Trump's disdain for science has consequences
Bradley Blankenship

Editor's note: Bradley Blankenship is a Prague-based American journalist, political analyst and freelance reporter. The article reflects the author's opinions, and not necessarily the views of CGTN.

The administration of U.S. President Donald Trump has accused the World Health Organization (WHO) and China of launching a cover-up campaign to hide information regarding the outbreak of the novel coronavirus. The president has pushed this false talking point to deflect any criticism of his administration's pandemic management. However, all indications, including testimonies from officials and the numbers themselves, show a completely different story.

We now know that the Trump administration was not building from the ground up in the pandemic response. It turns out that former U.S. President Barack Obama's administration had left a 69-page (40 plus appendices) playbook for exactly this type of situation, even listing novel coronaviruses as one type of pathogen that could potentially require a major federal response.

In response to people asking whether or not a "pandemic playbook" really existed, Ronald Klain, former Biden chief of staff and Ebola response coordinator, tweeted a picture of the text's table of contents titled "Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents."

Obama's former deputy national security adviser, Ben Rhodes, also added that the prior administration left behind an "office for pandemics, a literal playbook, a cabinet-level exercise, and a global infrastructure" to respond to a pandemic.

Not only were key preventative measures ignored, but so too was the advice and opinion of experts and key officials during the outbreak of the pandemic.

For example, on April 2, Captain Brett Crozier, formerly the captain of the aircraft carrier Theodore Roosevelt, was removed from his ship days after sending a letter to his superiors warning of a COVID-19 outbreak that was overtaking his ship.

Later, over 1,000 members of his crew would eventually test positive for the virus, including himself, and the military continues to struggle to maintain the outbreak on the vessel.

Ousted Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) vaccine researcher, Dr. Rick Bright, testified to the House Committee on Energy and Commerce's health subcommittee on Thursday in a brutal hit against the Trump administration's response to COVID-19.

Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, May 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. /AP

Rick Bright, former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority, testifies before a House Energy and Commerce Subcommittee on Health hearing, May 14, 2020, on Capitol Hill in Washington. /AP

In this testimony, Bright blatantly confirmed that the Trump administration has been suppressing information and expert opinion regarding the pandemic since it began, which explains America's highest-in-the-world case numbers.

Dr. Bright was removed from his position in late April over repeated warnings to the Trump administration that were "causing a commotion" and for resisting a push by the administration to promote treatment with the unapproved anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine, he had said earlier in his whistleblower complaint.

"Some scientists raised early warning signals that were overlooked and pages from our pandemic playbook were ignored by some in leadership," Bright told members of the committee, indicating that the Trump administration had readily available expert analysis on the spread of COVID-19 since the beginning.

Bright had been alarmed going back as far as January when he witnessed supply chains for key medical supplies and personal protection equipment dwindling. According to him, his superiors never took any action.

"I was met with indifference, saying they were either too busy, they didn't have a plan, they didn't know who was responsible for procuring those," he said during the four-hour-long testimony.

What's more, the expert said that he believed these supply shortages caused needless lives to be lost and are still putting lives in danger, saying more should have been done. He's correct and the numbers back it up.

There are now nearly 1.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 in the U.S. and nearly 90,000 deaths. This is not the mark of a country that is properly managed or has an adequate response, certainly not indicative of what is the wealthiest and "greatest" country in the world.

Despite the lashing he's taken this week, Trump has trudged on, continuing to blame everyone else, continuing to push his new "OBAMAGATE" conspiracy, and on Thursday held a campaign event in a key election state, Pennsylvania, despite public health safety concerns.

At the event, Trump touted his controversial reopening scheme and called out the commonwealth's Democrat governor, Tom Wolf, urging an end to business restrictions and social distancing in a symbolic slap in the face to the nation's top infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who urged against an accelerated reopening just the day before.

The Trump administration has ignored all instructions left by his predecessor and continues to ignore and silence all advice from the incredible scientific community that surrounds him. Had he realized that this was a fight against virus, not science, hundreds of lives could have been saved. 

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