According to a report from Politico, the White House has become gravely concerned that the so-far bumbling response to the coronavirus could have a long term effect on Donald Trump’s drive to remain in the White House beyond 2020.
The report notes that “The Trump administration is bracing for a possible coronavirus outbreak in the United States that could sicken thousands — straining the government’s public health response and threatening an economic slowdown in the heat of President Donald Trump’s reelection campaign.”
With two officials stating they believe that the “coronavirus is already spreading undetected” in the U.S., Politico also notes that the president is attempting to downplay the threat in public at the same time that he is voicing major concern about how it might affect his political future.
According to the report, Trump has been rebuking “public health leaders over last week’s decision to fly home 14 Americans who tested positive for the virus while aboard a cruise ship off Japan,” and worries that more carriers may come into the country.
In an interview, Chris Meekins, a former Trump administration HHS emergency-preparedness official stated, “The biggest current threat to the president’s reelection is this thing getting out of control and creating a health and economic impact.”
Politico goes on to report that despite assurances from HHS, the Trump White House is very concerned about how the department is responding.
“But there has been tension within the Trump administration over the response so far. Four officials acknowledged that the process has hit bumps, with high-pressure debates over resources and planning occasionally reopening fault lines between the White House and HHS that first emerged over Trump’s broader health agenda,” the report notes. “Meanwhile, the White House remains worried about growing economic risks, with Chinese production plunging in recent weeks and U.S. companies like Apple and Walmart with significant investments in the country reporting they’re taking financial hits. Senior officials fear that a sustained outbreak could slow global markets and upend a strong U.S. economy that has been central to Trump’s political pitch.”
“The administration’s fumbled evacuation of about 400 Americans from the marooned cruise ship brought into focus multiple gaps in preparedness, said four individuals with knowledge of the episode,” Politico added.
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