President Donald Trump’s son-in-law has taken it upon himself to lead the federal government’s efforts to manufacture new ventilators after months of inaction, The New York Times reported Thursday.
“The shortage of ventilators has emerged as one of the major criticism of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus. The need to quickly equip hospitals across the country with tens of thousands more of the devices to treat those most seriously ill with the virus was not anticipated despite the Trump administration’s own projection in a simulation last year that millions of people could be hospitalized,” the newspaper reported. “And even now, the effort to produce them has been confused and disorganized.”
“At the center of the discussion about how to ramp up the production of ventilators is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House aide, who has told people that he was called in two weeks ago by Vice President Mike Pence to produce more coronavirus test kits and who has now turned his attention to ventilators,” The Times reported.
The newspaper noted that the White House had been preparing to announce on Wednesday a joint venture between General Motors and Ventec Life Systems to manufacture up to 80,000 ventilators. The Federal Emergency Management Agency canceled the announcement.
The newspaper noted Kushner “has been directing officials at FEMA in the effort. Two officials said the suggestion to wait on the General Motors offer came from Col. Patrick Work, who is working at FEMA.”
— David Gura (@davidgura) March 27, 2020
“At the center of the discussion about how to ramp up the production of ventilators is Jared Kushner, the president’s son-in-law and a senior White House aide…” https://t.co/m7RxHw7YLg
— Maggie Haberman (@maggieNYT) March 27, 2020
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Trump Administration Orders Halt to ‘First of Its Kind’ COVID-19 Testing at Home Project Backed by Bill Gates
The Trump administration has ordered an “innovative” and “first of its kind” at home coronavirus testing program that has the support of Bill Gates and other public health experts to cease, and it’s unclear why.
The program, as The New York Times and NPR affiliate KUOW report, is based in Seattle, Washington, and allowed residents to easily test for coronavirus. One of the program’s benefits is 43 percent of its more than 12,000 participants so far were asymptomatic. To date the program has identified dozens of previously-undetected COVID-19 cases.
The Seattle Coronavirus Assessment Network (SCAN), operated by researchers from the Seattle Flu Study and Public Health – Seattle & King County, and had an “in-person technical adviser” from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, was authorized by the State of Washington.
“Please discontinue patient testing and return of diagnostic results to patients until proper authorization is obtained,” the FDA ordered, saying it had “concerns about safety and accuracy.”
SCAN’s researchers say they had, The Times reports, “submitted data validating both the safety and reliability of the swabs in home-based collection.”
One researcher not affiliated with the program called halting it “bizarre.”
It’s unclear if Bill Gates’ association with the project has any negative impact. Some far right conspiracy theorists among Trump’s base, including those protesting state stay-at-home policies, falsely claim Gates is developing a vaccine that contains a microchip to track those who get injected.
President Donald Trump has been very concerned with the actual numbers attached to coronavirus cases and has made clear he wanted to keep the numbers low to help his re-election campaign.
He has said, “we don’t want everybody taking this test,” referring to coronavirus testing. “It’s totally unnecessary. This will pass through and we’re going to be even stronger for it.”
On Thursday Trump said testing for coronavirus is “overrated,” and complained that the more tests are conducted, the more cases there are.
“When you test, you have a case,” Trump said in Allentown, Pennsylvania. “When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing we would have very few cases.”
CDC Under Fire for Not Releasing Information on How Coronavirus Patients Recovered
The CDC is again falling short of its responsibilities under the impending coronavirus pandemic. The agency that was once considered the best public health agency in the world for preventing the spread of infectious disease has withered under President Donald Trump, who installed as the head of the CDC a physician who “has no experience leading a public health agency.”
First the CDC botched the coronavirus test. The CDC insisted on creating and producing its own test rather than using one from the World Health Organization. Then it produced a faulty one that renders the test useless.
That likely explains why less than 500 people in the U.S. have been tested for COVID-19, while in other countries the number of people tested is dramatically higher. South Korea, according to the CDC, has tested 70,940 people as of Feb. 28.
The British government is tweeting out the number of people tested and the number of positive tests – again, testing a far greater number of people than the U.S. has:
UPDATE on coronavirus (#COVID19) testing in the UK:
As of 9am 1 March 2020, a total of 11,750 people have been tested:
— Department of Health and Social Care (@DHSCgovuk) March 1, 2020
Meanwhile, the CDC is now inexplicably refusing to share with physicians across the county the details of treatment for all but one of the coronavirus patients who have recovered.
“As new cases of coronavirus arise daily in the United States — including several announced over the weekend and one death — the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has failed to release crucial information physicians say could help save the lives of Americans diagnosed with the novel coronavirus,” CNN reports. “The CDC is the federal agency that communicates with physicians about how to handle outbreaks. Whether it’s SARS, Ebola or last year’s measles outbreak, the agency uses information from cases around the world — and in particular the United States — to advise doctors on how to diagnose, evaluate and treat diseases.”
The former Director of the Office of Public Health Preparedness and Response (PHPR) at the CDC, Dr. Ali Khan, criticized his former agency for not releasing the information, for the faulty test “fiasco,” and for releasing “somebody from quarantine” who later was revealed to have tested positive.
Dr. Irwin Redlener, director of the National Center for Disaster Preparedness at Columbia University, told CNN “it’s absolutely essential that physicians with experience with a particular condition disseminate information to others,” and he calls the CDC’s decision to not “inexplicable and inappropriate.”
“Health officials in three states that have already had coronavirus patients,” CNN adds, “say they shared detailed clinical information about their patients with the CDC, but the CDC has not yet released it.”
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