Trump Absents His Administration At COVID Emergency Tipping Point
Public health officials are voicing alarm that the White House has "checked out" at the same time coronavirus cases are skyrocketing and the nation is approaching holidays that could prove to be superspreading events.
Trump Administration Has 'Checked Out' As Covid-19 Surges, Experts Say
New Covid-19 diagnoses and hospitalizations are continuing to rise sharply across the US, with deaths following behind, in the worst outbreak of the entire pandemic. Experts say the federal government, led by the lame duck president Donald Trump, has “checked out”, weeks away from what would be early vaccine approvals. On Tuesday, a coronavirus taskforce update from the office of Mike Pence made no mention of transition efforts involving the president-elect, Joe Biden, as Trump has refused to concede defeat. Last weekend, leading public health expert Dr Anthony Fauci said Trump had not attended a taskforce meeting in five months. (Glenza, 11/17)
COVID-19 Is Spiking—And Donald Trump Has Pulled A 'Disappearance Act'
The White House says the President is regularly briefed on the virus, but there is a lot to do. The federal government has paid for millions of doses of vaccines and faces a massive logistical challenge to work with state and local health departments to distribute them over the next several months. But it will be months or longer before enough of the population is covered by a vaccine for community immunity to kick in. In the meantime, the virus is ripping through the country again, putting a strain on protective equipment and hospitals. (Bennett, 11/17)
In other news from the Trump administration —
Arlington National Cemetery Reverses Course, Allows Wreaths Across America Amid Pandemic
Wreaths Across America will not be canceled this year in spite of the coronavirus pandemic, President Donald Trump announced Tuesday. The announcement comes after Arlington National Cemetery said it would be closed to volunteers hoping to lay wreaths to honor fallen soldiers as a precaution against the spiking pandemic. That move was quickly criticized by Republicans, and Secretary of the Army Ryan McCarthy said Tuesday he directed the cemetery to reverse the decision. Shortly after, Trump said he had insisted the tradition carry on this year. (Choi, 11/17)
Trump Adviser Scott Atlas Criticizes Plans To Avoid Seeing Elderly For Thanksgiving
One of President Trump's top advisers on the coronavirus pandemic raised concerns on Monday about excluding older family members from Thanksgiving celebrations, citing the risks of isolation. Scott Atlas, who has promoted controversial ideas about the virus such as herd immunity, said on Fox News that it's important to protect "vulnerable, high-risk, senior family members." But he suggested it may be worth including them in holiday gatherings. (Samuels, 11/17)
After Trump March: Arrests, Accusations And COVID-19 Fines
After a weekend with dozens of arrests and scattered clashes between supporters and opponents of President Donald Trump, both sides took to social media to accuse the other of instigating violence. Meanwhile, a long-standing D.C. bar stands in danger of losing its liquor license after becoming a haven for Trump supporters who refused to follow local COVID-19 restrictions. All told, 21 people were arrested, including one juvenile, for charges that included disorderly conduct, inciting violence and assault. (Khalil, 11/16)
Trump Administration Cancels Covid-19 Celebrity Ad Campaign
The Health and Human Services department has scrapped a planned ad campaign featuring celebrities discussing Covid-19, a senior HHS official told a congressional oversight panel in a letter shared with POLITICO. The abandoned $15 million contract with Atlas Research, part of a larger $300 million taxpayer-funded campaign aimed at "defeating despair" over the pandemic, was conceived by a close political ally of President Donald Trump this summer. It was met with outrage from Democratic lawmakers, who charged it was an attempt to boost lagging public opinion of Trump's coronavirus response ahead of the election. (Diamond, 11/17)