Six Ways Trump's Corrupt Coronavirus Response Has Failed
This week, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 (coronavirus) an international pandemic.1 And with conflicting information coming out of the White House and Trump's administration, misinformation and confusion are spreading like wildfire. Through it all, what's been heartening is the way that people are working to support each other and taking appropriate steps to keep ourselves, our families, and our communities safe and healthy, like implementing social distancing policies.
What we need the most in this moment of crisis is competent and honest leadership in the White House that prioritizes the lives and livelihoods of all of us.
Moments like these are when the role of a competent federal government—one that prioritizes the interest of people over profits—is so essential. While we focus on keeping our families and communities safe, we must also recognize that we deserve better as a country, and we must speak out when our leaders are putting corporate profits and their own reputations above the interests of public health.
This crisis has exposed the Trump Administration's incompetence and its underlying corruption. It's dangerous and it may even cost lives. While we fight to protect our families and communities, we also have to call out the threats and demand that they do better.
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Here are some more details on how Trump's corrupt coronavirus response has failed:
1. Trump is putting drug company profits ahead of vaccine affordability. Trump installed a former Big Pharma executive and lobbyist, Alex Azar, to head the Department of Health and Human Services. When asked by Congress if a future vaccine will be guaranteed to be affordable for all Americans, Azar refused to commit. Instead, he suggested that private pharmaceutical companies’ profits would come before the health needs of the people.2
2. Trump has caused disastrous testing delays in an attempt to keep numbers artificially low. While other countries raced to produce tests and were testing thousands of their citizens every day, the Trump administration delayed for weeks as the virus spread across the United States.3 Even now, tests are strictly limited, the damage of the delays cannot be reversed, and Trump and Pence are lying about the availability of tests. South Korea has tested close to 200,000 of its citizens; as of March 6, the U.S. had tested fewer than 2,000.4 Reports indicate Trump was against widespread testing, because he wanted to keep the “numbers” of reported cases low.5
3. Trump is spreading ignorant and dangerous misinformation. Donald Trump has tried to downplay the virus, directly contradicting federal infectious disease experts,6 and has tried to sow politically opportunistic mayhem by calling the coronavirus the “Democrats’ new hoax.”7 He has suggested it's fine to go to work when sick and that the coronavirus is no worse than the normal flu. All of these statements are lies. Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci, said during hearings that the mortality rate of the coronavirus "is multiple times what the seasonal flu is." Trump also has repeatedly said that a vaccine could be ready within months, again having to be corrected by Fauci that it would be more than a year.8
4. Trump gutted the pandemic response. In 2018, Trump axed the top White House official on pandemics and his entire executive branch team responsible for coordinating responses to pandemics—and never replaced them.9 And by the way, Trump and the GOP are still pursuing a legal case in the courts to take health care away from 30 million people.
5. Trump is prioritizing Wall Street over people and public health. Trump has muzzled his own experts, downplayed the threat, and delayed taking aggressive action, because he was afraid of the stock market tanking (which it did anyway).10 He placed Larry Kudlow, whose only experience is as a Wall Street pundit, on his Coronavirus Task Force.11
6. Instead of following the science, Trump & the GOP are promoting hate and fear. First, the Trump administration wanted to use the virus as an excuse to shut down the southern border, even though that is not how the disease is spreading inside the United States.12 Now, his Republican allies are trying to rename the virus in an attempt to gin up racist feelings toward Chinese and other Asian people.13
If we don't speak out now, Trump and his administration will only continue to pursue their corrupt agenda and put public health at risk.
1. Coronavirus: COVID-19 Is Now Officially A Pandemic, WHO Says" NPR, March 11, 2020
2. "Health Secretary Alex Azar Refuses To Guarantee Coronavirus Vaccine Would Be Affordable For All," Forbes, February 27, 2020
3. "How testing failures allowed coronavirus to sweep the U.S.," Politico, March 6, 2020
4. "The CDC’s rocky effort to get Americans tested for coronavirus, explained," Vox, March 6, 2020
5. "Which is Trump more worried about: Coronavirus numbers or coronavirus patients?," The Washington Post, March 7, 2020
6. "Not His First Epidemic: Dr. Anthony Fauci Sticks to the Facts," The New York Times, March 8, 2020
7. "Trump calls coronavirus Democrats' 'new hoax,'" NBC News, February 28, 2020
8. "Trump has many hunches about the coronavirus. Here's what the experts say." NBC News, March 5, 2020
9. "Did Trump Fire the US Pandemic Response Team?" Snopes, February 26, 2020
10. "White House struggles to contain public alarm over coronavirus," The Washington Post, February 26, 2020
11. "Cronyism and Conflicts of Interest in Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force," The Intercept, February 29, 2020
12. "Why pandemics activate xenophobia," Vox, March 4, 2020
13. "Republicans face backlash over racist labeling of coronavirus," The Guardian, March 10, 2020