CNN has this comment…
And we have the first U.S. governor to get the coronavirus.
Oklahoma Gov. Kevin Stitt announces he has tested positive for coronavirus
PS: I checked; he was in Tulsa for the rally.
Fauci: ‘Bizarre’ White House Behavior Only Hurts the President
“Ultimately, it hurts the president to do that,” Fauci told The Atlantic in a series of interviews this week. “When the staff lets out something like that and the entire scientific and press community push back on it, it ultimately hurts the president.”
He described the White House attacks against him as “nonsense” and “completely wrong.” He also seemed dismayed that they are coming at a time when COVID-19 is surging across the country, deaths are once again rising, and Americans remain deeply confused about how to keep themselves and their loved ones safe.
Targeting Fauci seems like a tragic misuse of White House time and energy if officials’ aim is to defeat the coronavirus. But Trump appears more concerned with discrediting Fauci. Over the weekend, the White House sent multiple news outlets a document that smacked of opposition research. It carried a list of statements Fauci had made about COVID-19, purporting to show that he had contradicted himself about the outbreak and that he “has been wrong on things.” In one example from an NBC interview in February, the White House omitted Fauci’s full quote, giving the impression that he’d misjudged the outbreak’s danger. Peter Navarro, Trump’s top trade adviser, wrote an op-ed for USA Today yesterday claiming that Fauci has been “wrong about everything I have interacted with him on.” (A Trump communications aide tried to distance the White House from the op-ed this morning.)
Another attack and slander story from this administration. I think this is the third story of this nature I’ve read this morning. It’s so transparent and boring. Refusing to govern, our executive branch seems more concerned about casting blame than doing their jobs to protect Americans. Shameful
This is insane.
The Trump administration is directing hospitals to use a new platform to report COVID-19 data instead of an existing system at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
I’m sure this isn’t nefarious plot to cover up how badly they’re handling ALL OF THIS.
Looks like there is already data missing on the new HHS transfer from the hospitals, in lieu of going directly to CDC according the the Covid Exit Strategy website.
Since the pandemic began, the CDC has regularly published data on availability of hospital beds and intensive care units across the country.
But Ryan Panchadsaram, who helps run a data-tracking site called Covid Exit Strategy, said that when he tried to collect the data from the CDC on Tuesday, it had disappeared.
When reached for comment Thursday by CNBC, HHS spokesman Michael Caputo said in a statement that the CDC was directed to make the data available again.
Previously public data has already disappeared from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s website after the Trump administration quietly shifted control of the information to the Department of Health and Human Services.
Since the pandemic began, the CDC regularly published data on availability of hospital beds and intensive care units across the country. But Ryan Panchadsaram, who helps run a data-tracking site called Covid Exit Strategy, said that when he tried to collect the data from the CDC on Tuesday, it had disappeared.
“We were surprised because the modules that we normally go to were empty. The data wasn’t available and not there,” he said. “There was no warning.”
CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield told reporters on a conference call Wednesday that states were told to stop sending hospital information to the National Healthcare Safety Network site, the CDC’s system for gathering data, beginning Wednesday. Instead, all data will now be reported through HHS’ reporting portal, officials said, adding that the decision was made to streamline data reporting and to provide HHS officials with real-time data.
Public health specialists and former health officials acknowledged that the CDC’s data reporting infrastructure was limited, and said it needs to be overhauled to meet the demands of the Covid-19 pandemic. However, they expressed concern in interviews with CNBC that the change could lead to less transparent data.
When reached for comment Thursday by CNBC, HHS spokesman Michael Caputo said in a statement that the CDC was directed to make the data available again. In the future, he said, HHS will provide “more powerful insights.”
July 15 - ICU and Bed Occupancy - Not Publicly Reported by CDC Anymore
Unfortunately our data source for ICUs and beds has been removed by the CDC. Our hope is this loss of critical public health information is temporary. HHS is instituting a new process for collecting information from hospitals. The aggregate data from that system should be made public.
The lengths to which Governor Hogan (R - MD) went to get Covid - 19 testing materials was a hero’s journey…and all the rebuttals he got from T and Pence…were petty and vindictive.
You can apparently count Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan ® among the solid majority of Americans who are unimpressed with President Trump’s COVID-19 response. In a brutal Quinnipiac University poll released Wednesday, for example, 62 percent of registered voters said Trump is hurting the effort to fight COVID-19, while 67 percent said they don’t trust the information he shares about the disease. Unlike most Americans, though, Hogan has a front-row seat to Trump’s response, both as a governor and chairman of the National Governors Association.
Hogan published a detailed, withering critique of Trump’s response in an op-ed Thursday in Trump’s least-favorite newspaper, The Washington Post . He started with the extraordinary effort he and his Korean-born wife, Yumi Hogan, made to fly 500,000 COVID-19 tests in from South Korea in April, sending them into safe hiding under armed guard because “the federal government had recently seized 3 million N95 masks purchased by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker.”
I’m a GOP governor. Why didn’t Trump help my state with coronavirus testing?
My wife, Yumi, and I stood on the tarmac, waiting in cloth masks, on the morning of April 18. Finally, a Boeing 777 landed and taxied to the far corner of Baltimore-Washington International Marshall Airport. It was the first Korean Air flight ever to land at BWI, but it didn’t have a single passenger aboard. The crew of five had flown 14 hours, straight from Seoul.
“Congratulations, honey,” I told Yumi as the pilot turned off the engines. “You helped save a lot of lives.”
The plane was filled with 500,000 test kits for my state, where the coronavirus had already infected 12,308 Marylanders and killed 463 of them. The numbers were still climbing, and we would never be able to contain them without mass testing. “Anybody that wants a test can get a test,” President Trump had declared the previous month. In reality, only 2,252 Americans had been tested at that point in March. Across the country, my fellow governors were desperately pleading for help on testing. But in early April, Trump said it was the states’ job.
Yumi was born and raised in South Korea, a country that had, by then, erected a well-coordinated testing regime. So, with nowhere else to turn, Yumi and I asked President Moon Jae-in for help. He arranged the sale of a half-million test kits from LabGenomics, one of the world’s leading medical testing firms, for $9 million. It was a bargain considering the $2.8 billion in revenue we projected the pandemic would cost Maryland.
Now the kits had arrived. The crew members came down together, walked over and stopped six feet away. Yumi bowed, and the crew bowed in return. Following their lead, so did I. Then a caravan of Maryland National Guard trucks escorted by the Maryland State Police drove the tests from the airport to a refrigerated, secure warehouse at an undisclosed location. The federal government had recently seized 3 million N95 masks purchased by Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker. We weren’t going to let Washington stop us from helping Marylanders.
This should not have been necessary. I’d watched as the president downplayed the outbreak’s severity and as the White House failed to issue public warnings, draw up a 50-state strategy, or dispatch medical gear or lifesaving ventilators from the national stockpile to American hospitals. Eventually, it was clear that waiting around for the president to run the nation’s response was hopeless; if we delayed any longer, we’d be condemning more of our citizens to suffering and death. So every governor went their own way, which is how the United States ended up with such a patchwork response. I did the best I could for Maryland. Here’s what we saw and heard from Washington along the way.
Trump’s first public utterance about the coronavirus set the tone for everything that followed. He was in Davos, Switzerland, on Jan. 22, after the first American diagnosis. “Are there worries about a pandemic at this point?” asked CNBC anchor Joe Kernen.
“We have it totally under control,” Trump responded unhesitatingly. “It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.” And off the president went for the next eight weeks. The rest of January and February were peppered with cheerful or sarcastic comments and tweets, minimizing the outbreak’s severity and the need for Americans to do much of anything.
Only days after his first dismissal, we got our first scare in Maryland. A traveler who’d been in China landed at BWI with sniffles, coughs and lung distress. The passenger tested negative, but we were already making decisions in the governor’s office about how we should react when the first positive cases arrived. “It won’t be long,” I assured our team.
So many nationwide actions could have been taken in those early days but weren’t. While other countries were racing ahead with well-coordinated testing regimes, the Trump administration bungled the effort. The test used by the federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention early on was fraught with inaccuracies, and onerous regulations hindered the nation’s private labs. The resulting disorganization would delay mass testing for almost two months and leave the nation largely in the dark as the epidemic spread.
Meanwhile, instead of listening to his own public health experts, the president was talking and tweeting like a man more concerned about boosting the stock market or his reelection plans.
America’s governors took a different approach. In early February, we descended on Washington for the annual winter meeting of the National Governors Association. As chairman, I had worked closely with the staff for months assembling the agenda, including a private, governors-only briefing at our hotel, the Marriott Marquis, to address the growing viral threat. We brought in Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who was already widely admired but whose awesome knowledge and straight-talking style hadn’t yet made him a national rock star; CDC head Robert Redfield; Ken Cuccinelli, the acting deputy secretary of homeland security; Jay Butler, the CDC’s deputy director for infectious diseases; and Robert Kadlec, assistant secretary for preparedness and response at the Department of Health and Human Services.
They hit us with detailed presentations and the unfiltered truth, as well as it was known then. I remember hearing many dire claims: “This could be catastrophic. . . . The death toll could be significant. . . . Much more contagious than SARS. . . . Testing will be crucial. . . . You have to follow the science — that’s where the answers lie.”
It was jarring, the huge contrast between the experts’ warnings and the president’s public dismissals. Weren’t these the people the White House was consulting about the virus? What made the briefing even more chilling was its clear, factual tone. It was a harrowing warning of an imminent national threat, and we took it seriously — at least most of us did. It was enough to convince almost all the governors that this epidemic was going to be worse than most people realized.
During the retreat in D.C., the Republican Governors Association sponsored a private dinner with the president. Backstage beforehand, I said hello to him. We took a photo together. He was perfectly cordial, even though we’d criticized each other in the past. Then he came out and gave one of his unscripted rally speeches that seemed to go on at least an hour too long. I don’t remember him mentioning the virus, but he talked about how much he respected President Xi Jinping of China; how much he liked playing golf with his buddy “Shinzo,” Prime Minister Abe of Japan; how well he got along with North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un.
Then, the jarring part: Trump said he really didn’t like dealing with President Moon from South Korea. The South Koreans were “terrible people,” he said, and he didn’t know why the United States had been protecting them all these years. “They don’t pay us,” Trump complained.
Yumi was sitting there as the president hurled insults at her birthplace. I could tell she was hurt and upset. I know she wanted to walk out. But she sat there politely and silently.
T he next night, Saturday, Lee Soo-hyuck, the South Korean ambassador to the United States, hosted a reception at his official residence for all the governors and their spouses. Yumi had worked with the ambassador to plan the event. Moon delivered a video message, welcoming the governors and thanking them for Korea’s very special relationship with the United States.
Speaking in Korean with English subtitles, he said how proud he was of Yumi as the first Korean American first lady in the United States. Then he referred to me as the son-in-law of the Korean people. It meant a lot to us to hear him say that, though it would take a couple of months before we would learn just how much his warmth would truly mean to the people of my state.
In the days and weeks that followed, as the coronavirus hit Maryland, we worked frantically, issuing executive orders, holding news conferences, calling other governors and federal infectious-disease experts, talking to local officeholders, strategizing with my senior staff — and constantly sanitizing our hands.
But the president was all over the place. He avowed, falsely, that “anybody” could get a test, even as my fellow governors were desperately pleading for help on testing. Then he shifted from boasting to blame. “We inherited a very obsolete system” from the Obama administration, he claimed, conveniently ignoring the fact that his own CDC had designed the troubled U.S. testing system and that his own Food and Drug Administration had waited a full month before allowing U.S. hospital labs to develop their own tests. On March 25, the president was back to bragging again. “We now are doing more testing than anybody by far,” including South Korea, whose widespread testing program was being praised around the world. This was true in absolute numbers, since we are a much bigger country, but we’d tested far fewer per capita than the Koreans had — 1,048 tests per million people vs. South Korea’s 6,764 per million — and of course that was the only figure that mattered. During one White House briefing in late March, Trump said the issue had been dealt with. “I haven’t heard about testing for weeks,” the president insisted.
As Trump was making these comments, I was requesting his approval to conduct joint testing at the National Institutes of Health. I even called Francis Collins, the head of NIH, to make this request, but he stopped me before I could. Not to argue but to plead: “Actually, Governor,” he said, “I’m glad you called, because I was going to ask you for help.” At NIH headquarters, he explained, his people had the capacity to perform only 72 tests a day. “I don’t even have enough tests for my immune-compromised patients or for my staff,” he said. He wondered if I might prevail upon Johns Hopkins, whose Suburban Hospital is across the street from NIH, to do some testing for him.
I could only shake my head at that. The federal government — a much bigger and better-funded institution, with tens of thousands of scientists and physicians in the civil service — wanted my help! Governors always do the hard work, make the tough decisions and take the political heat. But an undertaking as large as a national testing program required Washington’s help. We expected something more than constant heckling from the man who was supposed to be our leader.
Trump soon disabused us of that expectation. On April 6, he declared that testing wasn’t Washington’s responsibility after all. “States can do their own testing,” he said. “We’re the federal government. We’re not supposed to stand on street corners doing testing.”
It was hopeless, waiting around for him. Governors were being told that we were on our own. It was sink or swim. And if I didn’t do something dramatic, we simply would not come close to having enough tests in Maryland.
Luckily, I had a special ally on my side: Yumi Hogan.
We’d all seen how South Korea, hard hit at first by the virus, conquered its outbreak with a swift program of social distancing, testing and contact tracing. Yumi was almost a celebrity in her home country. (I remembered the cheering people waiting on the sidewalk once outside our hotel in Seoul: “First lady! First lady!”) And hadn’t Moon recently called me a Korean son-in-law? Maybe the Koreans would be willing to help.
On Saturday, March 28, I asked Yumi to join me on a call with Ambassador Lee. We spoke about the special relationship between Maryland and Korea, and Yumi made a personal plea in Korean, asking for the nation’s help.
That request set in motion what we called Operation Enduring Friendship, 22 days of vetting, testing and negotiating an unprecedented set of protocols. Our scientists and doctors spoke to their scientists and doctors. Eight Maryland government agencies got involved, as did their counterparts in Korea. It took dozens and dozens of phone calls, night after night — sometimes it seemed like all night — working through language barriers and a 13-hour time difference.
Moon’s team helped to cut through miles of bureaucratic red tape and connected us directly with executives at LabGenomics, a molecular diagnostics company. We explained what we were trying to achieve in Maryland and how desperate our need was. The LabGenomics people seemed to understand.
The scramble eventually culminated in the arrival of those half-million tests. I could finally breathe a sigh of relief: We had the tools at least to learn the scope of the outbreak.
I thought we might get a congratulatory word from the president. Trump always had a taste for bold gestures — but, apparently, only for bold gestures he could claim. The president spent much of the following Monday’s White House briefing criticizing me and dismissing what we had done. “The governor from Maryland didn’t really understand” about testing, Trump grumbled. “The governor of Maryland could’ve called Mike Pence, could’ve saved a lot of money. . . . I don’t think he needed to go to South Korea. I think he needed to get a little knowledge.”
The president’s comments that day seemed to confuse test kits with testing labs, but whatever. It was a great day for Maryland.
Pence called me a few days later. We had a friendly and productive conversation on a range of topics related to Maryland and the National Governors Association. At the end of the call, I jokingly said: “By the way, the president said that instead of working with South Korea, I should have just called you to get tests. If I had known it was that easy, I could have saved a heck of a lot of effort!” He chuckled, but there wasn’t much else to say.
Coincidence? CDC comes out with a report on what version of COVID-19 that NYC got…and confirmed it came from Europe. T 'n Co are suggesting that NYC did not get after that large outbreak fast enough…But the European strain came into NYC and started spreading a few days before there was a European ban on travel.
T is still trying to pin it on Gov. Cuomo…
Washington (CNN)Travel bans meant to stop the coronavirus from getting to the US from China and Europe came too late, according to a new analysis of cases from the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
The US restricted travel from China on February 2 and from Europe on March 13, but by March 8, Covid-19 was already circulating among the community in New York City and, by March 15, community transmission of the virus was already widespread, the analysis found.
What was circulating most closely matched the strain of the virus circulating in Europe, not China, which President Donald Trump has repeatedly blamed for not preventing its spread to the US.
By the time the Trump administration had placed travel restrictions on Europe, the importation of the virus and the community spread of the disease had already started in New York City, according to the report. Testing was limited at the start of the epidemic in New York City, which allowed people with undetected cases to spread the virus.
EXCLUSIVE: WHITE HOUSE DOCUMENT SHOWS 18 STATES IN CORONAVIRUS “RED ZONE”
The 18 states that are included in the red zone for cases in the document are:
Alabama Louisiana Arkansas Mississippi Arizona North Carolina California Nevada Florida Oklahoma Georgia South Carolina Idaho Tennessee Iowa Texas Kansas Utah
The 11 states that are in the red zone for test positivity are:
Alabama Mississippi Arizona Nevada Florida South Carolina Georgia Texas Idaho Washington Louisiana
At least 72 NFL players have tested positive for COVID-19 as of July 10, according to the NFL Players Association.
The players association, a union that represents the players of the NFL, confirmed the positive tests on its website. Although not every player in the league has been tested, the number of players who have tested positive represents approximately 2.5 percent of all NFL players, according to ESPN.
The association did not confirm which players have tested positive, but it provided concentrations of COVID-19 cases in NFL markets across the country. Currently, the Miami Dolphins’s market has the highest concentration of cases, followed by the Arizona Cardinals and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
White House: ‘The science should not stand in the way’ of reopening schools
Moments ago, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany defended Trump ’s push to reopen schools, despite concerns about the spread of coronavirus in the classroom.
“And when he says open, he means open and full, kids being able to attend each and every day at their school,” McEnany noted furing her White House briefing.
“The science should not stand in the way of this,” McEnany said, adding moments later, “The science is on our side here.”
From On Politics - NYt
You probably also know that the discussion has been more than a bit heated. Emotions are running high. For many parents, there’s fear and anxiety and frustration. (“OH MY GOD DISNEY IS OPEN AND SCHOOLS ARE NOT,” Emily Oster, an economics professor at Brown University who has been studying the topic, tweeted this week.)
For many teachers, there’s fear and anxiety and frustration, too. (Several members of the United Educators Association of Texas have asked “if the attorneys that we employ for our association could help write wills,” said Steven Poole, the executive director.)
Some counties never reached 75,000 cases total! So many will die, this horrifying and devastating.
Doctors have gotten better at treating coronavirus patients
Doctors and hospitals have learned a lot about how best to treat people infected with the coronavirus in the months since the pandemic began.
Why it matters: Better treatment means fewer deaths and less pain for people who are infected, and research into pharmaceutical treatments is advancing at the same time as hospital care.
The big picture: Some of the simplest changes have been the most effective. For example, doctors have learned that flipping patients onto their stomachs instead of their backs can help increase airflow to the lungs.
- Providers also now prefer high-flow oxygen over ventilators, despite the early focus on ventilator supply.
- "If you can avoid ventilation, it is preferred if someone is able to breathe on their own and you just help them out by giving them more oxygenated air to breathe,” said Janis Orlowski, chief health care officer of the Association of American Medical Colleges.
Researchers have also discovered new utility in old drugs.
- Dexamethasone, a cheap steroid used to treat inflammation, has been found to reduce deaths by one-third among patients on ventilators and one-fifth among those on oxygen.
- Preliminary data has shown that remdesivir, an antiviral, probably doesn’t save seriously ill patients’ lives, but can help others get out of the hospital a few days earlier. “Anyone who has evidence of lung injury or needing oxygen, we give it,” said Armond Esmaili, a hospitalist at the University of California San Francisco Medical Center.
- Doctors have also learned to put all COVID patients on drugs to prevent blood clots, Esmaili said.
What they’re saying: There’s still a lot doctors and scientists don’t know about the virus, but they say they’ve come along way since February and March, when they were essentially flying blind.
- “It was very scary, just to give you the subjective feeling, of caring for patients and talking with patients and their families and a lot of the time saying, ‘We don’t know a lot about this disease. We don’t know how you’re going to do,’" Esmaili said.
Between the lines: Hospitals are also able to provide better care when they’re not overwhelmed with patients.
- New York’s hospitals were so overwhelmed in the spring that they brought in employees to work well outside of their specialties. In some hospitals’ emergency rooms, patient-to-nurse ratios rose to more than 20 to 1, the NYT reports— five times the recommended ratio.
- “Really attentive-level care is important,” Esmaili said.“It’s not that hard to imagine that when you have the resources and you’re not overburdened with a massive amount of patients that patients are going to get better care.”
What we’re watching: These advances in treatment protocols will only go so far, especially if hospitals in states like Florida, Arizona and Texas become too full to put them into practice.
- In states with rising case counts, “I think you’re going to see mortality rates increase there because of that phenomenon of hospitals being unable to deliver optimal care, because they don’t have the staffing,” said James Lawler, an infectious disease specialist at the University of Nebraska Medical Center.
- “You don’t want your ICU nurse to have to take care of five or six patients at the same time," he said.
Face Masks Really Do Matter. The Scientific Evidence Is Growing
Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, said he believes the pandemic could be brought under control over the next four to eight weeks if “we could get everybody to wear a mask right now.” His comments, made Tuesday with the Journal of the American Medical Association, followed an editorial he and others wrote there emphasizing “ample evidence” of asymptomatic spread and highlighting new studies showing how masks help reduce transmission.
The research Dr. Redfield cited included a newly published study suggesting that universal use of surgical masks helped reduce rates of confirmed Covid-19 infections among health-care workers at the Mass General Brigham health-care system in Massachusetts.
His comments are the clearest message yet from the CDC, amid fierce debate over facial coverings, fueled initially by shifting messages from federal and global officials about their necessity and then by those espousing individual liberties.
Researchers from around the world have found wearing even a basic cloth face covering is more effective in reducing the spread of Covid-19 than wearing nothing at all. And many are now examining the possibility that masks might offer some personal protection from the virus, despite initial thinking that they mostly protect others.
Experts caution that widespread masking doesn’t eliminate the need to follow other recommendations, like frequent handwashing and social distancing.
In the absence of widespread availability of N95 masks—considered among the most effective but typically reserved for health-care workers—transmission can still be reduced with simple and affordable face coverings, the research shows. In a study published last month in the journal Physics of Fluids, researchers at Florida Atlantic Universityfound that, of the readily accessible facial coverings they studied, a well-fitted homemade stitched mask comprising two layers of cotton quilting fabric was most effective for reducing the forward spread of droplets. The research was conducted using a mannequin’s head, an air compressor and a smoke generator that mechanically simulated a cough.
The study found that aerosol-size droplets expelled from the mannequin with the double-layered cotton mask traveled forward about 2.5 inches on average, and that most of the leakage escaped from gaps between the nose and face. Loosely fitting facial coverings, including a folded cotton handkerchief with ear loops, as well as a bandanna were less helpful, the study found. With those masks, droplets traveled on average about 1.25 and 3.5 feet, respectively. In contrast, the study found droplets traveled about 8 inches on average with an off-the-shelf cone-shaped mask.
Meanwhile, droplets from an uncovered cough traveled around 8 feet on average, though the study found that they could travel up to 12 feet—double the currently recommended social-distancing guideline of 6 feet. Leakage from a common disposable surgical mask wasn’t studied, though two of the study’s authors, Siddhartha Verma and Manhar Dhanak, said they are working on it.
“It was surprising in a good way to see that a homemade mask could do so well…that we don’t have to get a very fancy mask,” Dr. Verma said. “A cotton mask can be washed at home and dried. Reusability is becoming important as we go into this for the long haul.”
The picture: The phone survey of 1,006 adults, conducted from July 12-15 with a margin of error of 3.5 points, comes as coronavirus cases spike across the United States.
- 19 states this week set new highs for coronavirus infections recorded in a single day this week and the U.S. on Saturday reported more than 71,500 new coronavirus cases — second highest to the record 75,600-plus set last Thursday.
- A Quinnipiac University poll out last Wednesday reported 62% of registered voters said Trump’s hurting efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19.
Per Axios tonight…
Shows such an abdication from their WH responsibilities…RUNNING AWAY from the problem and dumping it to the STATES.
WASHINGTON — Each morning at 8 as the coronavirus crisis was raging in April, Mark Meadows, the White House chief of staff, convened a small group of aides to steer the administration through what had become a public health, economic and political disaster.
Seated around Mr. Meadows’s conference table and on a couch in his office down the hall from the Oval Office, they saw their immediate role as practical problem solvers. Produce more ventilators. Find more personal protective equipment. Provide more testing.
But their ultimate goal was to shift responsibility for leading the fight against the pandemic from the White House to the states. They referred to this as “state authority handoff,” and it was at the heart of what would become at once a catastrophic policy blunder and an attempt to escape blame for a crisis that had engulfed the country — perhaps one of the greatest failures of presidential leadership in generations.
Over a critical period beginning in mid-April, President Trump and his team convinced themselves that the outbreak was fading, that they had given state governments all the resources they needed to contain its remaining “embers” and that it was time to ease up on the lockdown.
On April 11, she told the coronavirus task force in the Situation Room that the nation was in good shape. Boston and Chicago are two weeks away from the peak, she cautioned, but the numbers in Detroit and other hard-hit cities are heading down.
A sharp pivot soon followed, with consequences that continue to plague the country today as the virus surges anew.
Even as a chorus of state officials and health experts warned that the pandemic was far from under control, Mr. Trump went, in a matter of days, from proclaiming that he alone had the authority to decide when the economy would reopen to pushing that responsibility onto the states. The government issued detailed reopening guidelines, but almost immediately, Mr. Trump began criticizing Democratic governors who did not “liberate” their states.
Mr. Trump’s bet that the crisis would fade away proved wrong. But an examination of the shift in April and its aftermath shows that the approach he embraced was not just a misjudgment. Instead, it was a deliberate strategy that he would stick doggedly to as evidence mounted that, in the absence of strong leadership from the White House, the virus would continue to infect and kill large numbers of Americans.