President Donald Trump has just announced Vice President Mike Pence in charge of the federal government’s response to coronavirus.
“I’m going to be announcing exactly right now,” Trump said from the White House press briefing room, that I’m putting “Vice President Mike Pence in charge” of coronavirus.
“And Mike will report back to me, but he’s got a certain talent for this.”
“They look at the Indiana model,” Trump said. “It’s been a great success. It’s been a tremendous model, in terms of health care.”
When Vice President Pence was Indiana Governor Mike Pence, he led his state into an HIV crisis.
“In late 2014, health officials belatedly became aware of an HIV outbreak in Scott County, Indiana,” The Nation reported in 2018. “With fewer than 24,000 people, this rural county rarely saw a single new case in a year, according to The New York Times. But by the time government agencies tried to stop the transmission of the virus a few months later, some 215 people had tested positive.”
“One man seemed responsible for needlessly letting the situation get out of control: Indiana’s then-Governor Mike Pence. In 2015, when the virus was seeming to rapidly move through networks of people who use intravenous drugs, even the reluctant local sheriff encouraged the governor to authorize a clean-needle exchange, a proven tool to reduce such an outbreak.”
That New York Times article was titled: “Mike Pence’s Response to H.I.V. Outbreak: Prayer, Then a Change of Heart.” It mentioned prayer five times.
Trump announces that Mike Pence will be his coronavirus czar pic.twitter.com/ika9XERoRo
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) February 26, 2020
Wednesday evening, President Trump told the American public Pence would now be in charge of keeping Americans safe.
Here’s how some are responding to news Pence is in charge of the federal government’s response to coronavirus.
– Opposed needle-exchange programs in Indiana and oversaw an outbreak of HIV
– Argued that smoking doesn't kill
Now don't you feel better that *he* is in charge of Coronavirus response?
— igorvolsky (@igorvolsky) February 26, 2020
— Jonathan Capehart (@CapehartJ) February 26, 2020
Trump currently complimenting Pence on Indiana's healthcare, which was famous for having an avoidable AIDS outbreak when he was governor https://t.co/Ms6xh72Ozw
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) February 26, 2020
Meet our new coronavirus czar.
I feel safer already. https://t.co/Ib1oyMNswB
— Rep. Mark Pocan (@repmarkpocan) February 26, 2020
When Mike Pence was governor of Indiana, his public health record was so stellar that his state policy led directly to a large HIV outbreak.
— Chris Hayes (@chrislhayes) February 26, 2020
So, the guy who allowed an HIV outbreak in Indiana while he was governor is now in charge of dealing with containing the coronavirus outbreak?https://t.co/cYDk414oR3
— Mehdi Hasan (@mehdirhasan) February 26, 2020
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Major Medical Journal Demands Trump Be Replaced Over Abject Failures of COVID-19 Response
In a very rare commentary on political matters, the editors of the esteemed medical journal Lancet called for a new president in 2021 who can competently deal with a major health crisis by letting health care professionals do their jobs.
In what can only be described as a scorching appraisal, the editors called out President Donald Trump and some of his top aides for undercutting the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) at a time when the U.S — and the world at large — are being ravaged by the COVID-19 virus.
“The COVID-19 pandemic continues to worsen in the USA with 1·3 million cases and an estimated death toll of 80 684 as of May 12. States that were initially the hardest hit, such as New York and New Jersey, have decelerated the rate of infections and deaths after the implementation of 2 months of lockdown. However, the emergence of new outbreaks in Minnesota, where the stay-at-home order is set to lift in mid-May, and Iowa, which did not enact any restrictions on movement or commerce, has prompted pointed new questions about the inconsistent and incoherent national response to the COVID-19 crisis,” the editorial began, before adding, “The US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the flagship agency for the nation’s public health, has seen its role minimized and become an ineffective and nominal adviser in the response to contain the spread of the virus.”
The piece was highly critical of Dr. Deborah Birx for her stunning comment, “There is nothing from the CDC that I can trust.”
“This is an unhelpful statement, but also a shocking indictment of an agency that was once regarded as the gold standard for global disease detection and control,” the editorial stated. “How did an agency that was the first point of contact for many national health authorities facing a public health threat become so ill-prepared to protect the public’s health?”
“The Trump administration further chipped away at the CDC’s capacity to combat infectious diseases. CDC staff in China were cut back with the last remaining CDC officer recalled home from the China CDC in July, 2019, leaving an intelligence vacuum when COVID-19 began to emerge,” the piece continued. “In a press conference on Feb 25, Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned US citizens to prepare for major disruptions to movement and everyday life. Messonnier subsequently no longer appeared at White House briefings on COVID-19. More recently, the Trump administration has questioned guidelines that the CDC has provided. These actions have undermined the CDC’s leadership and its work during the COVID-19 pandemic.”
Noting the long and distinguished history of the CDC — while also admitting mistakes have been made by the CDC in its handing the coronavirus pandemic — the editorial continued, “But punishing the agency by marginalising and hobbling it is not the solution. The Administration is obsessed with magic bullets—vaccines, new medicines, or a hope that the virus will simply disappear.”
The editorial concluded, “The Trump administration’s further erosion of the CDC will harm global cooperation in science and public health, as it is trying to do by defunding WHO. A strong CDC is needed to respond to public health threats, both domestic and international, and to help prevent the next inevitable pandemic. Americans must put a president in the White House come January, 2021, who will understand that public health should not be guided by partisan politics.”
You can read the whole editorial here.
Trump Avoiding Meetings With Hospital Leaders as They Beg for Help With Coronavirus Crisis: Report
According to a report from Politico, beleaguered U.S. hospitals are pleading for help from Donald Trump’s administration as they are swamped with patients seeking care from the exploding coronavirus pandemic.
However, the president has been keeping his distance.
Despite assurances from Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services Administrator Seema Verma that help is on the way in the form of rolling back some regulations that may help ease the burden, hospital administrators claim her plans do too little.
“Hospital leaders say that the new announcements only touch the surface of their needs, as they worry about shortages of crucial supplies, risks to their workers and the possibility of an industry bailout as coronavirus patients swarm their facilities,” the report states. “An expert on an American Hospital Association webinar last month predicted as many as 1.9 million ICU admissions from the coronavirus outbreak over the next few months, swamping existing facilities. There are only about 100,000 ICU beds across the U.S. health system.”
According to Chip Kahn, head of the for-profit Federation of American Hospitals, “I think there will be hospitals that could be pushed to the edge financially.”
The Politico report notes, “Some hospital leaders have quietly floated that they’ll need federal funding to pay for rented hotels or other arrangements as their hospital wards are quickly overrun by the coronavirus outbreak,” adding, “The risk of failure is severe: Public health experts have warned that the U.S. coronavirus outbreak, which is in its early days, could be on track to resemble the increasingly dire situation in Italy, where patients have overwhelmed that nation’s health system. That’s left hospitals calling for extreme measures from the White House and scrambling to prepare emergency steps of their own while they wait for a response.”
Adding to their problems is the fact that leaders in the hospital industry have been unable to meet face to face with President Donald Trump who made a show of meeting with CEO’s representing the retail and financial sectors.
“But in the face of the looming crisis, hospital executives said that leaders were underwhelmed by their Wednesday meeting with Verma, who spent much of the hour-long session taking notes but failed to calm industry fears about swamped emergency rooms and medical supply shortages, according to three individuals with direct knowledge of the meeting. Vice President Mike Pence briefly joined the meeting but departed to join other officials as they worked to prepare the president for his Oval Office address,” the report states. “But hospital leaders haven’t had time alone with President Donald Trump — even as leaders of other health sectors, like the insurance industry, the pharma industry and the lab industry, have been granted extended face-to-face meetings with the president and Pence.”
You can read more here.
Trump Tried to Halt Stock Market Free Fall. He Lied About Coronavirus. The DOW Just Had the Biggest One-Day Drop in History.
In a muddled, dishonest, rambling news conference from the White House press briefing room President Donald Trump for over an hour talked to reporters Wednesday evening about coronavirus, in an attempt to stave off three days of market near-collapse. He lied. He twisted the truth. He displayed little grasp of basic facts. He didn’t let the experts run the show.
He instilled no confidence Wednesday night. In fact, the DOW futures dropped as Trump began speaking:
Dow Futures dropped when Trump said the market fell 2k points because of the Dem debate pic.twitter.com/cvbviB2l9a
— Evan Siegfried (@evansiegfried) February 27, 2020
The markets on Thursday rewarded his efforts with the DOW posting the largest single day loss in history.
— CNBC Now (@CNBCnow) February 27, 2020
The Trump administration has known about coronavirus since at least December 1, 2019. It did nothing until January 29, when the White House posted a memo announcing President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force. The task force did not even include the Surgeon General, making it clear the White House had little interest in communicating to the American people any sense of competence or delivering even an iota of public education.
Nearly an entire month went by. Trump and the First Family played in India, posing at the Taj Mahal, refusing to eat the specially prepared foods their hosts created just for them, and praising Prime Minister Modi as Muslims were being slayed just streets away from where the Trump family was staying.
The grandeur and beauty of the Taj Mahal is awe inspiring! 🇺🇸 🇮🇳 pic.twitter.com/jcYwXHxf4c
— Ivanka Trump (@IvankaTrump) February 24, 2020
“The losses mark the worse week for U.S. stocks since the financial crash of 2008. The S&P 500 and Nasdaq each also plunged by more than 4%,” reports ABC News, calling it the “worst week” since the 2008 global financial crisis.
This, as the First Family played, pretending to be on official business as the coronavirus outbreak exploded earlier this week.
Trump returned after two days of about 1000 point drops in the DOW each day. He hastily called a press conference for Wednesday at 6 PM. Just after it began at 6:30 PM it became clear there was not going to be a coronavirus czar, there was no real plan, other than to put in charge Vice President Mike Pence. Even a Fox News pundit eschewed that decision, noting Pence doesn’t believe in science, is not a doctor, and has a horrific record when it comes to public health – he oversaw an explosive HIV outbreak during which he decided to pray for guidance rather than listen to what experts told him he had to do.
And now, as the markets tumble, as Trump lies about the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. and pretends that there might not be “community spread” – the first case of which the CDC literally announced just after Trump’s news conference, it’s become even more clear Trump and his administration aren’t interested in protecting the American public, but rather, they are interesting in appearing to be doing “things” that might make it appear they are protecting the American public – when their goal is to protect the markets.
That’s why Vice President Pence’s first act as head of the Coronavirus Task Force was to add top and Trump economic advisor Larry Kudlow, and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin to the Task Force, along with the Surgeon General (finally).
Absent from the list: any public health experts, any crisis experts, anyone not from the Trump administration, the CDC, or the NIH. In other words, there is no one on the Trump Coronavirus Task Force the Trump administration cannot control.
That’s dangerous. It’s dangerous because the administration has already told the federal government all communication, to reporters and others, is to go through Vice President Pence, and it’s dangerous because there is no one who will tell Trump or Pence anything they don’t want to hear.
And what else is the Trump administration doing?
Campaigning at CPAC, the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Over the course of Thursday through Sunday, 21 top Trump administration officials, including the President and the Vice President, and a large number of Cabinet Secretaries, will all be attending and speaking at the far right wing conference. CPAC over the years has hosted some of the most extreme groups and fringe elements in conservative America. Groups like the John Birch Society, and extremists like Milo Yiannopoulos – whose invitation was pulled when a vile video of him was released.
The Democratic primaries are just getting started but the markets have already voted. They have made clear they have no confidence in this President and this Vice President.
Unfortunately, those who will pay the price for that vote are, as usual, the Americans who can least afford a hit to their life savings – if they have any – or to their 401(k)s, or to the number of hours they work which will be cut so their bosses can save a few bucks when business gets bad.
The stock market has now plunged about 3200 points this week, and there’s no reason to suggest Friday will be any better, because there’s no reason to suggest this president will be any better.
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