A pandemic ‘plan’ that Donald Trump’s press secretary waved at reporters on Thursday to show the president was in control of the coronavirus outbreak had been savaged by another report – that she was also holding.
Trump insisted on Thursday that he did have a playbook to battle the pandemic as a whistleblower testified on Capitol Hill that a ‘dark winter’ was ahead because of a lack of ‘standard, centralized, coordinated plan.’
The president, before he left to visit a medical supply factory in Allentown, Pennsylvania, had his press secretary Kayleigh McEnany wave before reporters a binder containing the 2018 ‘Pandemic Crisis Action Plan Ver. 2.0.’
But she was also holding an after-action report from the ‘Crimson Contagion’ simulation exercise which took place in 2019 — which harshly criticized the federal government’s pandemic preparedness plan in the other binder.
The simulated scenario tested the capacity of the U.S. federal government and 12 states to handle a severe influenza outbreak originating in China, and warned of a disorganized response, funding shortfalls, and dangerous shortages of ventilators and medical masks.
White House Press Secretary Kayleigh McEnany brandished this binder containing the January 2018 ‘Pandemic Crisis Action Plan Ver. 2.0.’ to prove Trump had a plan for an outbreak
She also carried the 2019 after-action report from the Crimson Contagion wargame, which harshly criticized the federal government’s pandemic preparedness
McEnany is seen wielding the Crimson Contagion after-action report. A leaked draft of the report shows that it predicted serious flaws in federal pandemic preparedness
McEnany said of the two binders: ‘So what our administration did, under the leadership of President Trump, is do an entire 2018 Pandemic Preparedness Report … Beyond that, we did a whole exercise on pandemic preparedness in August of last year and had an entire after-action report put together.’
While McEnany didn’t offer details on what was in the 2018 Trump ‘plan,’ the ‘Crimson Contagion’ report references it on several occasions, pointing out its shortfalls.
For one, the 2018 plan, and another from 2017, ‘do not outline the organization structure of the federal government when HHS is designated as the lead federal agency’ to handle a pandemic.
The ‘Crimson Contagion’ after-action report talks of ‘confusion’ between various federal agencies on the role they would play dealing with this type of crisis.
It also warned that exercise participants were not clear how they would use the Defense Production Act ‘to mitigate medical countermeasure and ancillary supply shortages during an influenza pandemic response.’
As well, it said ‘there are insufficient funding sources designated for the federal government to use in response to a severe influenza pandemic.’
The report also stated bluntly: ‘The current medical countermeasure supply chain and production capacity cannot meet the demands imposed by nations during a global influenza pandemic.’
McEnany told reporters she would further talk about what Trump’s plan had been in the Friday briefing.
‘We’ll have a full update tomorrow for you guys at the briefing – line by line – of how prepared we were for the pandemic,’ McEnany said.
McEnany also criticized the pandemic plan left by the Obama administration (above)
McEnany also showed reporters a copy of the ‘Playbook for early response to high consequence emerging infectious disease threats and biological incidents,’ which was the document the Obama administration left for the Trump administration.
The page was labelled ‘table of contents’ and had hand writing all over it.
McEnany called the document left by President Barack Obama ‘insufficient’ and used the occasion to also take a hit at Joe Biden, the Democrats’ presumptive presidential nominee.
‘The Obama-Biden plan has been referenced. It was insufficient, wasn’t going to work,’ she said.
Trump complained ‘we were given very little’ when they took over the White House.
The administration’s response came as Dr. Rick Bright, the HHS whistleblower, told lawmakers on Capitol Hill that the Trump administration’s slow response to the coronavirus ‘put lives at risk.’
‘Without better planning 2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history,’ Bright warned.
‘The window is closing to address this pandemic, because we still do not have a standard, centralized, coordinated plan to take our nation through this response,’ he explained, when questioned about his dire warning.
Coronavirus has infected more than 1.43 million people in the United States and caused more than 85,000 deaths.
Last week, former President Barack Obama called the Trump administration’s response an ‘absolute chaotic disaster.
‘What we’re fighting against is these long-term trends in which being selfish, being tribal, being divided, and seeing others as an enemy – that has become a stronger impulse in American life,’ Obama said on a call obtained by Yahoo News.
‘And by the way, we’re seeing that internationally as well,’ he noted, adding ‘It’s part of the reason why the response to this global crisis has been so anemic and spotty.’
‘It has been an absolute chaotic disaster when that mindset – of ‘what’s in it for me’ and ‘to heck with everybody else’ – when that mindset is operationalized in our government.’
Obama added: ‘That’s why, I, by the way, am going to be spending as much time as necessary and campaigning as hard as I can for Joe Biden.’
Dr. Rick Bright warned Congress that ‘2020 could be the darkest winter in modern history’ if a strategy isn’t deployed to get the coronavisus pandemic under control before fall
Former President Barack Obama (left) blasted President Trump’s (right) handling of the COVID-19 pandemic as an ‘absolute chaotic disaster’
Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell criticized the former president, claiming he didn’t leave a plan to fight pandemics when he left the White House.
‘They claim pandemics only happen once every hundred years but what if that’s no longer true? We want to be early, ready for the next one, because clearly the Obama administration did not leave to this administration any kind of game plan for something like this,’ McConnell said.
But former Obama officials have struck back.
‘We literally left them a 69-page Pandemic Playbook…. that they ignored. And an office called the Pandemic Preparedness Office… that they abolished. And a global monitoring system called PREDICT .. that they cut by 75%,’ Ronald Klain, a campaign adviser to Biden and the former Obama administration Ebola response coordinator, wrote on Twitter last week.
The Obama playbook, which was 40 pages plus appendices, contained step-by-step advice on questions to ask, decisions to make, and which federal agencies are responsible for what, CNN reported.
It also listed the novel coronaviruses as ones to watch that could require a major government response.
The color-coded book addressed a number of issues, including testing, funding, personal protective equipment, emergency declarations, border control measures, diplomacy, the use of the military, public communication, and even mortuary services.