President Donald Trump has canceled his planned visit to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) headquarters in Atlanta, according to an administration official who declined to be identified.
“The president is no longer traveling to Atlanta today,” the official told reporters. “The CDC has been proactive and prepared since the very beginning and the president does not want to interfere with the CDC’s mission to protect the health and welfare of their people and the agency.”
The decision comes after Vice President Mike Pence, who is leading the national coronavirus response, said the president planned to sign an $8.3 billion emergency aid package at the CDC. The Senate passed the bill yesterday, a day after it was approved in the House. The bill, which includes more than $3 billion in vaccine research and $2.2 billion in prevention and preparedness efforts, exceeds the $2.5 billion the White House initially proposed.
The coronavirus, which has claimed 14 lives in the United States, has continued to spread, and experts warn that the Trump administration’s bungled response has cost the nation significant time to control the outbreak.
“The government has made some blunders in our pandemic preparedness by not quickly deploying functional coronavirus testing kits nor having sufficient testing capacity early on, when containment (via contact tracing and quarantines) would have been much more feasible,” Dr. Dana Grayson, a former Democratic candidate for Congress, told Newsweek.
Trump had been scheduled to visit the CDC after visiting Nashville to assess damage from recent tornadoes. Instead, he will travel to his Mar-a-Lago resort in Palm Beach, Florida, to speak at a fundraiser. Critics were quick to slam the decision, saying the president, whose history of germaphobia is well documented, is likely afraid of getting sick himself.
So is Trump just too lazy to visit the CDC and wants to get to his private club or is he trying to distance himself from the response and let Pence own it?
— Matthew Miller (@matthewamiller) March 6, 2020
They’ll spend all day speculating about Trump’s cancelled visit to the CDC. He’s scared. End of story.
— Snarker (@Sharkus72) March 6, 2020
Today Trump’s going to Nashville to visit tornado wreckage for only three hours. It’s just another PR stunt and photo op. He’s then flying straight to Mar-a-Lago so he can spend the weekend golfing. Because Trump doesn’t actually care about Americans, or the coronavirus outbreak.
— Scott Dworkin (@funder) March 6, 2020
Translation: "There was a concern that a trip to the CDC would expose Trump to actual facts that are politically inconvenient for him." https://t.co/v8dpGPnbcl
— Macduff McDuck, Thane of the Fife (@DoucheyMcDuck) March 6, 2020
Yesterday, the president accused his critics of skewing his words, denying he told Fox News’ Sean Hannity that people can still go to work even if they are sick with the virus.
I NEVER said people that are feeling sick should go to work. This is just more Fake News and disinformation put out by the Democrats, in particular MSDNC. Comcast covers the CoronaVirus situation horribly, only looking to do harm to the incredible & successful effort being made!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 5, 2020
“If we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better just by sitting around and even going to work — some of them go to work, but they get better,” Trump told Hannity, a direct contradiction to the CDC’s recommendation that people who are “mildly ill” with the coronavirus should still self-isolate.
Alan is a writer, editor, and news junkie based in New York.