Ahead of Pence’s Photo Op, Let’s Review Trump’s Record on PPE, Testing

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Orlando, FL — Vice President Mike Pence is coming to Orlando this week to prop up the Trump administration’s failed coronavirus response. In response, the Florida Democrats are highlighting how Donald Trump’s erratic and slow response to the pandemic –especially his failure to acquire necessary supplies– has worsened this crisis in the United States and in Florida. 

“Mike Pence is coming to Florida on Wednesday in an attempt to spin the Trump administration’s utter failure to prepare us for the coronavirus pandemic as a huge success, but sadly, that’s just not true,” said Florida Deocratic Party Chair Terrie Rizzo, “The truth is that the economic and human toll caused by this pandemic did not have to be this devastating. Trump was out to lunch when he should have been doing everything in his power to contain the virus — and Floridians, especially our seniors, have paid the price of his inaction.” 

As Trump Admin. Floundered, Florida’s Nursing Homes Struggled to Get Adequate Testing and PPE 

Miami Herald: Staff told the Herald/Times that protective gear is either rationed or hoarded by management, leaving them exposed and working in fear. Administrators told us they have received some supplies from the state emergency stockpiles, but it is far short of meeting the need and supply shortfalls are constant.
Sun Sentinel: To date [May 13th], according to the Florida Department of Health, the state has tested only 6% of that group.
Still, the state has not issued an order saying every resident and worker must be tested, which currently is about 177,000 residents and nearly 300,000 staff members. The only mandate, issued Sunday, is that if state workers show up at a facility, testing of staff is not voluntary at that facility.
Tampa Bay Times: In Florida, 83 percent of those who’ve died of the virus were over 65 years old. One in four people over 85 with a confirmed infection has died.

Outbreaks have devastated nursing homes in nearly every corner of the state, from the Panhandle down to the Atlantic coast. Some of the deadliest have occurred in the greater Tampa Bay region.

Lack of PPE Direct Result of Trump’s Early and Continued Mismanagement of Supplies: 
Early warnings ignored: 

  • Trump ignored a 69 page National Security Council playbook that detailed how the Administration should have begun procuring PPE least four months prior
  • Trump cut HHS Secretary Alex Azar’s Fevruary 5th budget request to buy respirator masks and other supplies for the national stockpile by 75%.

Delayed action cost US supplies: 

  • Trump waited until mid-March to start bulk ordering critical medical supplies, according to Federal contract records.
  • ​​​​​​​Trump allowed State Department planes to transport 18 tons of PPE from the US to China. Other countries prevented supplies from leaving their borders.
  • In January, Trump turned down an offer from a US manufacturer to produce approximately 7 million N95 masks per month.
  • The New York Times: How Kushner’s Volunteer Force Led A Fumbling Hunt For Medical Supplies

Trump’s Testing Failure Allowed the Coronavirus to Spread 

Trump Slow to Test

  • Trump’s FDA did not relax its testing rules until February 29, 2020.
  • Despite weeks of reported shortages of swabs, Trump refused to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase production of testing swabs until April 19th.
  • An HHS Office of Inspector General report found many hospitals lacked the supplies necessary to test anyone who was not high risk or whose case was not serious enough to be admitted.
  • South Korea was able to test 287,000 people eight weeks after its first confirmed coronavirus case. The United States had only reported testing 56,000 people in the same time frame.

Consequences of inadequate testing

  • Director of Harvard Global Health Institute, Dr. Ashish Jha said: “Every expert on the left, right, and center agrees that we had to shut our economy down because the outbreak got too big because we didn’t have a testing infrastructure that allowed us to put our arms around the outbreak. And so testing was the fundamental failure that forced our country to shut down.”

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Florida Democrats believe in effective and efficient government that prioritizes quality education, affordable health care, and an economy in which anyone who works hard can succeed.

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