White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows with Donald Trump (File)
In mid-November, the Government’s top Coronavirus experts warned White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows of “a surge upon a surge” after Thanksgiving.
Meadows, who tested positive in early November, said he did not believe them. He accused the experts — Dr. Anthony Fauci, Dr. Deborah Birx, Centers for Disease Control director Robert Redfield, and Food and Drug Administrator Stephen Hahn — of declaring problems without offering solutions.
By early December, the US was setting daily and weekly records for cases. On December 9, it broke the 3,000 mark for daily deaths. Five days later, the overall toll topped 300,000. And the following day, the daily death record reached 3,704.
“Three senior administration officials with knowledge of the discussions” told The Washington Post of Meadows’ dismissal of the specialists. It came a few weeks after Meadows said in a televised interview, “We’re not going to control the pandemic.”
In a lengthy article on the Trump Administration’s deadly mismanagement of the autumn wave of the pandemic, the Post also reports that Meadows tried to cover up dozens of infections among White House staff following “super-spreader” events such as a ceremony for Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett.
He instructed a Trump advisor not to disclose information and threatened to fire White House Medical Unit doctors if they did so. An official said Meadows argued that the Administration “under no obligation to tell the press or the public that Joe Schmo who works in the White House has tested positive”.
Ben Williamson, an aide to Meadows, maintains that the report of Meadows threatening to fire doctors is “false”.
Throughout the summer, Trump’s political appointees quashed the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Department of Health and Human Services. Trump threatened the dismissal of FDA head Hahn. Birx and Fauci were ostracized,, as Trump to Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no experience in epidemiology, virology, or public health.
And Trump spread disinformation, damaging containment measures such as the wearing of masks in public spaces.
Kyle McGowan, who resigned in August as CDC Chief of Staff, summarizes:
There isn’t a single light-switch moment where the government has screwed up and we’re going down the wrong path. It was a series of multiple decisions that showed a lack of desire to listen to the actual scientists and also a lack of leadership in general, and that put us on this progression of where we’re at today.