US Very Ready for Widespread Coronavirus Outbreak?
According to the American Public Health Association (APHA), Trump’s FY 2020 budget proposed cutbacks to vital public health programs and services.
Since taking office in January 2017, he prioritized increased military spending, tax cuts for the rich, and other pro-corporate America benefits at the expense of vital social programs.
In March 2017, APHA executive director Georges Benjamin slammed his “fiscal agenda that…undermine(s) the health and well-being of Americans,” adding:
“Cuts to these agencies would threaten programs that protect the public from the next infectious disease outbreak…and our growing chronic disease epidemic.”
In mid-February, an APHA news release accused the Trump regime of failing “to adequately fund and protect important health programs and the health of people living in the US…since its first day.”
His proposed FY 2020 budget omits $900 million needed for the Prevention and Public Health Fund, Benjamin adding:
“Public health agencies have already been operating on shoestring budgets for years, and more cuts will only weaken our nation’s ability to respond to existing and emerging threats to our health.”
Trump’s proposed budget calls a $17.9 billion cut to the Department of Health and Human Services.
It includes reduction or elimination of Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) programs that are essential to public health.
According to National Association of County and City Health Officials interim executive director Laura Hanen:
Trump regime “disinvestment in public health programs will only cost this nation more in the end,” adding:
His “budget makes deep cuts that will negatively impact CDC and state and local health departments’ ability to do their job — which is to keep our communities healthy and safe.”
Programs affected include HIV/AIDS special projects, maternal and child health services, rural health services, the EPA, Medicaid and Medicaid, food stamps, initiatives to combat the opioid crisis, along with failing to properly address a possible widespread COVID-19 outbreak.
Trump defied reality claiming that the US is “very, very ready…rated No. 1 at being prepared” to deal with the coronavirus that already spread to dozens of countries worldwide, adding:
“I think that is a problem that is going to go away” — at a time when unknown numbers of Americans may already be infected, unwittingly spreading the disease to others by direct contact.
According to the CDC on Wednesday, there are 14 confirmed cases in the US, 12 travel-related, only 445 Americans tested.
NaturalNews.com explained that “virtually no tests for the coronavirus are being conducted in the United States, and the CDC’s diagnostic test kits sent to state labs on Feb. 5th turned out to be faulty…and the CDC still hasn’t figure out how to replace the faulty kits with anything that functions.”
Growing numbers of countries are testing thousands of people for possible COVID-19 infection, the US only a few hundred with faulty kits.
How can the US be ready for possible widespread outbreaks when it hasn’t properly tested people at a time when the Trump regime sharply cut public health funding.
CNBC reported that only three US states are testing residents by sending blood samples to the CDC for analysis.
Seasonal flu kills tens of thousands of Americans annually. According to medical science experts, the mortality rate from COVID-19 could be 20 or more times times greater if a widespread outbreak occurs.
While it’s unknown how many US citizens, residents and visitors may be infected, the true number may already be in the thousands, especially in cities where large numbers of people come in contact with each other, increasing the proliferation risk — Trump falsely claiming things are OK.
Ignoring reality, he tweeted the following on Thursday:
“(T)he coronavirus, which started in China and spread to various countries throughout the world, but very slowly in the US because President Trump closed our border, and ended flights, VERY EARLY…”
“Only a very small number in US & China numbers look to be going down. All countries working well together.”
Despite no reported cases in the city so far, San Francisco declared a state of emergency. So did Orange County in southern California despite no reported infections.
According to the World Health Organization, cases worldwide began exceeding numbers reported in China, the outbreak’s epicenter and most affected country so far.
Given risks to public health in the US before the COVID-19 outbreak, Congress let Trump cut funding for programs essential to the health and welfare of ordinary Americans.
On Tuesday, US National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases director Nancy Messonnier issued a warning, saying:
“It’s not so much of a question of if this will happen in this country any more but a question of when this will happen. We are asking the American public to prepare for the expectation that this might be bad,” adding:
Her agency is “preparing as if we are going to see community spread in the near term (that could lead to a) disruption to everyday life.”
Yet for past three years, the Trump regime gutted programs to deal with public health issues like COVID-19.
In 2018 alone, the CDC cut 80% of its efforts to prevent a global disease outbreak that could spread to the US for lack of funding.
According to Foreign Policy magazine, Trump “sabotaged America’s coronavirus response.”
His regime shut down the National Security Council’s global health security unit.
He ordered elimination of a $30 million public health crisis fund.
He reduced national health-related spending by $15 billion.
In February, he requested $2.5 billion in emergency funding to deal with a possible widespread COVID-19 US outbreak.
Much more is needed. China is spending many billions of dollars and doing whatever it takes to contain the virus, including free testing and treatment of infected individuals.
In the US, healthcare depends on the ability to pay. How many potentially infected Americans will skip treatment because of unaffordability?
How many others will they infect?
On Tuesday, the Bulletin Bulletin of the Atomic Scientists warned that Trump regime cuts to public health programs made the US “more vulnerable to threats like disease outbreaks,” adding:
Neither he or his predecessors had or currently have “biodefense plans” to properly deal with something like a widespread COVID-19 outbreak.
Trump appointed evangelical science-denier Mike Pence as coronavirus czar.
According to Epidemiology of Microbial Diseases Professor Gregg Gonsalves, his appointment of Pence is like “putting an arsonist in charge of the fire department (or) a bank robber in charge of the US Mint.”
In March 2018, the Trump regime’s global health security team was disbanded. The CDC is hamstrung by inadequate funding. A Complex Crisis Fund was eliminated.
Trump regime indifference to the health and welfare of ordinary Americans comes at a time when all-out efforts should be prioritized to deal with a potential widespread COVID-19 outbreak — including free testing and treatment of infected individuals.
When governance of, by and for all Americans is most needed, it’s absent in Washington under both right wings of the one-party state.
My newest book as editor and contributor is titled “Flashpoint in Ukraine: How the US Drive for Hegemony Risks WW III.”