The World Health Organization (WHO) has officially labeled coronavirus a pandemic after it made its way into at least 114 countries and killed more than 4,000 people. According to Pulitzer Prize-winning science writer Laurie Garrett, who spoke with Raw Story, Donald Trump‘s administration destroyed the pandemic response infrastructure from Barack Obama‘s administration out of spite.
“Where we are right now is that everybody is recognizing, oops, it was a big mistake by the Trump administration to obliterate the entire infrastructure of pandemic response that the Obama administration had created,” she said.
“Why did he do it? Well, it certainly wasn’t about the money, because it wasn’t a heavily funded program. It was certainly because it was Obama’s program.”
Garrett is speaking of a particular division within the National Security Council (NSC), the Department of Homeland Security, and other linked centers in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Treasury Department, the Commerce Department, the Office of Global Health Affairs, and Washington headquarters. According to Garrett, this network was created using Obama’s experience dealing with Ebola in 2014, which helped him understand that a U.S. response to the spread of a disease had to be an “all-of-government response.”
“Well, that was all eliminated. It’s gone. And now they’re hastily trying to recreate something.”
Trump on coronavirus testing: "The Obama administration made a decision on testing that turned out to be very detrimental to what we're doing & we undid that decision a few days ago so that testing can take place in a much more accurate & rapid fashion" (what's he talking about?) pic.twitter.com/Z0UBaORIwI
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) March 4, 2020
Garrett noted the importance of such a network by claiming that if the United States were to get into a similar situation as China, the departments of commerce, transportation, and agriculture would have to coordinate to ensure that American’s can receive food deliveries.
“Do we have the capacity to coordinate that?” she asked.
According to Garrett, Obama understood that you can’t coordinate the private and public sector without one person managing all of it, pointing to Ron Klain’s role in the Obama White House. She then highlighted the inconsistency in messaging about who is heading the Trump administration’s coronavirus response, with various sources confirming either Vice President Mike Pence or Alex Azar, who is the U.S. Secretary of Health and Human Services.
As reported by New York Magazine, Klain recently spoke about the Trump administration’s handling of coronavirus and compared it to the Obama administration’s Ebola response. Klain said that he sent 10,000 people to West Africa to fight the disease, noting that coronavirus is more of a domestic issue and thus will not see the same strategy. However, in terms of similarity, he claimed that both responses require all aspects of government to “effectively, efficiently, and quickly” response.
According to Klain, the Trump administration’s response has failed to deal with COVID-19 in both its “competence” and “confidence,” the latter of which he called “horrible.”