According to an extensive report by the Washington Post, the White House task force charged with stemming the deadly coronavirus pandemic is still struggling to get their arms around how to deal with the crisis and President Donald Trump is not helping matters.
With the report noting that there are multiple groups working on the COVID-19 response -- described as a "bureaucratic nesting doll of groups with frequently competing aims and agendas" -- the Post notes that the task force is lagging way behind where it should be.
"There is still no concerted plan for getting vital medical supplies to states, which are left to fight among themselves or seek favors from Trump. There is also no developed plan for what happens if cases or deaths spike as people begin to return to work, or how to respond if the coronavirus surges again in the fall, as many public health experts and administration officials fear," the report states. "Two task force officials said that more important even than nationwide testing is surveillance — using data to make informed decisions about public health. But the administration has not fully grappled with the sheer manpower and resources required for an effort like contact tracing — and right now, there are not even enough coronavirus tests for those who need them, let alone the entire country."
According to Jack Chow, a former George W. Bush administration official who dealt with the global HIV/AIDS crisis, Trump's people are unable to get ahead of "the curve."
“The whole response has been lagging the curve of the epidemic, and what ought to be happening is the designation of key strategic goals, key accomplishments that can happen within a specified timeline,” Chow explained. “It sounds like they’re groping for that. There isn’t any clear direction as to what the strategic goals are in each different line of effort, and what the prospective timeline could be given the assets they have to deploy.”
As the Post reports, "One of the biggest obstacles to the virus response is Trump himself."
"Even the most dutiful plans and projects often get caught up in the chaos of the White House. Advisers spend significant time trying to manage the president and his whims — from successfully dissuading him from seeking to reopen the country at Easter to tempering his impulse to push unproven drugs as miracle elixirs," the report continues, before adding that the president reportedly suggested letting the coronavirus "wash over" the country in an effort to develop herd immunity, only to have an "alarmed" Dr. Anthony Fauci tell him, "Mr. President, many people would die.”
The report goes on to note that the task force meetings helmed by Vice President Mike Pence rarely move the ball forward.
"Despite the debates, few actual decisions are made. Instead, Pence tries to reach a consensus and then bring it to the president for approval. Decisions made in the room are often undermined by Trump, and some discussions, such as guidance on wearing masks, stretched on for weeks. Several officials say the meetings are rarely, in the words of one senior administration official who has attended many of them, 'where the real action happens.'" the Post reports.
You can read more here.