In a shocking new Vanity Fair expose, a health expert who worked closely with President Donald Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, claimed that a group working on the pandemic response led by Kushner made a political decision not to release a nation-wide strategy for providing COVID-19 tests.
Although President Trump created a coronavirus task force, Kushner also formed an assembly of people who worked behind the scenes to develop a comprehensive approach for responding to the novel coronavirus. Kushner's task force included Adam Boehler, Nat Turner, Jason Yeung, and Marc Andreessen, none of whom have significant healthcare experience. So, the group eventually called on diagnostic-testing experts. Together, using the encrypted app WhatsApp, members began creating a strategy that was supposed to be bipartisan and in the country's best interest.
The publication obtained a copy of the plan that Kushner and his team created to address the testing challenges the U.S. faced. The plan called for the federal government to coordinate the distribution of testing and a national contact tracing procedure. It even included a surveillance system with real-time data that would show which areas were still high-risk and which places could reopen relatively safely.
One reason the White House never launched the program is that the president downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic for fear of it hurting him politically, the source told Vanity Fair. Additionally, task force response coordinator Dr. Deborah Birx presented information that made the overly-optimistic assertion that COVID-19 would fade away in the summer.
The expert told Vanity Fair that politics definitely played a role in the choice not to launch a nationalized response. At that time, the virus mainly impacted larger cities run by Democrats, so providing help wasn't politically advantageous to the president.
"The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy," they said.
The same expert believed that political reasoning might have helped persuade Kushner to keep a lid on the methods his group created. Many believe that Kushner has a major influence on Trump's reelection campaign.
"It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision-maker as to what [plan] was going to come out," they said.
The president was vocal about blaming Democratic governors and mayors of large cities that initially became epicenters. At this time, several Republican-led areas, including Florida, Texas, and Arizona, have surging coronavirus cases, and in many areas of the country, test results take a week or longer. Many health experts believe that because each state is on its own, the entire system is on the verge of collapse.
The United States still lacks a comprehensive, national approach to testing for COVID-19, which health specialists have continually said the country needs in order to get the pandemic under control.