As public criticism of the Trump administration’s lackluster response to the coronavirus crisis continues to mount, our elected officials are begining to express their own frustration with the lack of transparency and urgency coming from the White House.
POLITICO reports that “livid” Democratic Senators “erupted” after a particuarly fruitless conference call with Vice-President Mike Pence and his coronavirus task force that failed to provide them with any of the answers they wanted about national testing efforts.
Maine Senator Angus King reportedly charged the administration with leaving states “adrift,” that it was a “dereliction of duty”, and that he had “never been so mad about a phone call in my life.”
Other Democrats complained that the Trump team was “was vague on the details and was overly optimistic in its thinking” when it came to America’s COVID-19 testing capabilities and the speed with which states would be able to re-open their economies, reports POLITICO’s Burgess Everett.
“The fundamental problem is a lack of capacity which at this point they can’t fix. So they are explaining it away…Everyone was livid” said an unnamed Democrat.
They are right to be frustrated, as America’s testing woes are largely the fault of the Trump administration. When the White House was first forced to take the threat from the novel coronavirus seriously, they deliberately slow-walked testing in order to avoid the discovery of more coronavirus cases and potentially damage Trump’s re-election chances.
On top of that, the Trump administration decided to refuse to accept the test kits that the World Health Organization was shipping to countries around the world at the end of February.
Instead, reports POLITICO, they decided to go ahead with an American-made test that inevitably was delayed by manufacturing issues, lab contamination, and logistical problems.
While the virus was first picking up steam in February, America lagged far behind the rest of the world in testing and in declaring quarantine protocols, allowing the virus to spread at ease through major population centers.
Testing falls woefully short in U.S.: “Nationally, an average of 145,000 people have been tested for the virus/day over the past week.” In total, the US. has administered 3.26 million tests, which comes to just 1% of the population. https://t.co/2RwymTSB2N
— Ali Velshi (@AliVelshi) April 16, 2020
VOX’s Dylan Scott reports that “the US has improved from ‘horrifically bad’ to ‘woefully short’ on Covid-19 tests.”
”The system is decentralized and not coordinated…And the federal government has not stepped in to provide that coordination and help ramp up the manufacturing. Finally, we have such a testing deficit that we are playing a terrible game of catch-up,” warns Kaiser Family Foundation global health director Jen Kates to VOX.
After appalling mismanagment of virus containment and testing in the onset period, the Trump team appears to now dead set on mismangaging the recovery phase and forcing open the economy before it is safe to do so. How many more lives will be lost thanks to their greed and ambition?
Colin Taylor is the editor-in-chief of Occupy Democrats. He graduated from Bennington College with a Bachelor's degree in history and political science. He now focuses on advancing the cause of social justice and equality in America.