If President Donald Trump really wanted to handle the coronavirus epidemic correctly, he would not have carelessly discarded the model former President Barack Obama established during the Ebola outbreak in 2014.
That year, as Trump freaked out as a private citizen about the virus, Obama was busy taking actions that would not only help fight the Ebola outbreak and prevent it from spreading, he created a model that could be used in future years to handle other viruses as well.
“Amid the outbreak that year, Obama tapped a so-called czar, Ron Klain, to coordinate the work of a slew of federal agencies,” The Atlantic reports.
Klain served as United States Ebola response coordinator for the next year until the crisis passed, but he also served as chief of staff under former Vice Presidents Joe Biden and Al Gore.
Needless to say, Klain had plenty of experience dealing with bureaucracy, which enabled him to get the job done.
But rather than keeping that model after taking office, Trump quickly scrapped it instead as part of his obsession with destroying everything Obama ever did and replaced it something far less efficient.
“Trump has chosen a different model, setting up a 12-member task force headed by a Cabinet member, Alex Azar, the secretary of health and human services,” The Atlantic continued.
Azar is simply not equipped to lead the response to pandemics as much as he is equipped to do Trump’s bidding by insisting that everything is under control.
Senator Mazie Hirono (D-Hawaii), whose state is at the front line of screening for coronavirus before people travel on to the mainland, disagrees.
“When we call [Azar’s] office, they usually have to refer us to other agencies,” she told The Atlantic. “One of the ways we can change this lack of communication is to have one person in charge. We have a model for that: the Ebola epidemic in 2014.”
Indeed, Azar was able to get information from federal agencies quickly and relay it to those who needed it to keep everyone informed. And that’s vital during outbreaks because viruses can move fast.
Trump not only killed that model of efficiency, but his purging of career government officials over the years is also gumming up the works across the board.
“The sidelining of career expertise over the last three years puts you at a disadvantage in dealing with crises and big challenges like this one,” former longtime diplomat William Burns said.
“It’s challenges like this that require you to have experienced, competent people in the government, and … a President willing to listen,” Klain told CNN. “He faces this with a bench half-filled.”
Trump himself still insists that everything is fine on Twitter even as health officials from the National Institute of Health contradict him. The seriousness of the outbreak could not be more clear in how the stock market has reacted over the last two days as the Dow has shed nearly 2,000 points over fears that the virus has not been contained.
Klain pointed out the futility of Trump’s tweets during this crisis.
For weeks I’ve been saying that WH “happy talk” on #COVIDー19 #Coronarivus would keep up the markets for only so long; happy tweets can’t stop the virus: only a well run and sharp response can https://t.co/Tgu25muwbo
— Ronald Klain (@RonaldKlain) February 24, 2020
That means Trump needs someone like Klain to take charge of the situation and stop pussyfooting around information just because it may be bad. The public must be informed and so must Congress so preparedness can be higher. Anything else puts lives at risk because people won’t take the threat seriously if Trump is telling them not to do so.
Yet Trump is only compounding the problem by attempting to divert money from the most vulnerable citizens to fund a coronavirus response.
Biggest cuts in HHS plan to transfer $ to coronavirus response:
– $37.4 million: Low Income Home Energy Assistance
– $12.3 million: National Cancer Institute
– $7.5 million: Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services program management
– $7.3 million: National Institute on Aging
— Jack Fitzpatrick (@jackfitzdc) February 25, 2020
Of course, it’s less money than he should be requesting and he certainly should divert money from elsewhere. You know, like his wall.
While the above programs are crucial for helping the vulnerable avoid contracting illnesses and spreading them, a wall does absolutely nothing to stop viruses.
In the end, the nation may pay a heavy price for Trump’s decision to dismantle Obama’s Ebola model. The question is will people care enough to do something about it by voting him out in 2020 in favor of a president who actually listens to experts?
Featured image via screen capture
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