The active contempt with which the Trump White House treated dire warnings of the coming COVID-19 pandemic continues to be exposed. At every point, it's worse than could be imagined.
The Washington Post now reports that on Feb. 5, back when there were few confirmed U.S. coronavirus cases but it was already clear that the pandemic was spreading worldwide, Health and Human Secretary Alex Azar asked the administration for $2 billion in emergency funding for the exact supplies now in shortage, including protective masks. The administration refused, cutting the request to $500 million in the eventual budget request.
But it's the reason Azar's request wasn't taken seriously that's the most damning.
According to the Post, the Feb. 5 request devolved into "a shouting match" between Azar and an unnamed Official of Management and Budget official who was angry at Azar in the belief Azar had already "improperly lobbied" Congress for that emergency money. How to best protect Americans from a coming pandemic was, at least for that moment, once again secondary to the Team Trump insistence that officials not undercut Trump's own message of denial and skepticism; Azar asking for massive new funding to prepare for the pandemic would have conflicted mightily with Trump's insistence that officials downplay the threat.
That's not the only bit of news from the Post; the rest of their story describes the state of the emergency response efforts since, and the deep disparities between what different states are getting, from the national stockpile. The Post reports that Massachusetts has received only 17% of requested supplies, Maine about 5%, and Colorado only enough for "one full day."
Florida, headed by reliable Trump sycophant Ron DeSantis and represented by new toadying senator Rick Scott and which still refuses to institute statewide social distancing measures, received all supplies requested—and two subsequent requests as well.
The overall impact of the Trump team's incompetence has been catastrophic. A lack of testing allowed the virus to spread unchecked while Trump dismissed expert warnings to prepare. A lack of interest in, evidently, any preparedness efforts, coupled with now-standard Team Trump denials and incompetence, has now contributed to nationwide shortages of vital supplies. Trump's continued suggestion that social distancing measures will soon be lifted undermines expert warnings for Americans to practice that distancing; Team Trump's promotion of would-be miracle cures for the virus has already killed at least one American seeking to follow their incompetent advice.