A group of top officials from the Trump administration, led by senior adviser Jared Kushner, was tasked in the early stages of the coronavirus pandemic with developing a national testing plan but later decided against any such plan because the virus was mainly hitting “blue states,” which had no plans of supporting President Donald Trump in the upcoming election, according to a shocking report from Vanity Fair:
“Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. ‘The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,’ said the expert.
“That logic may have swayed Kushner. ‘It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,’ the expert said.”
As a result of that and other bad decisions made by the administration, over 150,000 Americans have now died of COVID-19 and nationwide testing is no closer to a reality than it was when the first few cases began appearing at hospitals.
On April 27, President Trump made clear exactly what the White House position would be on testing: He shifted responsibility to the states and began pivoting away from mitigation measures to a strategy of denying the deadly disease was as dangerous as had first been announced.
The lack of a national testing strategy, according to Dr. Margaret Bourdeaux, research director for the Harvard Medical School Program in Global Public Policy, has been catastrophic:
“We might as well put duct tape over our eyes, cotton in our ears, and hide under the bed.”
Four months after the disastrous decision by the Kushner task force to punt on a national testing plan, the United States remains no closer to stopping spread of the disease, Rockefeller Foundation Dr. Rajiv Shah notes:
“We know what has to be done: broad and ubiquitous testing tied to broad and effective contact tracing. It takes about five minutes for anyone to understand that is the only path forward to reopening and recovering.” Without that, he said, “Our country is going to be stuck facing a series of rebound epidemics that are highly consequential in a really deleterious way.”
Donald Trump and his administration have no strategy for dealing with any of the problems that face the country. That’s why thousands more will die in the months ahead and the U.S. will continue to lag behind the world in battling COVID-19.
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