Monthly Archives

February 2020

President Trump and Vice President Pence Put Their Reelection Ahead of Coronavirus Response With Rally and Fundraiser Today

Washington, DC — As the threat of coronavirus becomes a reality that Americans cannot ignore, the president and vice president are doing exactly that. Tonight, President Trump will attend a campaign rally in South Carolina while the vice president, who just on Wednesday was tasked with leading the administration’s coronavirus response, is courting rich donors in Florida at a $25,000 a plate fundraiser. Despite dire warnings from health officials that coronavirus will “inevitably” become a global pandemic, the president and vice president continue to put their own political futures over the safety of the American public. In response, Protect Our Care chair Leslie Dach, who coordinated the Ebola response within HHS under President Obama, released the following statement: 

“President Trump and Vice President Pence’s continued focus on their personal politics instead of keeping America safe from coronavirus shows us how woefully unprepared they are to handle this crisis. On a day when the president should be laser focused on tackling coronavirus he has decided to hold a campaign rally while the vice president courts rich donors in Florida. From muzzling CDC and NIH officials to spreading misinformation, it’s clear that President Trump and Vice President Pence care more about their reelection than protecting Americans.” 

BACKGROUND

  • Tampa Bay Times: What’s on Mike Pence’s schedule as coronavirus point man? A fundraiser in Florida.
  • Washington Post: Pence Seizes Control Of Coronavirus Response Amid Criticism Of His Qualifications.
  • The Guardian: Mike Pence ‘not up to task’ of leading US coronavirus response, say experts
  • ABC News: As he leads coronavirus response, Pence criticized for handling of HIV outbreak while Indiana’s governor
  • Associated Press: Pence’s handling of 2015 HIV outbreak gets new scrutiny

Washington Post: Pence Plans To Continue His Heavy Campaign Schedule During Coronavirus Outbreak. “Pence plans to continue his heavy campaign schedule — which has often included trips to two battleground states each week, according to a senior administration official. There’s not much in Pence’s vice presidency that would indicate he will be able to command a whole-of-government response removed from political considerations, said Joel Goldstein, a professor at Saint Louis University School of Law and author of ‘The White House Vice Presidency.’” [Washington Post, 2/27/20

Associated Press: Trump Tried To Blame Democrats For Stock Market Drop In Coronavirus Press Conference. “Trump spent close to an hour discussing the virus threat, after a week of sharp stock market losses over the health crisis and concern within the administration that a growing outbreak could affect his reelection. He blamed the Democrats for the stock market slide, saying, ‘I think the financial markets are very upset when they look at the Democrat candidates standing on that stage making fools out of themselves.’ And he shifted to defend his overall record and predict a win in November.” [Associated Press, 2/27/20

Politico: President Trump And His Aides Have Been “Trying To Downplay The Situation In Hopes They Can Put A Lid On The Stock Market Tumble And Cable News Coverage Of Mounting Deaths Around The World.” “The grim news and the angst on Capitol Hill is threatening to overwhelm the messaging from President Donald Trump and some of his aides, who have been trying to downplay the situation in hopes they can put a lid on the stock market tumble and cable news coverage of mounting deaths around the world. Trump’s advisers and political allies are increasingly concerned that a botched response could hurt the U.S. economy and put his reelection prospects at risk.” [Politico, 2/25/20

Washington Post: Trump “Remains Worried Than Any Large-Scale Outbreak Could Hurt His Reelection Bid.” “The markets fell as the outbreak grew. On Jan. 31, the same day several airlines suspended flights and the United States announced its escalated response, the Dow Jones industrial average dropped 600 points, or 2 percent. Trump grew concerned that any stronger action by his administration would hurt the economy, and he has told advisers that he does not want the administration to do or say anything that would further spook the markets. He remains worried that any large-scale outbreak could hurt his reelection bid.” [Washington Post, 2/16/20

Vice President Pence Puts Politics Above Preparedness on First Day of Leading Coronavirus Response

Washington, DC — Yesterday, President Trump appointed Vice President Pence to lead the administration’s coronavirus response efforts. Less than 24 hours into his new role, Pence has already demonstrated a dangerous lack of preparedness for this critical position. In response, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach, who coordinated the Ebola response within HHS under President Obama, issued the following statement: 

“On day one of leading the administration’s coronavirus response, Vice President Pence has already chosen politics above preparedness. Before attending even one meeting on the ongoing threat of coronavirus, Pence delivered a speech at hyper partisan CPAC, muzzled the experts at CDC and NIH, and placed political loyalists like Larry Kudlow, who claimed without evidence that the virus has been contained, on his task force. The more Trump and his allies continue to play politics instead of acknowledging the severity of the situation at hand, the longer America will remain unprepared and at risk.”

BACKGROUND:

Pence Is Continuing To Downplay The Risk Of The Virus While Exaggerating The Administration’s Preparedness. “At CPAC, Pence emphasizes that only 1 new coronavirus case has been identified in the past 2 weeks. While the risk to the American public remains low, as the president said, we’re ready.” [Aaron Blake Twitter, 2/27/20

Pence Is Taking Control Of All Coronavirus Messaging (And Already Silencing Experts). “The vice president’s first move appeared to be aimed at preventing the kind of contradictory statements from White House officials and top government health officials that have plagued the administration’s response…Dr. Anthony S. Fauci, one of the country’s leading experts on viruses and the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told associates that the White House had instructed him not to say anything else without clearance.” [New York Times, 2/27/20

Larry Kudlow Falsely Claimed The Virus Was Contained. “‘We have contained this. I won’t say [it’s] air-tight, but it’s pretty close to air-tight,’ Kudlow, the National Economic Council director, said on CNBC’sThe Exchange,’ adding that while the virus was a ‘human tragedy,’ it would not be an ‘economic tragedy.’” [The Hill, 2/25/20]

Anti-Science Extremist Mike Pence Now Running Nation’s Coronavirus Response

At a press conference yesterday, President Trump announced that Vice President Mike Pence will lead the administration’s response to the deadly coronavirus. If tapping Pence was meant to ease the growing concerns about the administration’s chaotic response to the threat of a global pandemic, Pence’s extreme anti-science views and abysmal public health record did quite the opposite. To further raise questions about how seriously the administration is taking this growing threat, Pence’s first public act as the coordinator of our coronavirus response is to give a political speech at CPAC.

MIKE PENCE’S “DEFINING MOMENT” AS GOVERNOR OF INDIANA WAS ENABLING A MASSIVE HIV OUTBREAK

Pence Cut Funding To Planned Parenthood, Delayed Declaring A State Of Emergency Amid Worst HIV Outbreak In State’s History. “The worst HIV outbreak in the state’s history happened on his watch in 2015, which critics blamed on Pence’s belated response and his opposition to authorizing a needle-exchange program. In 2011, as a member of Congress, he voted to cut funding for Planned Parenthood. Two years later, a Planned Parenthood clinic that had been the only HIV-testing center in Scott County, Ind., closed after public health spending cuts, HuffPost reported. Two months passed from the start of the outbreak in 2015 before Pence declared a public state of emergency.” [Washington Post, 2/27/20

Pence On CDC’s Recommendation To Implement A Needle Exchange Program: “I Don’t Believe Effective Anti-Drug Policy Involves Handing Out Drug Paraphernalia.” “‘I don’t believe effective anti-drug policy involves handing out drug paraphernalia,’ he told the Indianapolis Star at the time. Despite assurances from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention that it is an effective way to halt the spread of infections and diseases such as HIV and hepatitis B and C, Pence said that if state lawmakers tried to send him a bill for a needle-exchange program, he would veto it.” [Washington Post, 2/27/20

Yale Researchers Found That The HIV Epidemic Could Have Been Prevented If The Pence Administration Had Acted Faster. “‘Our findings suggest that with earlier action the actual number of infections recorded in Scott County — 215 — might have been brought down to fewer than 56, if the state had acted in 2013, or to fewer than 10 infections, if they had responded to the HCV outbreak in 2010-2011. Instead they cut funding for the last HIV testing provider in the county,’ said Forrest W. Crawford, associate professor of biostatistics and of ecology and evolutionary biology, and the paper’s senior author.” [Yale News, 9/13/18

HIV Researcher Gregg Gonsalves On Pence’s Response To The Austin Outbreak: “He Waited Til It Was Too Little, Too Late.” “The initial response was slow. Pence, then governor, opposed syringe exchange programs, which were illegal in Indiana. It took him 29 days after the outbreak was announced to sign an executive order allowing a state-supervised syringe program. By then, HIV cases had risen to 79. ‘He waited till it was too little, too late. These needle exchanges were put into place in the most grudging manner,’ said Gregg Gonsalves, an HIV researcher at Yale University. ‘It was a disaster that didn’t need to happen.’” [Kaiser Health News, 2/19/20

MIKE PENCE CLAIMED THAT “SMOKING DOESN’T KILL” AS RECENTLY AS 2000

Mike Pence In 2000: “Smoking Doesn’t Kill.” “Time for a quick reality check. Despite the hysteria from the political class and the media, smoking doesn’t kill. In fact, 2 out of every three smokers does not die from a smoking related illness and 9 out of ten smokers do not contract lung cancer. This is not to say that smoking is good for you…news flash: smoking is not good for you. If you are reading this article through the blue haze of cigarette smoke you should quit.” [MikePence.com, 2000

  • Pence In 2000: “There Is No Direct ‘Scientific Causal Link Medically Identifying’ A Link Between Smoking And Lung Cancer.” “Pence’s history of promoting tobacco companies and denigrating public health campaigns against smoking came back to bite him in his 2000 congressional race. His opponent, Bob Rock, raised it in a debate. Pence responded, per a local news report Kaczyinski unearthed, by saying that ‘the article was taken out of context and that while there is no direct ‘scientific causal link medically identifying’ a link between smoking and lung cancer that was not the point of writing it.’” [Vox, 10/4/16

Pence Voted Against Allowing The FDA To Regulate Tobacco Products. Mike Pence voted against the Family Smoking Prevention and Tobacco Control Act. According to the New York Times, “More than four decades after the surgeon general declared smoking a health hazard, the Senate on Thursday cleared the final hurdle to empowering federal officials to regulate cigarettes and other forms of tobacco for the first time. The legislation, which the White House said President Obama would sign as soon as it reached his desk, will enable the Food and Drug Administration to impose potentially strict new controls on the making and marketing of products that eventually kill half their regular users. The House, which passed a similar bill in April, may vote on the Senate version as soon as Friday. ‘This is a historic step changing the nature of tobacco in society forever,’ said Clifford E. Douglas, the director of the University of Michigan Tobacco Research Network, which has extensively studied the health effects of smoking and was one of many groups that have long pushed for tobacco regulation. The Congressional Budget Office has estimated the new law would reduce youth smoking by 11 percent and adult smoking by 2 percent over the next decade, in addition to reductions already achieved through other actions, like higher taxes and smoke-free indoor space laws.” [New York Times, 6/11/09; HR 1246, Vote #187, 4/2/09]

Pence Defended The Tobacco Industry From Lawsuits Brought By States To Recoup Medical Expenses Related To Smoking. “Donald Trump’s running mate Mike Pence wrote an op-ed in 1997 equating the health risks associated with cigarettes with those associated with candy. Pence, who was a conservative radio host in Indiana at the time, was defending the tobacco industry, which had been successfully sued by some states to recoup medical expenses related to tobacco. The settlement also limited the tobacco industry from engaging in certain marketing practices. […] ‘The premise of the suit is quite creative. States are suing tobacco companies to recover the increased health care expenses incurred by Medicaid and Medicare programs from the use of cigarettes,’ writes Pence. ‘Sounds reasonable enough. If states have to bear the cost of health care for the poor and elderly, states should be able to collect from companies that contribute to bad health. The state of Indiana should have the power to recover damages from any company whose products cause an additional drain on the state’s limited healthcare resources cigarettes certainly qualify but what about candy?’” [Buzzfeed, 7/18/16

PENCE SLASHED FUNDING FOR PUBLIC HEALTH PROGRAMS AS GOVERNOR OF INDIANA 

Pence Signed Legislation That Cut Indiana’s Budget For Public Health Programs To One Of The Lowest Levels In The Country. “As governor, Pence signed legislation that cut Indiana’s budget for public health programs, despite the state’s many pressing public health problems. Indiana has a high smoking rate, high obesity rate, and high infant mortality rate. The state is ranked nearly last for both federal and state public health funding. According to Trust for America’s Health, Indiana spends just $12.40 per resident on public health. West Virginia, in contrast, spends more than $220.” [NPR, 7/21/16

Pence Cut Funding For The Indiana Tobacco Prevention And Cessation Office By $3 Million. “In 2015, Pence signed a law making it easier to create cigar bars in the state. And his administration slashed the already small amount of the tobacco tax and settlement money available for smoking prevention and cessation in 2013, well below the CDC’s recommended levels. According to the Indianapolis Business Journal, ‘Funding for Indiana Tobacco Prevention and Cessation was down to $8 million per year when Pence took office in January 2013. And within his first week, the Pence administration slashed the agency’s budget to $5 million.’ Indiana now has the highest adult smoking rates of any state in the industrial midwest region and the seventh highest smoking rate in the nation. With among the lowest tobacco taxes of any state, public health experts warn the state is ‘really in bad shape.’” [Think Progress, 7/14/16

Pence Repeatedly Voted Against Public Health Funding As A Member Of Congress. “As a member of Congress from 2001 to 2013, Pence voted against funding for health programs such as the State Children’s Health Insurance Program and the Prevention and Public Health Fund.” [NPR, 7/21/16

THE TRUMP-PENCE HEALTH AGENDA INCLUDES CUTS TO GLOBAL HEALTH FUNDING, REPEALING THE AFFORDABLE CARE ACT

THE FY2021 Budget Once Again Sought Cuts To Key Programs For Global Disease Response. In the FY2021 budget, the Trump administration proposed steep cuts to the two agencies in charge of the coronavirus response, seeking to reduce NIH funding by $3.7 billion and CDC funding by $1.29 billion. The administration previously proposed cutting global health funding in his 2020 budget from more than $10 billion to $8 billion, its lowest level since 2008. Per Foreign Policy, other Trump-backed efforts included “reducing $15 billion in national health spending and cutting the global disease-fighting operational budgets of the CDC, NSC, DHS, and HHS.” 

Pence Supports Medicaid Block Grants, Which Threatens States’ Ability to Respond to Outbreaks. Under the Trump administration’s proposed block grant, federal funding would no longer necessarily increase in response to a public health emergency. This could lead to people losing coverage and access to care, undermining prevention and treatment of diseases nationwide. 

Efforts To Repeal The ACA Would Cut Key Funding From The CDC. In 2017, Vice President Pence promised “the Obamacare nightmare is about to end.” The GOP repeal bills Pence supported would have eliminated the Affordable Care Act’s Prevention and Public Health Fund. In 2017, the Washington Post reported that this fund “provides almost $1 billion annually to CDC, now about 12 percent of CDC’s budget. It includes prevention of bioterrorism and disease outbreaks, as well as money to provide immunizations and heart-disease screenings.” The Trump administration is currently supporting a lawsuit that could repeal the ACA in its entirety, and there is no plan to maintain this funding if the courts overturn the health care law. 

Trump’s Chaos and Incompetence Leaves America Unprepared to Deal With the Threat of Coronavirus

Washington, DC — As the threat of a potential coronavirus pandemic becomes a reality America cannot ignore, it’s clear the president and his administration have no clear strategy to contain its spread. While the president continues to praise his own coronavirus response, claiming – without evidence – that the virus is “very much under control” both the CDC and FDA sounded alarms to the contrary, issuing stern warnings that the threat of a possible pandemic is inevitable.” In response to President Trump’s dismal failure to present a clear a strategy to address the threat of coronavirus, Protect Our Care Chair Leslie Dach, who coordinated the Ebola response within HHS under President Obama, issued the following statement: 

“As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, the Trump administration’s failure to prepare for a potential outbreak in the United States has left Americans vulnerable. Americans deserve clarity and direction from their leaders during a potential crisis of this magnitude, instead of the chaos and incompetence that reign supreme in this administration. From a disastrous health care agenda that includes billions of dollars in cuts to the CDC and NIH budgets, leaving strategic positions unfilled, and the fountain of disinformation coming from Trump himself, this president has left the country woefully unprepared for an outbreak of coronavirus. The president should spend less time casting blame and pointing fingers and instead take ownership and responsibility, starting by working with Congress to support robust emergency spending to properly address the threat and spread of coronavirus.”

SHOT/CHASER: Alex Azar Testifies He’s in Charge of Coronavirus Response as News Breaks That White House is Signaling Otherwise

SHOT: HHS Secretary Alex Azar Testified Today That He’s In Charge Of Managing The Coronavirus Outbreak And That Appointing A Czar To Lead The Response Would Be An ‘Oddity’: “I serve as the lead on this while it’s a public health emergency…it’s just the longstanding doctrine that this should be led by HHS with a public health emergency. It’s not actually a change. The oddity was actually what President Obama did with the Ebola response. I don’t know why they felt things weren’t working and needed to do that.” [House Appropriations Committee Subcommittee on Labor, Health and Human Services, Education, and Related Agencies Hearing, 2/26/20]

CHASER: During Azar’s Testimony, The White House Directly Undercut Azar’s Authority, Claiming That They Are In Fact Considering Appointing A Czar To Lead The Coronavirus Response. “The White House is weighing whether to appoint a coronavirus czar to coordinate the response to the spreading epidemic, according to two people familiar with the matter.” [POLITICO, 2/26/20]

HEADLINES: Trump’s “Flailing Incompetence” and Health Care Sabotage Have Corroded America’s Preparedness for a Coronavirus Outbreak

As the coronavirus continues to spread across the globe, the Trump administration’s failure to prepare for a potential pandemic in the United States has left Americans vulnerable. Experts have said the administration’s budget cuts, the president’s premature statements that everything is under control and the failure of the administration to mount a coordinated and effective response has sabotaged our ability to protect Americans from this threat. 

Trump Receives Bipartisan Condemnation On Capitol Hill Over Coronavirus Readiness And Response While White House Officials Continue To Create Confusion 

POLITICO: Coronavirus Triggers Swift Bipartisan Backlash Against Trump. “The Trump administration confronted a new threat Tuesday in the mounting coronavirus crisis: a fierce bipartisan backlash amid contradictory statements from the federal government about the severity of the outbreak. Administration officials sought to swat away concerns their emergency request for $2.5 billion to address the outbreak was inadequate, even as some Republicans joined Democrats in criticizing the amount — and slamming a lack of transparency around efforts to contain the disease on U.S. soil.” [POLITICO, 2/25/20]

Washington Post: White House Struggles To Contain Public Alarm Over Coronavirus. “The rosy sheen that Trump, Kudlow and other White House officials have tried to express about the economic impact of the coronavirus outbreak has now collided with reality: The coronavirus is spreading, quickly, to more countries. The death toll is rising, and the outbreak is wreaking havoc on global supply chains. And the White House’s efforts to contain and control government messaging on the disease have come under attack. Trump is highly concerned about the market and has encouraged aides not to give predictions that might cause further tremors.” [Washington Post, 2/26/20]

New York Times: Coronavirus Shows the Problem With Trump’s Stock Market Boasting. “There’s a reason most presidents are cautious when talking about the stock market. President Trump is learning it the hard way this week. He is, in effect, experiencing the downside of having spent the last three years personalizing much of what happens in the markets and the economy, saying that the soaring stock values under his watch are a reflection of his special ability, and a central part of his case for re-election in November. Most presidents avoid boasting about a rising stock market because they know how fragile it is, and how little control over stock prices they really have, and how stock prices can move sharply for reasons outside their control, or sometimes for no clear reason at all. The cost of claiming personal credit for stock market gains comes when you get stock market losses. And that is particularly relevant after a 7 percent drop in the S&P 500 since its peak last Wednesday, seemingly caused by a recognition on Wall Street that the spread of coronavirus could disrupt the world economy.” [New York Times, 2/26/20]

Vox: Trump Says Coronavirus Is “Under Control.” It’s Not. “Amid concerns that the US government response to the global coronavirus threat has been underwhelming, President Donald Trump minimized concerns over the novel virus while praising his decision-making and attacking his enemies over the illness…Trump has been accused of appearing to argue the virus will essentially take care of itself, tweeting that cases will diminish “as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone.” While warmer temperatures do limit the spread of certain viruses, like many that cause influenza, it isn’t clear whether the novel coronavirus is one of these. There are still many things scientists don’t understand about this coronavirus, and most experts say more research is needed in order to understand whether the weather will have any effect on transmission.” [Vox, 2/25/20]

POLITICO: Kudlow Breaks With CDC On Coronavirus: ‘We Have Contained This.’ “White House National Economic Council Director Larry Kudlow said Tuesday that the U.S. has ‘contained’ the threat of a domestic coronavirus outbreak, breaking with the warnings of officials from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention…some of his comments stood in contrast to public pronouncements from CDC officials Tuesday that painted the coronavirus’ health threat to the U.S. as the most serious it‘s been. Nancy Messonnier, who heads the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, warned that American communities need to prepare now for the possibilities of remote work, teleschooling and other provisional measures when the disease starts spreading domestically.” [POLITICO, 2/25/20]

Vox: Trump’s Flailing Incompetence Makes Coronavirus Even Scarier. “Late last week, the US government overruled objections from the Centers for Disease Control to put 14 coronavirus-infected Americans on an airplane with other healthy people. The Trump administration swiftly leaked that the president himself was mad about this decision, and that nobody told him about it at the time…it’s a confession of a stunning level of incompetence…Trump not only hasn’t personally involved himself in the details of coronavirus response (apparently too busy pardoning former Celebrity Apprentice guests), he hasn’t designated anyone to be in charge.” [Vox, 2/25/20]

Washington Post: Shortages, Confusion And Poor Communication Complicate Coronavirus Preparations. “Major U.S. hospital systems are burning through their supplies of specialized masks needed for a widespread epidemic of coronavirus, in part because federal protocols call for them to be thrown out after a single use in practice sessions, federal officials have told health-care leaders…at a tense invitation-only briefing held last week, the Department of Health and Human Services offered few answers to health-system leaders trying to prepare for wider spread of the coronavirus, according to participants.” [Washington Post, 2/25/20]

CNN: Trump Claims Coronavirus Is ‘Going To Go Away’ Despite Mounting Concerns. “The President maintained his sunny optimism about the virus that is showing signs of spreading around the world from its Chinese epicenter and is already having a huge impact on global commerce…but behind the scenes the President is less calm, and he is expressing frustration at some of the ways his administration is responding to the outbreak, sources familiar with the conversations told CNN. His mood reflects a growing realization among Trump’s staff that the coronavirus is going to pose a greater challenge than previously understood…as disquiet mounted by the hour in Washington, Trump was still not showing much concern late Monday about a virus that has infected more than 80,000 people and killed at least 2,704 worldwide and has now popped up in South Korea, Iran, Italy, Afghanistan, Kuwait and elsewhere.” [CNN, 2/25/20]

Washington Post: A Faulty CDC Coronavirus Test Delays Monitoring Of Disease’s Spread. “In a congressional hearing Tuesday, Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) pressed Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar on whether the CDC test was faulty. He denied that the test did not work. But in a news briefing that was going on about the same time, Nancy Messonnier, director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, said that she was “frustrated” about problems with the test kits and that the CDC hoped to send out a new version to state and local health departments soon.” [Washington Post, 2/25/20]

Washington Post: Market Plunge Over Coronavirus Fears Underscores Political Risk To Trump. “The Trump administration’s disjointed handling of the outbreak has faced mounting criticism as the president’s allies have scrambled to take preventive steps while seeking to reassure the public, at times struggling to explain their decisions and offer a consistent message…for a president who has governed ‘by tweet and circus,’ a potential global health crisis that blunts economic growth could expose one of Trump’s main weaknesses as he prepares to face voters in November.” [Washington Post, 2/24/20]

Washington Post: Behind Our Sluggish Response To Coronavirus, An Unnecessary Battle Over Funding. ”The White House appears to have informed Democrats that they want to fund the emergency response in part by taking money from a program that funds low-income home heating assistance. A document that the Trump administration sent to Congress, which we have seen, indicates that the administration is transferring $37 million to emergency funding for the coronavirus response from the Low Income Home Energy Assistance Program, or LIHEAP, which funds heating for poor families.” [Washington Post, 2/25/20

Meanwhile, Global Health Experts Are Warning That Trump Has Left America Unprepared For An “Inevitable” Outbreak

POLITICO: U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak Inevitable, CDC Official Says. “A coronavirus outbreak in the United States is now inevitable, a top CDC official said Tuesday, elevating concerns that the public health emergency could soon become a full-scale pandemic. ‘Ultimately, we will see community spread in this country,’ Nancy Messonnier, the director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases told reporters on a call. ‘It’s not a question of if but rather a question of when and how many people in this country will have severe illness.’” [POLITICO, 2/25/20]

STAT: CDC Expects ‘Community Spread’ Of Coronavirus, As Top Official Warns Disruptions Could Be ‘Severe.’ “The CDC urged American businesses and families to start preparing for the possibility of a bigger outbreak. Messonnier said that parents should ask their children’s schools about plans for closures. Businesses should consider whether they can offer telecommuting options to their employees, while hospitals might need to look into expanding telehealth services, she said.” [STAT, 2/25/20]

CNN: The Government Had A Model For Handling Ebola. Trump Has Ditched It. “Never interested in government details, President Donald Trump now wants to purge officials of dubious loyalty. Wall Street is reminding Americans a weakened executive branch carries risks. The two-day plunge in financial markets reflects growing alarm over the threat coronavirus poses to the economy. Containing that threat depends in large part on the skillfulness of the Trump administration’s response in concert with governments abroad. That response has not inspired much confidence this week, even as the number of known coronavirus cases in the US remains small.” [CNN, 2/26/20

Bloomberg: Opinion: Trump Laid The Groundwork For A Coronavirus Mess. “It’s hard to imagine a president doing more to make himself vulnerable to damage from a viral outbreak than Donald Trump has over the last three years…which is just an introduction to Trump’s budgets…Trump’s name is on them, which means that when he regularly (for example) demands large cuts in the agencies responsible for fighting epidemics, he’s vulnerable to political attacks.” [Jonathan Bernstein, Bloomberg, 2/25/20

POLITICO: Trump Faces ‘Black Swan’ Threat To The Economy And Reelection. “President Donald Trump’s top aides faced an increasingly urgent threat Monday with potentially monumental implications: a global outbreak knocking down the U.S. economy and walloping markets in an election year, all against accusations about whether the Trump administration had mismanaged and underfunded a critical response with American lives on the line…with the possibility of a U.S. outbreak growing by the day, Trump allies and advisers have grown increasingly worried that a botched coronavirus response will hit the U.S. economy.” [POLITICO, 2/24/20]

Vanity Fair: Trump Has Already Hamstrung The U.S.’s Coronavirus Response. “The White House is expected to request emergency funding from Congress this week to support its response to the coronavirus, as critics take aim at the administration’s characteristic disorganization in dealing with the crisis and how past budget cuts may have left the country less prepared to tackle it. The amount the administration will seek is not yet clear, but according to Politico, it could be as little as $1 billion—far less than experts say is necessary to fight what the World Health Organization warned is not yet, but could become, a pandemic.” [Vanity Fair, 2/25/20]

CNN: Opinion: Under Trump, America Is Less Prepared For A Coronavirus Outbreak. “…President Donald Trump has taken actions that many doctors and experts agree will leave the US less prepared to respond to COVID-19…he’s shown his antipathy toward addressing health emergencies like this one, most recently in his proposed 2021 budget for the Department of Health and Human Services, which would cut $3 billion from response and preparedness funds.” [Chelsea Clinton and Devi Sridhar, CNN, 2/24/20]

New York Magazine: Why The Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Response Continues To Raise Concerns. “On Saturday, Politico reported that the White House is planning to ask Congress for emergency funds to handle coronavirus in the United States. The sum, however, could be as little as $1 billion, which public-health experts believe would be drained all too quickly by vaccine research and lab tests. (To compare to a recent health crisis, the Obama administration requested $6 billion in emergency funding for the 2014 Ebola outbreak and eventually received $5.4 billion.) Though Democrats in Congress have pushed the administration to call for emergency coronavirus funding since early February, Politico states that ‘White House officials have been hesitant to press Congress for additional funding, with some hoping that the virus would burn itself out by the summer.’” [New York Magazine, 2/24/20]

Coronavirus: Trump vs. Reality

Despite President Trump repeatedly claiming that the spread of coronavirus in the United States is “under control,” reality would beg to differ. Today, the CDC issued a dire warning to Americans that an outbreak of coronavirus is “inevitable,” as experts and lawmakers pan the Trump administration’s readiness for such an event. What’s been made clear today is that Trump’s rosy rhetoric is geared toward propping up the stock market and his reelection chances and simply does not match the grim reality of the situation at hand. 

Trump Reality
Coronavirus Is “Very Well Under Control In Our Country.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New Delhi, India, 2/25/20U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak Inevitable, CDC Official Says. [Politico, 2/25/20
“I Think That We’re Doing A Great Job.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New Delhi, India, 2/25/20Trump’s Flailing Incompetence Makes Coronavirus Even Scarier. [Vox, 2/25/20
“We’re Down To Probably About 10 [Cases]. Most Of The People Are Outside Of Danger Right Now.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New Delhi, India, 2/25/2053 People In The U.S. Diagnosed With Coronavirus. [Axios, 2/25/20
“I Was Right” About Coronavirus Response. [@realDonaldTrump, 2/25/20Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response. [Foreign Policy, 1/31/20
“Stock Market Starting To Look Very Good To Me!” [@realDonaldTrump, 2/24/20U.S. Stocks Plunge As Coronavirus Crisis Spreads. [New York Times, 2/24/20
“We Have It Very Much Under Control In This Country.”  [Donald Trump, Remarks Before Marine One Departure, Washington, DC, 2/23/20] Coronavirus-Infected Americans Flown Home Against CDC’s Advice. [Washington Post, 2/20/20]  
“It’s Going To Work Out Fine.” [KSAZ, 2/19/20Trump Has Already Hamstrung The U.S.’s Coronavirus Response. [Vanity Fair, 2/24/20
“Everyone Is Saying We Did A Good Job.” [Donald Trump, Remarks to the National Border Patrol Council, Washington, DC, 2/14/20Why the Trump Administration’s Coronavirus Response Continues To Raise Concerns. [New York Magazine, 2/24/20
“We’re In Very Good Shape.” [Donald Trump, Remarks to the National Border Patrol Council, Washington, DC, 2/14/20US Underprepared For Coronavirus Due To Trump Cuts, Say Health Experts. [The Guardian, 1/31/20
“We Think And We Hope, Based On All Signs That The Problem Goes Away In April.” [Geraldo in Cleveland, 2/13/20CDC Contradicts Trump’s Prediction That Coronavirus Will ‘Miraculously’ Go Away by April. [Daily Best, 2/14/20
“The Virus Is Going To Be — It’s Going To Be Fine.” [Fox Business, 2/10/20The Coronavirus Gives Trump His Biggest Outbreak Emergency Yet — And Experts Are Worried. [Stat, 1/28/20
“We’re In Great Shape.” [Donald Trump, Remarks to the Governors’ Business Session, Washington, DC, 2/10/20Coronavirus Is Coming—And Trump Isn’t Ready. [The Atlantic, 1/30/20

View the chart online here

SHOT/CHASER: Donald Trump vs. His Administration: President Claims Coronavirus is “Under Control” While CDC Warns Americans to Brace for “Inevitable” Outbreak

SHOT: Trump Praised His Own Coronavirus Response Today at a Press Conference: “I Think That We’re Doing A Great Job” And Claimed “We Have It Very Much Under Control In This Country.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New Delhi, India, 2/25/20

CHASER: Hours Later, The CDC Warns The Spread Of Coronavirus In The U.S. Is Not A Question Of If, But When. “Americans should brace for the likelihood that the coronavirus will spread to communities in the United States, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention warned Tuesday. ‘It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen,’ said Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases.” [New York Times, 2/25/20

  • U.S. Coronavirus Outbreak Inevitable, CDC Official Says. “A coronavirus outbreak in the United States is now inevitable, a top CDC official said Tuesday, elevating concerns that the public health emergency could soon become a full-scale pandemic.” [POLITICO, 2/25/20]

BACKGROUND: 

TRUMP ON THE CORONAVIRUS IN HIS OWN WORDS TODAY:

February 25, 2020: Trump Said Coronavirus Is “Very Well Under Control In Our Country.” “You ask about the coronavirus, which is very well under  control in our country. We have very few people with it, and the people that have it are, in all cases, I have not heard anything other — maybe there’s something new.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New Delhi, India, 2/25/20

February 25, 2020: Trump On Coronavirus Response: “I Think That We’re Doing A Great Job.” “I think that we’re doing a great job. I felt that — and the decision was made in Japan, let these Americans come back. We’ll see how they are, but they were immediately put into quarantine. There’s no problem whatsoever, they’re quarantined. We approved — I approved — $2.5 billion for just that purpose and also for working at getting a vaccine.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New Delhi, India, 2/25/20

Trump: “We’re Down To Probably About 10 [Cases]. Most Of The People Are Outside Of Danger Right Now.” “They were in between countries where people weren’t going to take them, and they’re Americans. They’re fully quarantined. They call it ‘fully quarantined.’ We did the right thing. If you were out there and you were an American and you refuse to have any help from your country, these were wonderful people. It wasn’t their fault. We’re down to…we’re really down to probably about 10. Most of the people are outside of danger right now. We’ve had a very strict line on the people we’re taking and the areas from which we’ll take, and I did it very early. It’s never done before and I did it early. I think it was a good decision, as it turned out.” [Donald Trump, Press Conference, New Delhi, India, 2/25/20]

SHOT/CHASER: Trump’s Junk Insurance Plans Meet Coronavirus 

SHOT: At the State of the Union, Trump touted his administration’s expansion of short-term junk plans, while also falsely repeating his claim that he will protect people with pre-existing conditions.”

CHASER: Florida man covered by Trump-backed short-term plan “may owe thousands” after seeking test for coronavirus. 

Miami Herald: A Miami Man Who Flew To China Worried He Might Have Coronavirus. He May Owe Thousands. “Hospital officials at Jackson told the Miami Herald that, based on his insurance, Azcue would only be responsible for $1,400 of that bill, but Azcue said he heard from his insurer that he would also have to provide additional documentation: three years of medical records to prove that the flu he got didn’t relate to a pre-existing condition. While Azcue’s experience shows the potential cost of testing for a disease that epidemiologists fear may develop into a public health crisis in the U.S., one insurance expert sees the episode as a cautionary tale about the potential risks associated with deregulation in the insurance market.” [Miami Herald, 2/24/20

  • “In 2018, President Donald Trump’s administration rolled back Affordable Care Act regulations and allowed so-called “junk plans” in the market. Consumers mistakenly assume that the plans with lower monthly costs will be better than no insurance at all in case of a medical catastrophe, but often the plans aren’t very different from going without insurance altogether.” [Miami Herald, 2/24/20

 

Mr. President, Remember What Happened to Dean Heller?

Shadow of the Former Senator’s Failed Re-election Campaign and His Support for Trump’s Disastrous Health Care Record Looms Large Over the President’s Rally in Las Vegas Today 

Washington, DC — President Trump is holding a campaign rally in Las Vegas, Nevada today, his first since failing to re-elect former Senator Dean Heller in the 2018 midterms. Voters rejected Dean Heller because of his support for Trump’s disastrous health care agenda, and it’s clear voters haven’t forgotten Trump’s war on health care that puts Nevadans at risk when he takes the stage tonight. Ahead of Trump’s rally, Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement:

“Nevadans won’t hear about President Trump’s disastrous and unpopular health care record at his rally today. President Trump continues to lie when he claims that he has ‘saved’ protections for people with pre-existing conditions and would never take away Medicaid benefits. The truth is that the president’s disastrous Texas lawsuit would strip protections from more than 1.2 million Nevadans with pre-existing conditions and his budget cuts hundreds of millions of dollars from Medicaid, jeopardizing coverage for millions of children, seniors and veterans across the country. Nevadan’s already rejected President Trump’s disastrous health care agenda when they ousted Senator Dean Heller in 2018, and in November, they will take their frustration to the ballot box and reject President Trump once and for all.”

BACKGROUND:

Trump Stood By Heller, But Voters Knew Better

October 20, 2018: Trump: “There’s No Better Partner That I Had In Washington Than Dean Heller.” “I got to know Dean very well. And I’ll tell you, once we understood each other — and he’s a tough guy and he’s a smart guy and he loves this state a lot — once we really got to know each other and understand, there’s no better partner that I had in Washington than Dean Heller. And he’s a fantastic guy with an incredible family, wife, who I just — we just flew in together. But when it came to tax cuts, there was nobody tougher, there was nobody smarter. When it came to all of the things we’re doing, including what we’re doing, we got rid of the individual mandate, which is the worst, most unpopular thing from Obamacare.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Elko, NV, 10/20/18] 

September 20, 2018: Trump: “Dean Heller Is Going To Be With Us All The Time.” “Dean Heller, is going to be with us all the time. Come on up here, Dean! Come on up here, Dean. Dean Heller. […] Thank you, Dean. Thank you, Dean. And Dean really is a — a champion, and I can tell you, I work with him. He’s a champion for our workers, our families, and for our veterans. And we have to keep him.” [Donald Trump, Rally, Las Vegas, NV, 9/20/18

Trump-Backed Texas Lawsuit Would Devastate Nevadans

If Trump Gets His Way, Nevadans Would Lose Their Coverage

  • 282,000 Nevadans Could Lose Coverage. According to the Urban Institute, 282,000 Nevadans would lose coverage by repealing the Affordable Care Act, leading to a 75 percent increase in the uninsured rate.
  • 19,000 Nevada Young Adults With Their Parents’ Coverage Could Lose Care. Because of the Affordable Care Act, millions of young adults are able to stay on their parents’ care until age 26.
  • 74,000 Nevada Children Could Lose Their Coverage. Almost three million children nationwide gained coverage thanks to the ACA. If the law is overturned, many of these children will lose their insurance.
  • 95,900 Nevada Latinos Could Lose Coverage. The percentage of people gaining health insurance under the ACA was higher for Latinos than for any other racial or ethnic group in the country. According to a study from Families USA, 5.4 million Latinos nationwide would lose coverage if the lawsuit succeeds in overturning the ACA.
  • 211,700 Nevadans Enrolled Through Medicaid Expansion Could Lose Coverage. Seventeen million people have coverage through the expanded Medicaid program, including 211,700 in Nevada.

If Trump Gets His Way, Insurance Companies Would Be Put Back In Charge, Ending Protections For The 135 Million People Nationwide With A Pre-Existing Condition

  • 1,258,000 Nevadans Have A Pre-existing Condition, including 163,100 Nevada children, 620,000 Nevada women, and 285,900 Nevadans between ages 55 and 64.