WASHINGTON (AP) – For months, President Donald Trump and his officials have issued a trail of promise to reassure a country caught in the coronavirus pandemic, but they have failed to deliver on crucial ones. Meanwhile, the peak of infections and deaths of COVID-19 has reached or is close to reaching the United States, experts say.
False games and dead ends are unavoidable in any crisis, especially if it’s caused by an unknown virus, but the president who played down the danger for months has been a constant source of exaggerations and promises as bold as they are unfulfilled.
Trump and his team have released figures. Puzzling numbers on the masks on the way. Tests that are carried out. Ships sailing to the rescue, manufactured respirators, planes flying laden with supplies, dollars flowing to paralyzed companies.
There is no doubt that, on the main fronts, the federal government is striving to meet the needs, but to a large extent the provisions will arrive during the downward curve of the pandemic, which will make the country better off if A second wave of contagion occurs, but it will come too late for the outbreak’s lethal curve, currently under development.
For example, regarding respirators, Trump acknowledged that “many will come when we no longer need them as much.”
The US COVID-19 testing system, the key to containing the contagion, has failed at the critical moment, as public health authorities (never Trump) acknowledged in March.
That could change with a recently created quick test, but it is not available in large quantities. New Hampshire received 15 devices, but enough cartridges for only two. “I’m hitting my head on the wall,” said Republican Governor Chris Sununu.
MASKS, GLOVES, COATS
Medical and nursing personnel, flight attendants and other frontline workers have had to plead with them to send them such basic materials as face masks, gloves and general protective clothing.
The magnitude of the pandemic outstripped stocks of those items in even the best-prepared countries, but the persistence of the shortage in the United States is due not only to unpredictability but to vacillations as Americans began to get sick and die of the disease. disease.
It was only in mid-March, when some hospitals were treating thousands of sufferers without sufficient equipment, that the government ordered bulk orders for N95 masks and other items for their warehouses, an investigation by The Associated Press revealed. Washington wavered for two months after global alarms sounded in January about the looming pandemic.
The United States National Strategic Depository was emptied several days ago, before the peak of the pandemic in the country.
“Anyone who needs proof will have proof,” Trump said March 6. “They have the evidence. Additionally, the evidence is beautiful.” Additionally, he added the same day: “Anyone who wants a test can get a test.”
The growing but insufficient capacity to test people is mainly oriented towards the sick or essential workers at risk of contagion.
Three weeks after the notification of cases of a mysterious pneumonia in China, on New Year’s Eve, the Asian country had sequenced the genetic makeup of the virus, German scientists had created a test to detect it and the World Health Organization I had passed the test and started global distribution.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) disdained the WHO COVID-19 test and sponsored their own, which was born unsuccessful. Trump said the WHO test was flawed, but it was not.
Valuable time was lost.
Germany rushed to test a wide swath of the population in January, when it numbered less than 10 cases. It has suffered far fewer deaths, in proportion to its population, than the United States.
“There were many, many opportunities not to get where we are,” Dr. Ashish K. Jha, director of the Harvard Institute of Global Health, told the AP.
Trump said on March 13 that a division of Google’s parent company was creating a website that would allow people to determine online whether they should be tested, and if so, the closest place to get it. “It will be done very quickly,” he said. The website works in four California counties, nothing more.
Sites that promised to speed up coronavirus testing suffered from delays and a lack of items, to the point that many people with symptoms and a prescription were unable to receive care.
Trump invoked the United States’ Defense Production Act, which authorizes him to order private companies to manufacture what the country needs. This raised expectations that the sick and the people caring for them would have a large supply of supplies in general and respirators in particular.
Under the president’s “vigorous and swift” order to General Motors, the new respirators would be available in “Trumpian time, which means as soon as possible,” said Peter Navarro, the top man in the White House supply chain for emergency.
But Trump refrained from using his full powers. Ultimately, the GM directive on making respirators told the company to do what it was already doing.
The shortage of respirators has been the scariest deficiency as more people catch up and die every hour. Amid the reigning chaos, the extent of the shortage is unknown.
WHERE IS THE MONEY?
“With this will come the relief that is urgently needed,” Trump said in signing an emergency rescue law.
Two weeks later, a small fraction of the business loans have been delivered. Problems with a website, delays in federal action, and confusion of lenders and recipients have delayed aid.
Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin had promised that the applications would receive approval on the day, but due to the outstanding loans, Congress already has to find more funds so that companies can pay the payrolls.
Meanwhile, state authorities are criticized when they try to administer unemployment benefits paid by Washington, but managed by the states.
Associated Press journalists Amanda Seitz in Chicago, Matthew Perrone and Michael Biesecker in Washington and Ken Sweet in New York contributed to this report.