Media Outlets Examine Trump Administration’s Current, Past Actions On Pandemic Preparedness, Implications For COVID-19 Response

CNN: U.S. freezes shipments of protective gear overseas
“The Trump administration will no longer ship personal protective equipment to allies overseas as the United States grapples with critical shortages of supplies and coronavirus cases continue to soar. A congressional source told CNN on Wednesday that they were informed late last Friday night that the coronavirus task force — led by Vice President Mike Pence — was stopping overseas shipments of the medical equipment and instead asking that the supplies be distributed within the United States…” (Atwood et al., 4/2).

Foreign Policy: In Global Leadership Void on Pandemic, Critics Ask: Where’s Pompeo?
“As world leaders grapple with a pandemic that is forcing them to reshuffle their priorities, U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo has stuck largely to his pre-crisis script, doubling down on the administration’s hard-line Iran stance and unveiling a new effort to oust Venezuelan leader Nicolás Maduro from power. His continued focus on these issues leaves some experts and former diplomats worried that Pompeo, and by extension the Trump administration, is too narrowly fixated on a select few foreign-policy objectives — instead of rallying the world around a unified response to the coronavirus pandemic. All the while, critics worry that China is happily stepping in to fill the void as it edges closer to global superpower status…” (Gramer/Lynch, 4/2).

Los Angeles Times: Trump administration ended pandemic early-warning program to detect coronaviruses
“Two months before the novel coronavirus probably began spreading in Wuhan, China, the Trump administration ended a $200 million pandemic early-warning program aimed at training scientists in China and other countries to detect and respond to such a threat. The project, launched by the U.S. Agency for International Development in 2009, identified 1,200 different viruses that had the potential to erupt into pandemics, including more than 160 novel coronaviruses. The initiative, called PREDICT, also trained and supported staff in 60 foreign laboratories — including the Wuhan lab that identified 2019-nCoV, the new coronavirus that causes covid-19…” (4/2).

Mother Jones: Elizabeth Warren: How John Bolton Blew Off Senators Who Asked About Global Pandemics
“…Sens. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) and Patty Murray (D-Wash.) were troubled by this news [of Rear Admiral Tim Ziemer’s 2018 departure from the National Security Council], and they sent Bolton a letter noting the dismantling of the NSC’s global health squad ‘comes amid continuing concerns that the nation and the world are unprepared for pandemic outbreaks or other global health threats.’ … They posed Bolton a series of questions about the NSC’s preparedness to address a pandemic, including, ‘What current structure is in place at the NSC to address global health security?’ And the pair requested a ‘staff-level briefing on the Administration’s global public health work’ within two weeks. In an interview with Mother Jones this week, Warren recalls that Bolton blew them off…” (Corn, 4/2).

New York Magazine: Trump Replaced White House Pandemic-Response Team With Jared Kushner
“…Trump did eliminate the job of coordinating a national pandemic response. And the strongest evidence of the damage he did is that this job is now being performed by Jared Kushner. … The NSC’s remaining global-health staff did sound the alarm about the coronavirus early on, but its warnings did not register with high-level officials…” (Chait, 4/2).

POLITICO: Inside the National Security Council, a rising sense of dread
“On the second day in January, as a mysterious pathogen was infecting its way across China, Dr. Robert Redfield contacted the National Security Council. The U.S. government had unconfirmed information about what officials believed to be a novel coronavirus, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said. Better pay attention. … Looking at the data in January and February felt like staring into a bleak crystal ball, one administration official said…” (Lippman et al., 4/2).

Scientific American: Why the Coronavirus Slipped Past Disease Detectives
“…Experts say that like a fishing net with many holes, the surveillance network had numerous gaps, with too little money and manpower to be truly effective. … Indeed, in September 2019, just months before the COVID-19 pandemic began, USAID announced it would end funding for PREDICT. The agency claims it has plans for a successor effort, but it has not provided any additional details, and many worry that critical momentum is being lost…” (Schmidt, 4/3).

Washington Post: Commander of confusion: Trump sows uncertainty and seeks to cast blame in coronavirus crisis
“In the three weeks since declaring the novel coronavirus outbreak a national emergency, President Trump has delivered a dizzying array of rhetorical contortions, sowed confusion and repeatedly sought to cast blame on others. … As Trump has sought to remake his public image from that of a skeptic of the pandemic’s danger to a savior forestalling catastrophe and protecting hundreds of thousands of people from a vicious contagion, he also has distorted the truth, making edits and creating illusions at many turns…” (Rucker/Costa, 4/2).

The KFF Daily Global Health Policy Report summarized news and information on global health policy from hundreds of sources, from May 2009 through December 2020. All summaries are archived and available via search.

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