Donald Trump’s COVID pandemic response is somehow worse than we thought

During the first year of the COVID pandemic, as cases spread rapidly and deaths soared, then-President Donald Trump threatened to withhold help for governors who did not treat them “kindly.” ‘ with him and his aides banning the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention from briefings for a staggering six months, according to a new batch of information released this week.

Emails between top CDC officials and the Trump administration, released by a House panel on Friday, also reveal that Trump supports the CDC strongly equipping the CDC to issue public health guidance for churches in May 2020, just as houses of worship are emerging as particularly risky installations.

In early May, the CDC released two reports, one of which detailed how a pastor at an Arkansas church and his wife unknowingly spread the virus to 26 others, and flew in clusters. 61 people, of which four died. A second report found that 87% of choir concert attendees in Washington had the virus.

The message and accompanying recommendations that churches only host virtual services or drive-in services stand in stark contrast to Trump’s ridiculously jovial proposal in April that the country should open up. fully restored and “ready to go into Easter”.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, when the CDC sent draft guidance for religious communities to the White House on May 21, 2020, Trump aides immediately declined, the emails show.

Aides expressed concern that the guidance “seems to heighten concerns about religious freedom” and suggested that the CDC be allowed to publish the guidance “subject to remediation of offensive passages.”

White House Attorney May Davis called earlier CDC guidance “questionable” and suggested the proposed changes “on Kellyanne.” [Conway] edit “which” deletes all remote church suggestions. “She added, “[T]Although I would personally say that if I were old and vulnerable (I feel old and vulnerable), driver services would be welcome. “It’s not clear what the “offensive passage” is, but the final guidelines do not include any recommendations for drive-in services or remote churches.

Internal Selection Subcommittee on the Coronavirus Crisis

The next day, Trump bluntly told state governors in a press conference that they should allow churches to reopen fully.

According to a quote from an upcoming book by New York Times journalists Jonathan Martin and Alexander Burns, as obtained by The Hill this week, Trump went even further with the governors, threatening to withdraw pandemic aid if they did not offer “reciprocity” or treat him “kindly”.

Book, This will not pass“Depicting Trump as a mafia don, demanding loyalty from supporters and political opponents, using the podium of the biggest bullies in the world to subdue them and advise them privately to offer support”, The Hill Written.

In a call with governors detailed in the book, Trump threatened to cut federal funding to most of the states that have deployed the National Guard to help fight COVID. He told them that if they wanted the federal government to cover the costs, “You have to call me and ask me nicely.”

In another call with California Governor Gavin Newsom, Trump said he would allow a COVID-equipped cruise ship to dock in San Francisco so passengers could be treated — but he would be mindful of “reciprocity.” again” from Newsom.

Arkansas Governor Asa Hutchinson told the book’s authors: “President Trump’s comments, rhetoric, and near-welcome attitude in some contexts make it really hard for a governor like me to really reverse the severity of the medical emergency we are facing.

Meanwhile, House Democrats also released excerpts of an interview with former CDC Director Robert Redfield on Friday in which he revealed that the Trump administration had blocked the CDC from public briefings. , with few exceptions, during the first six months of the pandemic.

It came after Nancy Messonnier, then director of the CDC’s National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, issued an early warning about the severity of the outbreak’s pandemic — something the White House said. desperately trying to lower. She was sidelined and later resigned.

“This is one of my big disappointments… [t]HHS has basically taken over the entire payment of CDC briefings,” said Redfield. “None of our briefings have been approved.”

He said it caused him “PTSD for six months.” Donald Trump’s COVID pandemic response is somehow worse than we thought


Hung is a Interreviewed U.S. News Reporter based in London. His focus is on U.S. politics and the environment. He has covered climate change extensively, as well as healthcare and crime. Hung joined Interreviewed in 2023 from the Daily Express and previously worked for Chemist and Druggist and the Jewish Chronicle. He is a graduate of Cambridge University. Languages: English. You can get in touch with me by emailing:

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