A former health adviser to Donald Trump was grilled on CNN Tuesday morning over the fact that the current administration was handed a briefing book on possible pandemic scenarios back in 2016 and but did not follow it, with the host emphasizing, “doctors are dying.”
Speaking with Poppy Harlow, infectious disease epidemiologist Katy Talento was attempting to make the case that there will be time later to figure out what went wrong with the response to the COVID-19 pandemic under the president’s stewardship when the CNN host brought up the briefing book that outlined actions that government could take to stem such an event.
“As someone who advised the president and his team on health issues and who has the background that you have, what do you think the impact has been of the president for weeks until recently downplaying the magnitude of this pandemic and saying things like just in mid-march, he said it is something nobody expected when we now know there was this 69-page briefing book put together by the NSC that played out what happens in a pandemic and asks questions like is there sufficient personal protective equipment for healthcare workers who are providing medical care?” host Harlow asked. “I ask this of all the doctors out there, the ones in Brownsville, Brooklyn, who told us yesterday they’re going to Home Depot, some of them, to buy protective gear.”
“That guidance in 2016 was not taken by the administration, what can we learn from it going forward?” she pressed.
“I think the president isn’t always briefed on every single preparedness activity that is going on at the staff level and I’m actually encouraged that those plans and those conversations were going on. I know that the global health team both –,” Talento attempted before being cut off.
“They didn’t heed the advice and the president is saying no one thought anything like this could happen, but they did,” Harlow reminded her.
“A lot of people in the White House and in all the agencies of course did think something like this could happen. The fact that there is a briefing book shows you that everyone was thinking about this — just six months prior to this event the president signed an executive order on pandemic flu preparedness,” Talento parried.
“But, Katy, why — my question is it is great to have a briefing book,” the CNN host shot back. “But if it is not utilized, and if there are doctors dying right now, and nurses dying right now, and first responders without the proper gear, I’m asking what lessons can be learned and applied for the future?”
“It is a good question,” the CNN guest conceded. “I think that’s probably one of the most important lessons is the role of our state partners. I will say that the states are an integral essential part of our pandemic preparedness efforts over the past years and years and those essential partners really have the freedom to stockpile things for their own people and not be at the mercy of the federal government.”