On Friday, President Donald Trump attempted to shift the blame for his administrations’ heavily criticized response to the spread of COVID-19 to former President Barack Obama and the Centers For Disease Control and Prevention, a federal agency which his administration has overseen for more than three years.
What We Know:
- “For decades the CDC looked at, and studied, its testing system, but did nothing about it. It would always be inadequate and slow for a large scale pandemic, but a pandemic would never happen, they hoped,” stated Trump.
“President Obama made changes that only complicated things further. Their response to H1N1 Swine Flu was a full-scale disaster, with thousands dying, and nothing meaningful done to fix the testing problem, until now. The changes have been made and testing will soon happen on a very large-scale basis. All red tape has been cut, ready to go.”
- Former Obama aides also pointed out that 1 million people were tested for H1N1 within a month of the first case. The Obama administration acted months before the World Health Organization declared H1N1 a pandemic.
- By comparison, there have been fewer that 15,000 COVID-19 tests performed in the U.S. In comparison, other countries like South Korea are testing up to 20,000 people each day.
- Trump administration officials told lawmakers yesterday that the U.S. tested about 11,000 people during the first seven weeks of the outbreak – roughly as many as South Korea is testing each day.
- Trump, who spent weeks downplaying the coronavirus before declaring it a national emergency on Friday, argued that the health care system was designed for an outbreak on the scale of coronavirus “with the kind of numbers that we are talking about”.
- Trump previously tried to score political points by blaming former Vice President Joe Biden, alleging that his response to the H1N1 epidemic was “one of the worst on record”.
- Obama and Biden declared a public health emergency after there were 20 confirmed cases of H1N1. By comparison, there are at least 1,660 COVID-19 cases in the U.S. (though experts believe there could be thousands more) and at least 41 deaths.
After weeks of delays, the administration finally announced Friday that the FDA will speed up the availability of COVID-19 tests, though experts predict that will change little since so many cases of the virus went undetected for months.