‘This Doesn’t Inspire Confidence’ — Former Health Official Trashes Trump’s Untrustworthy Coronavirus Strategy
During a press conference on Wednesday to discuss the threat of the spread of coronavirus in the world and within the United States specifically, President Donald Trump said there was “no reason to be panicked” over the matter.
White House officials are “very, very ready,” he said.
His words contradicted health officials who spoke after him, who said they expected more cases to develop.
Then, shortly after the press conference ended, news broke that a case of coronavirus that was found in California didn’t appear to have originated from out of the country. “It’s possible this could be an instance of community spread of COVID-19,” the CDC said in a statement, according to PBS NewsHour.
It seemed as though that information was known about by the president and officials at his press conference, but not discussed by them during the event. In not being transparent about the situation, it could cause many Americans to distrust the president, a former Obama-era health official said.
Dr. Zeke Emanuel, who worked with the Obama administration during the H1N1 pandemic in 2009-10, spoke on CNN’s New Day program about the matter.
“To have an effective public health response, the public has to trust the government, that they’re getting the right information, and that the instructions they’re getting from the government are accurate,” Emanuel explained. “When you have this dissonance between what President Trump says [and] what the public health officials at the CDC and NIH say…public trust goes down.”
To have withheld the information about the California patient, he added, was “very bad judgment” on the part of the administration.
“When you have this dissonance between what President Trump says, what the public health officials at the CDC and NIH say… public trust goes down,” says Dr. Zeke Emanuel, health policy adviser under Obama, about Trump downplaying coronavirus threat.https://t.co/ySgSQxzWm0 pic.twitter.com/fZEfOkNJqe
— New Day (@NewDay) February 27, 2020
Emanuel also noted that, while Trump had named Vice President Mike Pence to oversee a task force on coronavirus, it remained unclear who was actually in charge, as Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar also appeared to be in a leadership role on the task force.
“It’s confusing to me what’s going on at the White House, and who’s responsible,” Emanuel said.
He also added he was worried about Pence’s involvement in the task force, citing the vice president’s role as governor in Indiana in having a slow response to an HIV outbreak in that state several years ago.
“This doesn’t inspire confidence, and I am very worried that, despite having great people at the CDC and the [National Institutes of Health], we may not have the leadership at the top to actually coordinate this response and really effectively address it,” Emanuel said.
Trump himself has made many questionable and errant claims. Earlier this month, for example, he said, without evidence backing up his assertions, that coronavirus could possibly fizzle out by the time spring happens.
“A lot of people think that goes away in April with the heat. Typically that will go away in April,” Trump said.
The CDC later contradicted his claims.