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Coronavirus Update: The Whitehouse Reverses Course

By Brenda Buchanon, Contributing Writer

The Coronavirus has taken its toll on America leaving more than 5,000 people dead and more than 214,000 CORVID-19 cases in its wake as the global pandemic makes its way across the United States. In order to combat the virus, Trump established the White House Coronavirus Task Force and charged Vice President Mike Pence to lead in implementing the Federal government’s guidelines to slow down the pandemic.

The battle against the virus has resulted in political disputes, governors across the country taking the lead and instituting stay-at-home executive orders, Congress passing and the president signing a more than $2 trillion Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security or CARES Act to bring relief to individuals, families, small businesses, and corporations. 

As part of the Federal guidelines that Trump and the task force implemented, he told Americans to stay home for 15 days, to rally together and the virus would be defeated. Trump said America could be open for business again by Easter.  On the day before day 15, Trump has announced that the Federal guidelines would be extended to April 30 in order to slow the Coronavirus. According to Trump, opening businesses and churches by Easter, was an “aspirational goal,” not a deadline. 

Virginia’s Governor Ralph Northam went a step further than other governors on Monday: Northam issued an executive order that requires Virginia residents to stay-at-home, except for essential purposes, until June 10. Northam expressed concern that residents may consider they have a choice to go out but made clear his action is a “stringent stay-at-home” order. He stated in Newsweek, “I want to be clear: Do not go out unless you need to go out. This is very different than wanting to go out.”

But while the governors plead for additional medical supplies for first responders, the president and the White House were looking into quarantines for the states of New York, New Jersey, and parts of Connecticut. No quarantines have been issued but the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a domestic travel advisory for the triad states. “Due to extensive community transmission of COVID-19 in the area, CDC urges residents of New York, New Jersey, and Connecticut to refrain from non-essential domestic travel for 14 days effective immediately.” 

In the meantime, the USNS Comfort, a Navy hospital ship, located in Norfolk, Virginia, left port for New York, and arrived at Manhattan Cruise Terminal’s Pier 90 on Monday to help reduce the pressure on the hospitals there. The ship’s staff and 1,000 beds will help free-up hospital beds and medical personnel in the hospitals of New York—taking non-CORVID-19 patients only. 

According to news agencies, U.S. Health officials, President Trump and the White House Administration, were caught off guard; they did not take action early in January, denied, and delayed the severity of the danger to the public. The global pandemic has left more than 150,000 cases of CORVID-19 across America and more than 2,700 deaths related to the virus. The number of contracted cases and deaths continue to rise; Dr. Anthony Fauci, Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases (NIAID) and a member of the WH Coronavirus Task Force, saying, ultimately, the virus may result in more than 100,000 to 200,000 deaths in its wake across the United States.

At the inception of the virus, the American public was told and assured by the Coronavirus Task Force that the virus would only affect “seniors, the elderly and those with underlying medical conditions.” The data, as reported by some scientific experts, would not affect young people, healthy people, and if it did, it would be mild—a mild case, something like the flu. 

News reports revealed the Coronavirus began slowly by attacking citizens at a nursing home in the state of Washington, then radically changed its’ intensity in the states of California and New York as it moved throughout the country.

The Coronavirus testing rollout by Vice President Mike Pence was “botched” according to USA Today. Pence became the face of the fight against the crisis with his WH press briefings, leading the charge against the virus. Along with the members of the Coronavirus Task Force, Pence, joined by Dr. Fauci (NIAID) and Dr. Deborah Birx, Coronavirus Task Force coordinator, gave almost daily warnings to the American public to prepare for continued movement of the coronavirus across the country, while remarking that citizens should remain calm.

Reported in USA Today, “America’s chance to contain the coronavirus came and went in the seven weeks since U.S. health officials botched the testing rollout and then misled scientists in state laboratories about this critical early failure.” Many public health experts, scientists, and written communications between laboratories and hospitals, report the Food and Drug Administration and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention did not step up to their responsibility to warn and protect the American public. 

In the second week of the Federal administration’s “guidelines,” the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) was placed in charge of dispatching Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and all essential medical equipment to the states; there are 18 state governors implementing “stay-at-home” orders for their populations at this time. 

Trump, who took over the control of the WH press briefings, has continued to reiterate that the states of California, Washington and New York have received needed medical supplies; that the Federal government has disbursed ventilators, masks, face shields, gowns, and gloves. But, first responders who provide care for the COVID-19 patients on the ground, have made statements contrary to both the president and the task force.

Governor Andrew M. Cuomo, of New York, appears to have the facts and figures on the virus; Cuomo has held press conferences of his own. He calls for unity in order to defeat the virus. He states data shows the apex of the virus in New York may be reached within 21 days; New York will need “140,000 beds and 30 to 40 thousand ventilators to take care of New Yorkers who will become ill. “This is not an anomaly and it will progress to other states” Cuomo said.

Because of the continuous pleas for help from governors for Federal assistance and distress signals from hospital personnel for basic medical supplies, aid for the country is on the way. Congress passed the CARES Act approving more than $2 trillion dollars of aid to individuals, families, small businesses, corporations, Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs), and placing an Inspector General within the Treasury Department (IG).  A congressional oversight panel is to be established to maintain control, along with the IG, over the disbursement of the $500 billion designated for corporations. However, according to newspaper reports, Trump and his administration released a statement afterwards saying they will not comply with key transparency measures stipulated in disbursement of the $500 billion business loans. Congress added this stipulation in the bill in an effort to have complete transparency of who and how these taxpayers’ funds are spent. 

The Federal government has not placed a national lock down on its citizens as was implemented in China, Italy and Spain, yet. Americans have been asked to continue frequently washing hands, social distancing, stay at home, and only travel for essential purposes through April 30.