Metrics-Focused Trump Laments Fact That Testing More People Means A Higher Case Count For U.S.
"We have more cases than anybody in the world,” President Donald Trump said. “But why? Because we do more testing. When you test, you have a case. When you test, you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases.” Meanwhile, whereas scientists had been prominent players in the early days of the administration's response efforts, they're now being sidelined more and more.
Trump: Coronavirus Testing May Be ‘Overrated’ And Reason For High U.S. Case Count
President Donald Trump on Thursday said testing for coronavirus might be “overrated,” revisiting his concern early in the outbreak that testing for the disease would raise the nation’s case count. ... “America has now conducted its 10 millionth test. That’s as of yesterday afternoon. Ten million tests we gave. Ten million,” Trump said from a stage at the warehouse event, which had the trappings of a campaign-style rally. “And CVS has just committed to establish up to 1,000 new coronavirus testing sites by the end of this month, and the 10 millionth will go up very, very rapidly.” (Ward, 5/14)
Trump Says Testing May Be 'Frankly Overrated'
The U.S. has more than 1.4 million confirmed coronavirus cases, by far the most of any country in the world. But Trump suggested the soaring infection numbers were merely a reflection of America’s testing capacity. "We have more cases than anybody in the world, but why? Because we do more testing,” Trump said. “When you test, you have a case. When you test you find something is wrong with people. If we didn’t do any testing, we would have very few cases. They don’t want to write that. It’s common sense. We test much more."(Samuels and Hellmann, 5/14)
A Metrics-Obsessed White House Struggles To Define Success On Coronavirus
By far the most sensitive subject is the awful reality of the growing death count. “I’m not going to play that game,” said one White House official when asked if there is a number of dead Americans beyond what the public would tolerate. “I think all these body count things are somewhat gross and the definitions are kind of fu--ed up and they’re not uniform across states and across countries.” But even beyond the death count, there’s a widespread reluctance to define what success means. “I’m not going to get into this game four or five months from now about what any particular metric needs to look like,” the official said. (Lizza and Lippman, 5/14)
The Note: Public Not Seeing Pandemic Realities Trump Is Describing
"We have prevailed," President Donald Trump declared this week, in a comment he said was about COVID-19 testing. "I think you should absolutely open the schools," he said two days later, contradicting Dr. Anthony Fauci's warning that it may not be realistic to expect schools to be open this fall. Both statements contradict high-profile individuals inside Trump's administration, and fly in the face of basic science to at least some extent. Perhaps just as importantly, in a political context, they contradict how the public is experiencing this crisis. (Klein and Parks, 5/15)
The Memo: Gulf Grows Between Trump And Scientists
The distance between President Trump and the nation’s top scientists is growing wider by the day. On Thursday, Rick Bright, the whistleblower who says he was unjustly ousted from his position leading a biodefense unit within the Department of Health and Human Services, told Congress that “lives were lost” because of the administration’s failures. Bright also lamented what he sees as the lack of a comprehensive strategy to meet the once-in-a-lifetime threat. (Stanage, 5/14)
Top Health Officials Vanish From National TV Interviews As White House Refocuses Messaging
The nation's top physicians have stopped appearing on national television for interviews as the White House exerts increased control over communications during the coronavirus pandemic and refocuses its message toward reopening the economy. The last national television appearance from a doctor on the coronavirus task force was a full week ago on May 7 when Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House coronavirus response coordinator, appeared on CNN for a town hall. (Darcy, 5/14)
US Coronavirus Strategy Is Shifting To Reducing Risks, Doctor Says
The US appears to be changing its strategy from trying to completely eliminate coronavirus to reducing infection risks as the nation reopens, a health expert says. With nearly all states easing social distancing, the nation has now shifted to harm reduction -- which focuses on ways to reduce the risk if it cannot be removed entirely, said Dr. Leana Wen, an ER physician and the former health commissioner for Baltimore. (Karimi, 5/15)
And in other news on the Trump administration's response —
White House: No Plans For A President Pelosi If Trump, Pence Are Incapacitated By Coronavirus
White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany revealed Thursday there is no procedure in place to facilitate House Speaker Nancy Pelosi’s ascension to the presidency should President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence become incapacitated by the coronavirus. The disease penetrated the president’s inner circle last week after one of Trump’s personal valets and Katie Miller, Pence’s press secretary and the wife of White House adviser Stephen Miller, both tested positive for Covid-19. (Forgey, 5/14)
US Increases Military Pressure On China As Tensions Rise Over Pandemic
The US is upping military pressure on China amid increased tensions over the South China Sea and accusing Beijing of seeking to leverage the coronavirus pandemic to extend its sphere of influence in the region. Over the last few weeks US Navy ships and Air Force B-1 bombers have undertaken missions aimed at sending a very public message that the US military intends to maintain a presence in the region and reassure allies. It's also a top priority for the Pentagon to get the virus-stricken aircraft carrier USS Theodore Roosevelt back out to sea in the region by as soon as the end of the month. (Starr and Browne, 5/15)
Pelosi: Trump's Focus On China Is An 'Interesting Diversion'
Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) said Thursday that President Trump's repeated attacks on China are designed merely to divert the public's attention from potential administration mistakes in the early stages of the coronavirus response. "What the president is saying about China is interesting — it's an interesting diversion," Pelosi told a small group of reporters in the Capitol. (Lillis, 5/14)