An extensive report by Vanity Fair lays out how a team led by presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner took a program designed to respond to the coronavirus pandemic earlier this year and scrapped it for political reasons. In particular, a public health expert “in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force” said that members of this team felt that addressing a crisis primarily hitting heavily Democratic states wasn’t good strategy.
“The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said this expert.
The pandemic initially hit New York City hardest, turning it into the national epicenter of the crisis. However, as time went on and the first wave turned into an even bigger wave, outbreaks have spread across the nation and are now out of control throughout the South and Midwest, where many red states are located.
The initial plan to combat the pandemic, which was ready by early April, focused largely on testing and gave the federal government a much larger role in operating testing sites and labs.
“Rather than have states fight each other for scarce diagnostic tests and limited lab capacity, the plan would have set up a system of national oversight and coordination to surge supplies, allocate test kits, lift regulatory and contractual roadblocks, and establish a widespread virus surveillance system by the fall, to help pinpoint subsequent outbreaks,” Katherine Eban reports.
However, at the end of April, Trump announced an entirely different plan that would leave most of the responsibility up to individual states. This led to mass confusion and competition between states, who seemed to get drastically different responses from the White House when requesting supplies and had to fight to outbid each other just to get basic PPE.
Both those working on and counting on the original plan were shocked and appalled.
“I had this naive optimism: This is too important to be caught in a partisan filter of how we view truth and the world,” said Rockefeller Foundation adviser Rick Klausner. “But the federal government has decided to abrogate responsibility, and basically throw 50 states onto their own.”
This revelation that the U.S. response to the coronavirus pandemic, largely viewed to have been a botched nightmare, was due to politics via a team led by Jared Kushner, is not sitting well with Democrats and others affected by the pandemic. Some are calling for him to resign, while others think he should be tried for crimes against humanity.