Washington, DC — Tomorrow, President Trump will tour a medical equipment distribution center in Allentown, Pennsylvania in a blatant attempt to rewrite his disastrous response to the coronavirus. President Trump’s handling of the coronavirus response is already deeply unpopular with Pennsylvanians, who overwhelmingly trust their governor and local leaders more than the president to deal with the pandemic. Protect Our Care Executive Director Brad Woodhouse released the following statement ahead of the president’s trip:

“From the start of this crisis, President Trump has failed to get local officials and medical professionals in Pennsylvania and across the country the equipment and resources they need to adequately fight this pandemic. However, long before the coronavirus came to our shores, Donald Trump’s sabotage of our health care system left us woefully unprepared. At a time when access to health care has never been more critical, President Trump supports the lawsuit to rip coverage from 20 million more Americans, including more than 850,000 Pennsylvanians, and throw the health care system into chaos as the country grapples with this crisis and as deaths and infections continue to rise. It’s no wonder that Pennsylvanians overwhelmingly trust their local leaders more than Trump when it comes to their health and safety during this crisis.”

BACKGROUND:

How Trump Is Making The Coronavirus Worse For Pennsylvanians 

President Trump has helped fuel the coronavirus crisis in Pennsylvania. Between downplaying the outbreak and failing to meet the needs of the health care system, Trump has failed Pennsylvanians and people across the country. Making matters worse, Trump failed to meet the state’s dire need for assistance. 

Where Pennsylvania Stands: 

Number Of Pennsylvania Cases Reported: 57,991
Number Of Pennsylvania Deaths: 3,806
Total Number Of People Tested In Pennsylvania: 295,980

Trump Aid Fell Short Of Pennsylvania Needs:

Governor Wolf Said Trump’s Disaster Relief Fell Short Of The State’s Need. “President Donald Trump on Tuesday approved a major disaster declaration for Pennsylvania that Gov. Tom Wolf said fell short of the full assistance he requested to help the state and its residents during the coronavirus pandemic.’We are grateful for federal funding that will support all levels of government as we work together to stop the spread, and support those who care for the ill,’ Wolf said in a statement, ‘but I remain unwavering in my call for the approval of the rest of my request, which will provide more direct support to our friends and neighbors who are facing financial difficulties that otherwise could be insurmountable.’” [Ellwood City Ledger, 3/31/20

  • Trump’s Approval Failed To Include Critical Assistance For Pennsylvanians. “Wolf said the declaration did not address his request for assistance through Individual Assistance programs, Disaster Unemployment Assistance, Crisis Counseling, Community Disaster Loans and Disaster Supplemental Nutrition Program and Statewide Hazard Mitigation.”

Trump’s Coronavirus Response Has Made Pennsylvania Less Safe

The Trump Administration Failed To Secure Testing. After the Trump administration decided not to use tests adopted by the World Health Organization, the CDC experienced errors and delays with their own tests. The lack of tests meant public health officials could not use surveillance testing to monitor the virus’ spread. On March 30, 2020, Trump claimed that he had not “heard about testing being a problem” in weeks, despite multiple state and local officials ringing the alarm about a lack of testing on a daily basis. 

Trump Refused To Authorize The Defense Production Act Until It Was Too Late. Trump waited until hospitals were already experiencing severe shortages of life-saving equipment to invoke the Defense Production Act. Had Trump acted two months ago, experts and Ford’s own timeline agree that critical supplies would already be in production. Because Trump delayed acting, necessary equipment is unlikely before June. 

Trump Cut Key Positions To Help Pandemic Prevention Efforts. In 2018, the Trump administration dismantled the entire global health security unit at the National Security Council, reassigning its leader, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer, a long-time public health official who had served under both the Bush and Obama administrations. Additionally, Tom Bossert, another key official for infectious disease preparedness and biodefense strategy, left that same year. No one has since filled these positions. In 2017, the Washington Post reported that Trump had “failed to fill crucial public health positions across the government, leaving the nation ill-prepared” for a global pandemic. Trump tried to cut the global health section of the CDC, laying off staff and closing 80% of epidemic prevention activities that were designed to combat public health crises like this one. Trump also eliminated a key CDC position focused on detecting disease outbreaks in China and cut the staff at the Beijing office of the CDC by two thirds. 

Trump Has Repeatedly Ignored Experts And Spread Misinformation About The Outbreak. Dating back to January, Trump ignored warnings about the crisis and sought to downplay the crisis. He falsely claimed the virus would disappear by April, and repeatedly said the USA was in “very good shape” in hopes of calming the markets. In February, Donald Trump cut HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s budget request to buy respirator masks and other supplies for the national stockpile by 75 percent. Now a mask shortage is forcing health care workers in Pennsylvania to go without critical protective equipment.

By Late March, It Became Clear Pennsylvania Was Facing An Unprecedented Health Crisis:

Testing Failures

Philadelphia Inquirer: Experts Say That Much Of The Coronavirus’ Spread “Is Due To Shortages That Have Forced Health Officials To Ration Testing.” “The coronavirus is taking ever deeper roots in the Philadelphia region and across the country, and much of that spread, experts say, is due to shortages that have forced health officials to ration testing. But the problems go deeper than a lack of test kits. Potentially infected patients are supposed to start the process of getting tested with their health-care provider, but many family physicians and urgent care clinics report not having the protective gear or the protocols needed to safely and correctly swab patients’ noses and throats, then ship the specimens to labs.” [Philadelphia Inquirer, 3/13/20

Overwhelmed Hospitals

Gov. Tom Wolf Warned: “Our Hospitals Will Soon Be Overwhelmed.” “Gov. Tom Wolf said Wednesday the rising number of coronavirus cases poses a substantial challenge to Pennsylvania’s hospitals. If cases continue growing exponentially, Wolf said, ‘Our hospitals will soon be overwhelmed.’” [PennLive, 3/25/20

Dr. Rachel Levine, Pennsylvania’s Secretary Of Health, Warned That “If We Do Not All Stay Home And Stay Safe, Then We Will See The Worst-Case Scenario.” Health Secretary Dr. Rachel Levine said Tuesday continued social distancing is needed to ensure hospitals aren’t overwhelmed…Levine said, “If we do not all stay home and stay safe, then we will see the worst-case scenario in all of these models, including the potential overwhelming of our health care systems.” [Penn Live, 3/31/20] 

Supply Shortages

“The Biggest Concern In Pennsylvania This Week Is A Looming Shortage Of Life-Saving Supplies And Healthy Medical Workers Needed To Treat A Surge Of Coronavirus Patients.” [York Daily Record, 3/24/20

Pennsylvania Health Care Workers Said There’s A Shortage Of Personal Protective Equipment.The Pennsylvania Healthcare Association, which represents Donna and thousands of other health care workers around the state are demanding the federal government release masks and equipment from the national stockpile, produce new supplies, and make sure frontline workers have easy access to testing.” [CBS 21, 3/30/20]

Registered Nurse In Northeastern Pennsylvania Said That Workers At Her Nursing Home Do Not Have Surgical Gowns And Were Being Told To Reuse Paper Masks. “Donna, a registered nurse for more than 30 years, works at a nursing home in northeastern Pennsylvania. She says three coworkers recently tested positive for COVID-19. Donna also says workers don’t have surgical gowns and are being told to reuse paper masks for a week and keep them in paper bags when they’re not using them. She says in her three decades as a nurse, she never imagined she’d be facing a pandemic like the one we’re in now. ’It’s frightening. It’s a very scary situation. As frontline workers, we are fighting against an invisible enemy and yet so little is being done to protect us,’ Donna said.” [CBS 21, 3/30/20]