Mike Pence Visits Virginia While Actively Botching Coronavirus Response
RICHMOND, VA — Today, Mike Pence, the leader of President Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force, decided to waste valuable time and resources, ignore travel warnings, and put Virginians’ lives at risk when he flew to the Commonwealth with Sec. of Agriculture Sonny Perdue to stage a photo-op at a Walmart Distribution Center. This unnecessary visit diverted resources at a time when we’re already under-equipped in the fight against COVID-19. That Pence decided this was worth his time in the midst of a crisis is another example of his, and the administration’s, profound lack of sound judgment.
It is clear every day that the Trump administration has never prioritized public health. Here is a reminder of some ways they continue to endanger lives in Virginia and across the country, as the number of cases in the US approaches 200,000:
- Donald Trump continues to deny the extensively documented ventilator shortage. When asked Friday if everyone who needs a ventilator will be able to get one, Trump got angry and obfuscated. “Don’t be a cutie pie,” he said to the reporter, and didn’t answer the question.
- When Governor Andrew Cuomo, at the advice of experts, asked for a minimum of 30,000 ventilators in preparation of the climax of the outbreak, Trump scoffed, saying, “you go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators,” completely underestimating the scope of the problem.
- After wasting valuable time by refusing to invoke the Defense Production Act, Trump finally ordered GM to produce ventilators under the statute, but because of delays, the company said shipments won’t be ready until mid-April.
- The national shortage of supplies means hospital systems, the federal government, and states including Virginia are on the market bidding against each other for what supplies that are currently available. Governor Ralph Northam has called for a “national solution” to the shortage of protective equipment.
- Meanwhile, health care workers are lamenting a shortage of supplies which have endangered their teams. A nurse in New York has died from coronavirus, and medical workers across the country are having to improvise.
- In another example of his usual spread of misinformation, Trump incorrectly said the FDA has approved a drug for treatment of COVID-19, which the FDA said was not true. Trump’s claims during a briefing that the drug is a “game changer” had to be corrected by Dr. Anthony Fauci in the same briefing.
- Trump squandered critical time available to distribute essential personal protective equipment (PPE), tests, and other supplies. While Trump promised for weeks to provide states with these critical medical supplies, states have not received much or any of what Trump promised and it is unclear when critical supplies will arrive.
And Pence has hardly been an effective member of the taskforce. On Friday, Trump said he instructed Pence not to call governors who are not adequately appreciative of the president. “If they don’t treat you right, I don’t call,” Trump said, effectively discouraging outreach to governors who desperately need federal aid. “It doesn’t make any difference what happens,” Trump said. He seems to be the only one who has failed to realize that every decision makes a difference.