The poor federal response to the COVID-19 crisis has become even lighter on details in recent days as the Trump administration pushes hard on a message of "reopening" while leaving out any data or expertise that might conflict with that focus.
The White House has done everything possible to minimize messaging that might scare Americans into staying home and instead "relies on tightly controlling information" about the novel coronavirus disease, the Washington Post reports.
A source the Post described as a senior administration official told the paper that the task force addressing the crisis was already meeting less often before President Donald Trump said Wednesday its focus would be shifting away from emergency management and toward economic reopening. Public health warnings are scaring people, the source added, so the administration has been downplaying them.
The White House expressly prohibited task force members from accepting invitations to Congressional hearings, following a request from a House subcommittee. Members of the task force, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, are however scheduled to testify before the Senate this month about the administration's response. Trump on Tuesday told reporters the difference is one of politics, saying, "The House is a setup. The House is a bunch of Trump haters."
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which one would ordinarily expect to be heavily involved in managing a pandemic, has been kept quiet since March. The agency's last press briefing on the novel coronavirus was March 9, when about 20 people in the US were known to have died due to COVID-19. As of today, more than 75,000 people in the US have died as a result of the disease.
Yesterday, the AP made public a leaked 17-page reopening guide put together by the CDC. Administration officials allegedly told the CDC that its report, which included detailed guidelines for industries such as restaurants and child care, would "never see the light of day."
The void made by the absence of CDC press conferences has instead been filled with messaging directly from the White House, such as Trump's infamously absurd suggestion to America to consider injections of bleach or other disinfectants to cure the disease. (A reminder: Do not do this.) In the past week, White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany has taken over the briefings, and she continues to push the administration's messaging about economic recovery.
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