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Trump visits a mask factory, with his mouth uncovered, and is greeted with the song "Live and let die". Credit: Tom Brenne.
Trump visits a mask factory, with his mouth uncovered, and is greeted with the song "Live and let die". Credit: Tom Brenne.

Trump is ready to say: 'Nothing happened here'

The Trump Administration announced that its Coronavirus pandemic task force is "winding down," even though cases continue to rise daily.

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President Trump and his team are so convinced that the Coronavirus is a thing of the past that they visit plants and hospitals without masks or visible protection.

And if the president does, the rest of the country follows suit.

Officials announced to the media Tuesday that "so much progress" has been made in controlling the pandemic in the country that they plan to "reduce the task force" on the coronavirus in the coming weeks and "focus the White House on reviving the economy," according to the New York Times.

“Vice President Mike Pence, who has led the task force for two months, said it would probably wrap up its work around the end of the May, and shift management of the public health response back to the federal agencies whose work it was created to coordinate,” the media added.

Similarly, other officials said the White House plans to consult with medical experts "on a more informal basis," and to have Jared Kushner "push" for progress on vaccine development.

However, when world leaders met Monday to organize funding and efforts to find a vaccine as soon as possible, the U.S. government was conspicuous by its absence.

Also, in keeping with the Trump administration's erratic response to the pandemic from the beginning, the decision to end the coronavirus task force was announced just after new estimates emerged that COVID-19 deaths in the country are expected to double during August.

That would mean about 150,000 deaths.

The supposed task force, consisting of Vice President Mike Pence, Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar and Secretary of the Treasury Steve Mnuchin, has not exactly been the team behind direct communication with the country about the steps being taken to mitigate the social effect of the pandemic.

On the contrary, it has been the president himself who has used the daily briefings to monopolize the discourse –in a rather campaign-like setup– to dismiss the true impact of the virus on the country.

"They knew"

Dr. Rick Bright, a federal scientist who headed the office of vaccine development oversight, and who claims to have been removed from his post after questioning the effectiveness of the anti-malarial drug that the president advertised as a solution to the coronavirus, has openly denounced government negligence since the beginning of the pandemic.

In a complaint filed Tuesday, Dr. Bright describes "a staggering degree of inaction" by the administration, despite having timely information on the danger of the virus, the "critical shortage" of protective supplies, and the urgency of developing a vaccine.

"Despite Dr. Bright’s efforts to ensure that the U.S. government dedicated the appropriate resources and expert personnel to combat this deadly virus, HHS political leadership leveled baseless criticisms against him for his proactive efforts to invest early in vaccine development as well as in critical supplies such as masks, respirators, and swabs, which were in short supply and would be necessary to combat COVID-19,” the complaint says.

“Thereafter, HHS political leadership retaliated against Dr. Bright for his objections and resistance to funding potentially dangerous drugs promoted by those with political connections and by the Administration itself.”

Supporting his allegations with emails and documents, Dr. Bright also accused HHS of "cronyism" and the awarding of contracts to companies with political connections to the Administration.

With respect to the supply of N95 masks, for example, Bright claims that, as soon as January 21, his office was contacted by Mike Bowen, co-owner and Executive Vice President of national surgical mask manufacturer Prestige Ameritech, who claimed he had signed a contract with the Department of Homeland Security for the production of the necessary equipment.

However, Prestige Ameritech fell short.

Similarly, the government refused to inject funds into developing a vaccine, preferred to try to sell the use of contraindicated drugs like hydroxychloroquine to the public, eventually got rid of Dr. Bright, and now wants to pretend nothing happened here.

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