Trump has told advisors and allies that he is expecting a vaccine for the new coronavirus coming in the fall, a timeline for which there is no certainty, and wants helpers to offer both facts and a message of optimism to the public , said a senior administration official.
Since the federal government’s Covid-19 task force stopped its daily briefings in May, Pence has taken over most of the administration’s coronavirus messaging responsibilities – through local news interviews, raising awareness of religious groups, and engaging with key constituencies. Many of his trips outside Washington over the past two months have presented informal updates on the reopening of the state, the transmission of disease and the status of a vaccine.
“Reducing the briefings left a vacuum that was filled by the president’s media and political opponents to mislead people, and led the administration to be defensive,” said a second senior administration official.
Core of their riddle is the president himself. Trump loves the spotlight and his briefings in the heart of the crisis have turned into protracted events that sometimes lasted for two hours – with the president deflecting the message and generating negative headlines.
Those sessions have “no end goal and focus only on the political issue of the day,” said another senior administrative official. “A large group of consultants in the White House believes it would be more effective to do a more regionally focused press than national briefings.”
The vacuum of the coronavirus in the White House – after a historical series of briefings by the president himself – is highlighting the holes in Trump’s latest approach as he focuses on other issues while blaming the media for focusing on coronavirus.
Trump’s management of the virus is likely to further damage his position, making him appear out of this world with his own supporters in the red states now struggling with the virus’s resurgence.
“You can’t get a pandemic going,” said David Axelrod, former senior adviser to former President Barack Obama. “I mean, everyone lives with it. The reality is too obvious.
“The best thing to do in a crisis – any crisis – if you are president is to be as helpful as possible and allow professionals who are experts to take the lead,” said Axelrod. “During the H1N1 virus in 2009, I think every meeting except one was held at the CDC. They were the main agency. They had the best information. “
The CDC has held three briefings since mid-March, although the agency director has recently promised to restore more regular briefings. The last meeting of the White House coronavirus task force took place on Friday in the Department of Health and Human Services. Pence also visited the headquarters of the United States Public Health Service Commission Corps in Rockville, Md. On Tuesday to offer comments and answer reporters’ questions.
“At the request of President Trump, Vice President Pence is delighted to provide briefings from the White House Coronavirus Task Force to the American people,” said Pence spokesman Devin O’Malley.
White House officials, such as Meadows, want Dr. Deborah Birx, a global infectious disease expert in the White House task force, to become the face of the coronavirus response and make an appearance in local media in affected areas. as hard as Texas, Arizona and Florida. Birx joined Pence on his trip to Texas last Sunday, where they met with Governor Greg Abbott and pleaded with the public to wear protective masks. He is expected to travel to Arizona with Pence on Wednesday as that state struggles with an overwhelming increase in coronavirus cases.
The White House is also working on a public service announcement on Covid-19 that features surgeon general Jerome Adams, Birx and Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn.
The government’s best infectious disease expert, Dr. Anthony Fauci, is seen by some White House aides as an expert who promotes too much propensity to fear, even though he is an icon in public health circles and generally seen as trusted by the public. in the investigation.
Before a Senate panel on Tuesday, Fauci warned the United States that it could see an explosion of daily cases if the coronavirus continues to spread. The increase in cases in the south and west “puts the whole country at risk,” he added.
“We now have over 40,000 new cases per day,” said Fauci. “I wouldn’t be surprised if we hit 100,000 a day if that doesn’t change. And so, I am very worried. “
Trump’s management of coronavirus has become a political line of attack for the alleged Democratic presidential candidate, former vice president Joe Biden. Biden dedicated most of a speech in Wilmington, Pennsylvania on Tuesday to criticize the Trump administration’s response to the virus and outline the steps it would take if it were elected in November.
“Month after month, while other leaders took the necessary steps to keep the virus in check, Donald Trump let us down,” Biden said. He argued that the White House should offer weekly updates on the distribution and production of vaccines and that Trump should send a clear signal on the use of the masks.
Public health experts say the administration’s messaging on the virus, dating back to January, was contradictory and confusing: by Trump assuring Americans that the virus would pass by April to the administration’s advice on the use of masks to promote Trump hydroxychloroquine, a drug proven to treat Covid-19. They say it all contributed to the underperformance of the United States compared to Europe and other advanced economies.
“The briefings we saw earlier were essentially propaganda exercises,” said Gregg Gonsalves, assistant professor of epidemiology at the Yale School of Medicine. “They provided the bare minimum to the public on how to protect themselves, and they were often a vehicle for disinformation and disinformation.”
“If we have briefings, they must be science based. They must be factual, “added Gonsalves.” We are not asking for much from this administration. “