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.”
The problem, noted McCaskill, is compounded by the unique exposure of workers in certain agencies. “State has more than 75,000 employees, with more than 9,000 Foreign Service and Civil Service officers scattered overseas. DHS employs more than 240,000 workers, many of whom interact with people daily for work, such as employees with Customs and Border Protection and the Transportation Security Administration. And the Department of Defense has roughly 26,000 employees inside its Pentagon headquarters in Virginia, but employs nearly 3 million service members and civilians worldwide, with a presence in more than 160 countries and nearly 5,000 defense sites.”
Workers are outraged about this inability to coordinate, and fear it will make everything worse.
“We’ve been getting a lot of mixed information,” said Mike Perrone, the president of the aviation workers’ union whose workers were put in danger by the Las Vegas incident. “The president has put out different information, then OMB puts out guidance, and then the DOT secretary puts out guidance and then the FAA administrator puts out guidance.”
“Nobody said nothing for how many hours? And they knew about it?” he continued. “I’m frustrated — very frustrated — because literally people are gonna get sick and people could potentially die or spread it to their families.”
You can read more here.
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Confirmed US Coronavirus-Related Deaths Surge – Double in Just Two Days
The number of confirmed coronavirus-related deaths in the United States has doubled in just two days, The Washington Post reported Saturday evening. The number of people who have died from COVID-19 now stands at 2000.
It was just over one month ago when President Donald Trump told the American people there were just 15 cases and “within days” the number would drop to “close to zero.”
Trump on that day said: “that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”
“It took about a month from the first confirmed death for the United States to record 1,000,” the Post adds. “That toll has risen rapidly as officials have been warning the worst is yet to come.”
The National Security Council Gave Trump a 69-Page Pandemic Plan Three Years Ago — He Ignored It
On Wednesday, Politico reported the details of a 69-page pandemic response playbook given to President Donald Trump’s team by the National Security Council, outlining key steps the federal government should take to coordinate a response and contain the crisis — and revealed how the White House was catastrophically late to implement the plan’s major suggestions at the start of the coronavirus pandemic.
“The Trump administration, state officials and even individual hospital workers are now racing against each other to get the necessary masks, gloves and other safety equipment to fight coronavirus — a scramble that hospitals and doctors say has come too late and left them at risk,” wrote Dan Diamond and Nahal Toolsi. “But according to a previously unrevealed White House playbook, the government should’ve begun a federal-wide effort to procure that personal protective equipment at least two months ago.”
The report continued: “‘Is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?’ the playbook instructs its readers, as one early decision that officials should address when facing a potential pandemic. ‘If YES: What are the triggers to signal exhaustion of supplies? Are additional supplies available? If NO: Should the Strategic National Stockpile release PPE to states?’”
This playbook, which was devised in 2016 in the wake of the government’s attempts to contain Ebola just years before, reportedly “also stresses the significant responsibility facing the White House to contain risks of potential pandemics, a stark contrast with the Trump administration’s delays in deploying an all-of-government response and President Donald Trump’s recent signals that he might roll back public health recommendations.”
A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services maintained this plan was never formally adopted and said, “The HHS COVID-19 response was informed by more recent plans such as the foundation of the National Biodefense Strategy (2018), Biological Incident Annex (2017), and panCAP (2018) among other key plans provided by the CDC, White House Task Force, FEMA, and other key federal departments and agencies.”
Nonetheless, according to Politico, the existence of the plan undercuts Trump’s narrative that the coronavirus disaster was unforeseeable: “Trump’s aides were told to expect a potential pandemic, ranging from a tabletop exercise that the outgoing Obama administration prepared for the president’s incoming aides to a ‘Crimson Contagion’ scenario that health officials undertook just last year and modeled out potential risks of a global infectious disease threat. Trump’s deputies also have said that their coronavirus response relies on a federal playbook, specifically referring to a strategy laid out by the Centers for Disease Control.”
“It is not clear if the administration’s failure to follow the NSC playbook was the result of an oversight or a deliberate decision to follow a different course,” continued the report.
You can read more here.
Trump Will Be a ‘One-Man Death Panel’ if He Sends People Back to Work Amid Pandemic: Medical Experts
President Donald Trump’s stated desire to get America back up and running by Easter despite the continued threat from the coronavirus pandemic is running into a wall of criticism from medical experts.
In interviews with the New York Times, several medical experts said that pushing Americans to return to work in the middle of a pandemic would make the spread of the disease vastly worse than it is right now.
“The virus will surge, many will fall ill and there will be more deaths,” Dr. William Schaffner, a preventive medicine expert at the Vanderbilt University School of Medicine, tells the Times of Trump’s push to ease social distancing restrictions.
“Nobody voted in Donald Trump thinking he would become a ‘one-man death panel’ empowered to dispense with American lives like cannon fodder,” Amir Attaran, a professor of law and medicine at the University of Ottawa, tells the paper. “It would be political suicide for him and murder for many others.”
Dr. Peter Rabinowitz, the acting director of the University of Washington MetaCenter for Pandemic Disease Preparedness, similarly tells the Times that there are no shortcuts in dealing with the virus.
“The lesson from China is that aggressive measures to reduce the spread of the virus, continued for two months, have led to a reduction in new cases,” he says.
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