In 2020 Marc Short, the chief of staff to then-Vice President Mike Pence, made a fateful decision that paved the way for the politicization of wearing masks. Had he chosen differently there's no question countless lives could have been saved.
Short, who once served as the executive director of the far right Young America's Foundation, "focused on the political and economic implications of the coronavirus response and approached many public health decisions by considering how they would be perceived," The Washington Post reveals. That report comes from a deep-dive into the Trump pandemic response detailed in the new book, “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration's Response to the Pandemic That Changed History," by Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta.
In possibly the most damaging of those decisions, Short nixed a plan, which was far along enough to have a PR campaign already created, to send face masks to every household in America. The Dept. of Health and Human Services was backing the program, while other reports have revealed the U.S. Postal Service was also working on it.
If it had been executed, "some public health experts think [it] would have depoliticized mask-wearing," The Post reports, but Short believed it "would unnecessarily alarm people."
Previous Post reporting revealed the program would have flooded the nation with 650 million face masks, five for every U.S. household.
Short has a long history of focusing on optics instead of fact-based communication to the public. As far back as the 1990's he labeled efforts to educate the public that HIV and AIDS do not only affect gay people a “propaganda campaign," a “distortion campaign," and “intentional deception."
And he called gay people “sodomites," while attacking “the perverted lifestyles homosexuals pursue," and delivered a warning to not “glorify homosexuals' repugnant practices."
Short tested positive for coronavirus in October.
Americans were already alarmed, but Short's and the White House's focus on optics and pretending the coronavirus was not as dangerous and deadly as it in fact is, according to Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House Coronavirus Response Coordinator, led to hundreds of thousands of deaths that could have been avoided.