Fact Check: Trump Handling of Coronavirus

Trump is taking a lot of abuse for his handling of the coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic. For example, a recent essay on caucus99percent quotes LA Times reporting that "In previous emergencies, including ... the H1N1 flu outbreak, both Republican and Democratic administrations loosened Medicaid rules" and "months into the current global disease outbreak, the White House and senior federal health officials haven't taken the necessary steps".

This is patently untrue.

In fact, compared to how H1N1 was handled, Trump is moving at warp speed.

Timeline Comparison

The timeline of when events occurred when proves Trump has acted faster in declaring coronavirus a national emergency than Obama did with H1N1 in 2009.

1/20/2020 - First US case of coronavirus confirmed
1/31/2020 - Trump admin declares coronavirus a public health emergency
3/13/2020 - Trump declares coronavirus a national emergency

The Secretary of HHS may exercise the authority under section 1135 of the SSA to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children’s Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the public health emergency declared in response to the COVID‑19 outbreak.

Source: The White House - 3/13/2020 - Proclamation on Declaring a National Emergency Concerning the Novel Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Outbreak

Compare that to Obama's response to the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic in 2009 that killed 18,000 Americans:

4/15/2009 - First US case of H1N1 confirmed
4/26/2009 - Obama admin declares H1N1 a public health emergency
10/24/2009 - OBama declares H1N1 a national emergency

I hereby declare that the Secretary may exercise the authority under section 1135 of the SSA to temporarily waive or modify certain requirements of the Medicare, Medicaid, and State Children's Health Insurance programs and of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act Privacy Rule throughout the duration of the public health emergency declared in response to the 2009 H1N1 influenza pandemic.

Source: The White House - 10/24/2009 - DECLARATION OF A NATIONAL EMERGENCY WITH RESPECT TO THE 2009 H1N1 INFLUENZA PANDEMIC

Fact Checking

But ... but ... but ... you're thinking. What about Politifact rating "Flashback: Obama waited six months to call swine flu an emergency after thousands died" as FALSE?

The rating was applied to this article on a right-wing site called Prntly:

h1n1 was a big deal, but Obama didn’t know what the hell he was doing. In April of 2009, the H1N1 became a pandemic.

But it wasn’t until six months later, October, that then-President Obama declared a public health emergency on what was already a pandemic. By that time, the disease had infected millions of Americans and more than 1,000 people had died in the U.S.

Source: Prntly.com

Notice the phrase I highlighted -- public health emergency. Yes, it's false that the public health emergency declaration took 6 months. It actually took just 11 days, the exact same amount of time as Trump's. Instead, it was Obama's national emergency declaration that took 6 months, while Trump issued his in less than 2 months.

My verdict:
Wrong emergency declaration, right time frame. Politifact should have acknowledged this fact but didn't.

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on intelligence that should have happened or that should have been made public by agencies that know how to leak if it did happen:

https://www.moonofalabama.org/2020/03/coronavirus-on-western-government-...
March 21, 2020

Coronavirus - On Western Government Failures And Possible Therapies

The U.S. intelligence services fear to come under questioning for not raising enough warning about the novel coronavirus pandemic...

https://www.theamericanconservative.com/articles/the-staggering-collapse...

The Staggering Collapse Of U.S. Intelligence On The Coronavirus

MARCH 24, 2020
SCOTT RITTER

... Trump noted in a press conference on March 17. “It would’ve been helpful if we knew about it earlier.”

It is the job of the U.S. intelligence community to provide senior U.S. government policy makers, including the president, with advance warning about potential crises. The U.S. taxpayer pays a premium for this service; in 2020, the budget for the National Intelligence Program, which includes all programs, projects and activities of the U.S. intelligence community, was $62.8 billion. 

Included in this budget is a small, specialized intelligence unit known as the National Center for Medical Intelligence (NCMI), which operates as part of the Defense Intelligence Agency. The mission of the NCMI is to serve as the lead activity within the Department of Defense (DoD) “for the production of medical intelligence,” and to prepare and coordinate “integrated, all-source intelligence for the DoD and other government and international organizations on foreign health threats and other medical issues to protect U.S. interests worldwide.”

... The sufficiency and efficacy of the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic remains to be seen. As President Trump noted on March 17, however, it would have been helpful to have had advance warning. That was the job of the NCMI, and they failed. This failure may have been a result of complacency, incompetence, or just a byproduct of circumstance. Regardless of the reason, the NCMI needs to learn from this experience, and reexamine the totality of the intelligence cycle—the direction, collection, analysis and feedback loop—associated with its failure to adequately predict the coronavirus pandemic. This reexamination should ensure that the U.S. will not be caught flat-footed the next time around, because there will be a next time.

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CB's picture

@Linda Wood
We know the Intelligence Agencies have not been on the best of terms with Trump since his election. In fact, they have been trying their best to stick a knife in his back and/or tie a noose around his neck during those three plus years.

Would these agencies conveniently "fail" to tell Trump the pertinent truths in a further attempt to kneecap him? Or did Trump not trust them to such an extent that he wouldn't listen to or believe them? Trump's obvious penchant for surrounding himself with sycophants does not bode well for an enlightened presidency.

I find it hard to believe American Intelligence agencies did not know what was going on in China. They have half their Signals Intelligence cruising the South China Sea so they would have been right on top of it when 10,000 PLA medics mobilized into Wuhan on a dozen Y-20's.

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Centaurea's picture

@CB

would surprise me at all. They are certainly capable of it.

Would these agencies conveniently "fail" to tell Trump the pertinent truths in a further attempt to kneecap him? Or did Trump not trust them to such an extent that he wouldn't listen to or believe them? 

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"Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep ... Don't go back to sleep."
~Rumi

"If you want revolution, be it."
~Caitlin Johnstone

CB's picture

done to date in order to ameliorate the COVID-19 pandemic that will rage across the country in the coming month.

What is the nation's true state of testing, production of medical supplies/equipment and preparations for thousands of patients which will rapidly outstrip available facilities? Why is this information not available?

Obama's delay in recognizing the H1H1 in 2009 is not nearly as critical as it will be in the current COVID-19 pandemic.

COVID-13 (1.0%) is deadlier by a factor of 10 compared to the H1N1 (0.1%). The second factor is that H1N1 influenza in 2009 had an R0 1.46 to 1.48 while COVID-19 is between 2 and 2.5. A third factor is the incubation period of COVID-19 can be well over three times as long and also be contagious during this period. Last, but not least, COVID-19 requires more extensive medical care due to the more severe pneumonia type complications it produces.

The US is going to pay a very high price for Trump's slow response to this pandemic. He had the chance to get on this following China's lead or, at the least, S. Korea's. Almost two months lead time wasted. Instead he was much, much more concerned about the US economy and financial health of the corporations. Obama did not have any lead time because the H1N1 epidemic originated in the US.

The WHO now says that the US could become the epicenter of the pandemic.

The following is a very ominous warning. I'm looking forward to Trump's next presser to see how he handles this downturn.

Coronavirus News: US Surgeon General Jerome Adams Warns That 'This Week, It's Gonna Get Bad'

Take note of the dangerous slope the US is tracking in new confirmed cases compared to the other countries in the top four. (US confirmed cases now stands at 60,000, up from the reported 46,500 on that chart.)

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ggersh's picture

@CB https://shero.substack.com/p/trump-could-profit-from-coronavirus

Applied Biosystems is one of the various brands under the Life Technologies brand of Thermo Fisher Scientific corporation. The brand is focused on integrated systems for genetic analysis, which include computerized machines and the consumables used within them, such as reagents.

It is safe to say that the need of the federal government to use these devices provided by the Thermo Fisher Scientific Corp. will substantially increase profitability and likely increase the value of stock in the company.

According to the Associated Press, Donald Trump, the current President of the United States who is supposed to be managing the Coronavirus epidemic and how the testing is conducted, has listed investments in V.F. Corp (VFC) and Thermo Fisher Scientific Corporation (TMO), both of which moved jobs out of the U.S. in high profile outsourcing deals. There is reason to believe that Donald Trump stands to profit from medical testing of coronavirus that will now take place in the United States.

https://lawandcrime.com/high-profile/jared-kushner-asked-karlie-klosss-d...

Your leaders at work....sigh

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tRump amerika's last president

Prez tRumpet blows hard, nothing comes out

#J6PBailoutreadyyet?

edg's picture

@CB

The H1N1 parent virus had been present in the pigs in central Mexico for at least 10 years before a strain was generated that could jump into humans, and the parent strains still exist in the pigs there today. The first human flu infections were seen in Mexico before the 2009 pandemic spread rapidly to the United States and then around the globe.

Source: Science Daily - 2009 swine flu pandemic originated in Mexico, researchers discover

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CB's picture

@edg
But, it was given a significant global impetus when it hit the US.

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edg's picture

@CB

You wrote: "What is the nation's true state of testing, production of medical supplies/equipment and preparations for thousands of patients which will rapidly outstrip available facilities? Why is this information not available?"

All of that information IS available. It just needs research to uncover it and compilation to put it in a format you prefer.

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CB's picture

@edg

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edg's picture

@CB

I might do an essay on it in a day or two, but it requires a lot of research and compilation. Also keep in mind that many medical supplies are manufactured in China. Our corporations and political leaders decimated our domestic capabilities a long time ago.

Edit: H1N1 was more of a young people's disease so the death rate was not as high. They had far fewer preexisting conditions and underlying weaknesses.

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edg's picture

@CB

As I point out up above, a public health emergency was declared 11 days after the first case was confirmed. And a national emergency 6 weeks after that. If you were president, what could you have done faster?

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CB's picture

@edg
other than spread disinformation about the situation.

I would have worked closely with China if I were president. It was obvious the Chinese had a complete grip on the situation once they learned what they were up against.

Trump appears to be giving out some info on what his admin is doing at this time on his live daily briefing.

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edg's picture

@CB

China: mass lockdown of villages, towns and cities

US: 10 Popular Spring Break Party Spots

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CB's picture

@edg
The people didn't like it but they accepted it.

The US will now be having it's very own Wuhan as we speak.

https://ncov2019.live/
(confirmed - deaths)
★ New York 25,665 ↑ 4,790 (22.94%) 210 ↑ 53 (33.75%)

This is now coming at NYC way faster than it did in Wuhan. I wonder how the US will handle it compared to China in the coming weeks/months.

Fortunately for China, the CCP reacted so quick that they had only one epicenter to deal with.

Unfortunately for the US, I can see 6 Wuhan type epicenters developing. We Americans are in for some major hurt.

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Hawkfish's picture

@CB

Sticking pretty close to the trend line (John Hopkins data. Still working on a publicly consumable version). That will get ugly real fast.

Washington (where I live) has bent the curve. There is still a 14 days lag but fingers crossed. The WA example may provide a model that will work nationwide: massive social distancing and business shutdowns. Still we have a lot going for us: tech workers and relatively low population densities, which may not translate everywhere.

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We can’t save the world by playing by the rules, because the rules have to be changed.
- Greta Thunberg

in my essay.
I won't contest it.

compared to how H1N1 was handled, Trump is moving at warp speed

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Trump administration failures, Obama administration failures, all show the same thing, that our federal government at the highest level is not motivated to protect public health.

In linking to intelligence agency failure up thread I wanted to keep their part of this problem in the discussion. I see the so-called Intelligence Community as public enemy number one. But I share the outrage over Trump's behavior and over the Democrats not having prepared for this possibility before Trump ever thought of becoming President.

To suggest that this possibility was inconceivable is just plain absurd. And we learned immediately after the anthrax attack that our country had then, and went on to expand, illegal biological weapons research projects, which made the attack possible. So for all these years we have contined such weapons research but somehow haven't managed to foresee and prepare for a public health emergency of this kind.

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edg's picture

@Linda Wood

Great comment, Linda. I add these two things:

Impeachment

Impeachment of Donald Trump: House hearing in December, 2019. Senate trial in January, 2020. Acquittal on February 5, 2020.

That had an effect, wasting time and energy that could otherwise have been spent on the emerging virus threat. As well as making Trump gun-shy and afraid to say anything Democrats could use against him.

Media Sensationalism

Most importantly, the strong association of coronavirus coverage with Donald Trump in the U.S. and the economy globally suggests the outbreak is being contextualized as a political and economic story -- delivering a dose of panic in the process -- rather than a public health emergency that requires clinical and dispassionate reporting.

Source: Real Clear Politics -- Media Coverage and Coronavirus Panic: What the Numbers Show

That media-generated panic was what Trump was trying to combat when he was downplaying the severity. Not the brightest move, but coming right off impeachment into a hyped-up health emergency made everything worse than it should have been.

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CB's picture

@edg
leader in the coming months? How would you compare him to other world leaders such as Xi Jinping and Vladimir Putin in handling this pandemic?

Both these men are now taking full advantage of the complete failure of America to take charge of this pandemic on a global scale. They each are sending dozens of medical teams and hundreds of tons of materiel to afflicted countries throughout the world. Meanwhile, the US is struggling within it's own borders to contain the pandemic and protect it's citizens.

When this is finally over, it will be a different world.

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edg's picture

@CB

He's marginal at best. And when he's criticized, he's not even that.

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@edg Please. He knew he had a solid firewall with his loyal Rs in the senate. Acquittal was always in the bag. And conmen bullies like Donald are never shy about anything, except maybe telling the truth, and listening to reason and science.

With a solid lock to skate away scot free, he only had to carve out a few hours from golfing at one of his resorts to listen to his science/medical advisers about what was happening in January in China then in SK and get the government and the public prepared. He didn't do that or anything close.

But Donald is only about the bucks, his own primarily, and his re-election. And he didn't want to hear about quarantines and lockdowns as it would effect the economy and the stocks. His public comments in the Jan-Feb-early Mar period reflect his ignorant, pinched attitude about the deadly virus and his total lack of awareness of the seriousness of the pandemic.

It's been an appallingly feeble, uncaring and criminally negligent national response by the Trump admin. The poll numbers for him on handling the crisis would be much lower but for the appallingly feeble, unorganized response by Dems overall, and the PR gift given him by Joe, Nancy and Chuck with their clunky and tepid proposals.

But if Donnie decides to plow ahead recklessly with an Easter unlocking of the lockdown, let's see how the polls and re-elect prospects look with skyrocketing numbers of confirmed cases and deaths coupled with a still plunging economy. I would imagine running on a Plague and Depression platform wouldn't be ideal for his political prospects for November.

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edg's picture

@wokkamile

Like many bullies, he's an insecure little boy underneath. He lashes out and throws tantrums when criticized. He's desperate for approval and tells people what he thinks they want to hear. Any perceived lack of shyness is sheer bluff.

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snoopydawg's picture

@Linda Wood

That they are keeping ByeDone as their candidate for now should be depraved indifference because they have a much better candidate ready to go from day one. But as someone mentioned in another essay today the orange blob will not tolerate any criticism of their guy who has mental issues. I posted a comment yesterday from a staff member wondering if it's just Russian trolls spreading the rumor or Bernie supporters. That they continue to believe that Joe just has a stuttering problem is mind boggling. They think his speech yesterday should win the Nobel prize when he barely got the words out in the proper order. "But he's 10 x better than Trump. Hmmm I wonder how many people got hurt when Obama cut $5 billion from SNAP? BTW he's on Twitter lecturing Trump about health care. Sigh.

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America is a pathetic nation; a fascist state fueled by the greed, malice, and stupidity of her own people.
- strife delivery