Catching up on some stories, nearly all Covid-19 related.
- The president said we didn’t need to halt plane and train travel as passengers were getting “very strong tests” before departure and after arrival. This was a lie. No testing is being done of passengers at any point. Some flights have arrival screening (not testing), but not all of them.
- Jared Kushner nonsensically said the national stockpile of medical supplies wasn’t “for the states” but was instead “for us.” The law establishing the national stockpile and the national stockpile site itself both explicitly state that the stockpile is for state use. After Kushner made his comment, the website was changed to remove the reference to the states. Asked about Kushner’s comments by Weijia Jiang, Trump grew angry calling it a “gotcha” question. He said it was “our” stockpile for “the country” which doesn’t make any sense as the country is made up of states. He added that she should be ashamed of herself for asking the question and that she had a “nasty” tone. This is the fourth time he’s called a reporter nasty for asking a valid question about the pandemic.
- The Trump administration is continuing their strategy of letting the states deal with the pandemic individually rather than taking centralized control. This is a large driver of why the US response has been so poor relative to countries like South Korea. The Abbott 15 minute test touted by Trump last week will see 15 machines deploy to each state. Each machine can only run 96 tests per day. States are currently bidding against each other AND against the federal government on the open market. This drives the cost of supplies up and results in extremely inefficient distribution compared to centralizing buying and distribution under the DPA, which Trump has yet to actually use. In some cases, once a local government orders supplies, the federal government are seizing the shipments. The federal government is taking these seized supplies and allowing private companies to resell them at a profit instead of distributing them where they are most needed. The stockpile itself is nearly depleted.
- Trump’s company has laid off 1,000 employees due to Covid-19 closures. The president could pay all of their salaries for the rest of the year with what he spends traveling to Mar-a-Lago a few times.
- The president said he’s been considering an “exemption” from social distancing guidelines for Easter. Though nothing the Trump administration has recommended has been binding, this would be catastrophic. Immediately after Dr. Fauci stressed the importance of distancing, Trump said we needed to get the economy started again and pausing it is potentially worse than the virus. There is no data to support this.
- The president attacked Captain Crozier, formerly of the USS Theodore Roosevelt for docking the ship in Vietnam. Vietnam has had one of the best responses to the virus in the world. They closed their schools on February 1st, long before most countries. When the carrier docked there, Vietnam had less than 20 cases. The outbreak from the ship had nothing to do with Vietnam. It also wasn’t Crozier’s decision. There are conflicting reports as to whether Trump was involved in firing Crozier but we know he was fired for drawing attention to the lack of response to the outbreak on his ship.
- While pushing an unproven treatment, the president mentioned there may be a shortage of the drug for people who need it for proven treatments. He added that might not be true and reporters should look into it. The president is guessing rather than using the information given to him in briefings.
- The president fired the Intelligence Inspector General who sent the Ukraine whistleblower report to Congress. Trump explicitly said the firing was because he sent the report. He was legally obligated to do so. The president must give Congress 30 days notice before firing an inspector general. He’s getting around the law this time by putting Atkinson on leave for 30 days.
The following articles are general summaries of the US response and how badly it went. Not summarizing them here as they’re all worth a full read.