President Donald Trump joked on Wednesday about the public health panic caused by the coronavirus, blaming the botched U.S. response on an “Obama rule” and congratulating himself for fixing the problem.
Eleven people have died from the virus in the U.S.
Blaming President Barack Obama is one of Trump’s three favorite propaganda categories, New York Magazine reported. The other two are “We Are Winning” and “It’s A Hoax.”
The Trump administration was criticized for its coronavirus response when the CDC distributed faulty testing kits in early February. As of last week, the CDC had allowed just 12 labs to test for the virus. Critics questioned why the U.S. didn’t simply use a test that was approved by the World Health Organization and has been used in other countries.
Trump blamed an Obama-era FDA rule that required any lab-developed test to be approved by the FDA. He canceled that requirement on Saturday and congratulated himself on Wednesday for acting “very quickly”.
“That was a very big move,” Trump said during a meeting with airline executives, New York Post reported. “It was something we had to do and we did it very quickly. And now we have tremendous flexibility, many many more sites, many many more people, and you couldn’t have had that under the Obama rule and we ended that rule very quickly.”
The liberalized testing has a market aspect. It will allow more labs to create their own tests, and the White House predicts a boom in processing, the Post reported.
By Friday of this week, “close to 1 million tests will be able to be performed,” FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn said on Monday.
Vice President Mike Pence held a teleconference on Tuesday with corporate lab executives to discuss expanding testing. The lab business leaders visited the White House on Wednesday, meeting with Pence and other members of the White House coronavirus task force.
So if there was an Obama decision hampering the government’s response, and MAGA had the power to rescind it, why did he wait until the virus had already started spreading in the U.S.?
Trump has blamed Obama for the temperature in the Oval Office; his decision to rehire _Mike Flynn; anti-Trump protests and building a non-existent wall. And now the botched coronavirus response. Trump suggests “the insane lack of testing of Americans presenting symptoms of the deadly disease is actually the fault of a guy who left office more than three years ago,” according to Vanity Fair.
There was bipartisan support for regulating lab-developed tests, the Post reported. “That was a decision we disagreed with,” Trump said. “I don’t think we would have made it, but for some reason it was made. But we’ve undone that decision.”
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Trump critics won’t forget that the MAGA administration crippled the capacity of the National Security Council’s global health security unit created to counter pandemics along with its counterpart at the Department of Homeland Security. The Trump administration also appointed Alex Azar, a pharmaceutical lobbyist, to run the Department of Health and Human Services.
Here’s a brief history of Azar’s leadership in the time of coronavirus as head of HHS, according to Vanity’s Fair’s Bess Levin: Azar “reportedly failed to coordinate an effective response due to distrust of his own aides and a desire not to ‘offend’ the president. And told officials ‘not to do or say anything’ re: the virus that would ‘spook the markets,’ including, apparently, telling the truth or devising a plan of action that doesn’t sound like it was drawn up by Don Jr. and Eric from their super secret clubhouse with the ‘NO GIRLS ALLOWED’ sign.'”
At the meeting on Wednesday, MAGA joked about the public health panic, saying, “I haven’t touched my face in weeks — I miss it.”