Members of the administration of former President Donald Trumps privately warned of a serious spread of Covid-19 in the United States while the president publicly denigrated his political opponents for warning of the exact same scenario, according to emails obtained by Congress.
The House select committee tasked with investigating the handling of the Covid-19 pandemic on Tuesday published emails between Peter Navarro, the former White House trade adviser, and Steven Hatfill, pathologist and outside adviser to Mr. Trump. In the emails, Mr. Hatfill warns the White House: [i]In truth, we have no idea how many people are infected in the United States, adding that the first big wave of infections will start in the United States within the next 7 days.
The [Centers for Disease Control (CDC)] made a series of critical mistakes in implementing the most basic measure of infectious disease control, when it distributed infectious test kits for diagnosing coronaviruses. This has limited our ability to screen individuals for Covid-19 infection and containment, Mr Hatfill said in an email dated February 29, 2020.
This will be accompanied by a massive loss of credibility and the Democratic accusations are only just beginning. This must be countered with frank honesty about the situation and decisive direct actions that are taken and can be seen in the information being disseminated, he warned.
Panel chairman, Representative James Clyburn, said the exchange was proof that the Trump administration had ignored early warnings regarding the Covid-19 pandemic.
At the time, Mr. Trump was touting both the speed of his administration’s response to the outbreak, as well as the effectiveness of the Covid-19 tests that were being pushed by the CDC despite warnings from his own advisers that they were ineffective at detecting the virus. .
Anyone right now, and yesterday, anyone who needs a test gets a test. They are there. And the proofs are beautiful … the proofs are all perfect as the letter was perfect. The transcription was perfect. Law? It wasn’t as perfect as that but rather good, Mr Trump said on March 6, after Mr Hatfills’ warning was received by the White House.
The warnings about ineffective testing weren’t the only attempts Mr Hatfill made to get the White House to take additional steps to prepare the United States for a larger epidemic. In early March, Hatfill warned in draft notes obtained by the committee that the United States could face a shortage of medical ventilators, and urged the White House to secure an adequate supply as quickly as possible.
Shortages of fans in some states would soon be reported just weeks after this memo was sent. Several governors, including former New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo, have publicly fought against the White House after calling for more federal help to secure ventilators and have faced criticism in the president’s response.
Documents recently obtained by the select subcommittee reveal new details regarding the Trump administrations’ awareness of the impending coronavirus crisis in the early weeks of the pandemic and the failure to execute an effective strategy to contain the virus, Mr. Clyburn in a press release.
These exchanges add to the growing body of evidence that the Trump administration knew of the significant risk posed by the coronavirus but failed to implement an effective strategy to reduce the loss of American lives. The small subcommittee seeks to understand what leaders in the Trump administration knew, when they knew it, and how their decisions may have contributed to the catastrophic loss of life, he continued.
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