
According to Politico, some members of the Trump administration are angry that there is no coordinated policy to protect government workers during a time of crisis — with some agencies responding quickly to cases in their workforces, and others withholding the information.
“The federal agency that serves as an international multimedia broadcaster for the U.S. informed all employees of its first known coronavirus case about an hour after it knew,” wrote Nolan McCaskill. “But the agency responsible for regulating civil aviation in the U.S. didn’t immediately tell technical operations employees about a positive test result at a Las Vegas airport, allowing them to continue working in a potentially infected area. Those employees, including technicians who had just completed their shifts, found out after a tower was evacuated.”
“If the Trump administration has a unified policy on how it is handling the grim march of the virus within its own ranks, it isn’t sharing it,” continued the report. “Just as cities and states across the country have developed their own responses to the outbreak — from closing schools, bars, restaurants, movie theaters and a mix of other venues to encouraging curfews and issuing shelter-in-place orders — agencies across the federal government are crafting their own policies on how to disclose cases of coronavirus. The result is a confusing jumble of messages that has angered federal workers and those who represent them.” …