The White House briefing on 31 March Washington time was invaluable.
It cleared up much controversy, dealt with medical and modelling confusion and took a good hard look at the way their stated death and infection rates have been used in the political media. In so doing it also, in the course of the briefing, brought into focus – and answered -some of the most important political attacks on President Donald Trump and his handling of this Coronavirus emergency.
Ever since Donald Trump announced emphatically on 23 March that he would like to restart the economy sooner rather than have “the cure be worse than the problem itself”, much controversy rose about whether that was the right or wrong decision One of the major weapons against that decision was a series of models showing huge death figures unless the status quo of shut down measures was maintained.
The virus taskforce led by the two pre-eminent medical leaders Drs Fauci and Birx based their advice to President Trump on those models, done by a number of outside institutes. It included a controversial one from Imperial in London but relied on a key one, by Chris Murray and his Institute of Health Metrics and Evaluation from University of Washington, which was said by Dr Birx on a number of occasions to be basing calculations on all current detail and updated constantly. This fact was repeated at this briefing on 31 March.
The Trump administration decision to extend their preventative measures for another 30 days was based on advice which quoted the 100,000-200,000 deaths calculated on the basis of the Washington model. But it had problems, such problems being laid out at todays briefing for all to see.
Washington model not representative of the whole USA at all.
The model being used to calculate an America-wide response and America wide prediction of infection and deaths was calculated after being heavily skewed towards the New York, New Jersey and Connecticut figures which, according to the graph presented, were very high compared to all others. This included a very large state (California) and states which had a very early incidence of the virus and deaths (California and Washington State). Talks showed that New York and its large numbers and deaths were not readily relatable to or to be used as a basis for calculations in the other states. The other states and the USA as a whole, could trend in a different direction to either New York or the graph! It was noted that while the New York and New Jersey figures were on a steep trajectory, those of California and Washington State were so low as to be almost flat lining in comparison.
One truism from Dr Fauci today was that the models were only as good as the assumptions put into them.
New York late starting.
New York was also shown to have started late tackling the virus problem and there is evidence that the Mayor’s staff and Dept of Health leader in early February encouraged much attendance at crowded places, such as Chinese New Year celebrations where there were many thousands of people. And the mayor as recently as March 6, was on TV recommending New Yorkers to go out to dinner as normal!
New York Governor as rival to President Trump in 2020
This has been mentioned many times, not only because Joe Biden is not a strong candidate, but because Governor Cuomo, as is President Trump himself, gaining popularity because they are controlling their individual responses to the virus emergency and are on TV every day.
The Democratic press have been giving Cuomo very favourable publicity and that was seen as boosting him. The corresponding definitely bad publicity to Trump – blaming him for shortages – e.g. ventilators, when thousands were already stored in NY and later, Cuomo having to admit when pressed, that he was holding some back because they were not yet needed.
This negative to Cuomo was added to in this briefing when the comparisons to Washington State and California showed that New York was late to the fight against the virus and that it cannot be blamed on Trump. Whether or not Trump and his administration might have erred in some way, the results for other states with large populations or large and early deaths show that they are nothing like New York.
Anti-Trump narratives severely countered by the health specialists
Was Trump late in starting to close down movement in answer to the virus outbreak?
The health experts Fauci and Birx stated that in the early days when first Chinese figures of 50,000 affected came in it was, as Dr Birx put it, the “medical community” saw it as just a SARs like outbreak, or flu-like and not a pandemic. So a pandemic was not on their horizon at that early stage.
Should Trump have been into mitigation measures earlier than he did so (ie the travel bans on Jan 31)?
Dr Birx said that whether or not the virus was in the USA at that time is unable to be gauged until antibody tests are done much later when all the old blood tests of that time are analysed. In any case, mitigation would have been useless without such information. ( Note: Could they have got away with a close down on that little information I wonder?).
Trump was asked directly should he have acted earlier and he replied that his move for travel bans in spite of opposition everywhere did a huge amount to stop the virus being imported. And he again stated how much opposition he had received from the media and politicians to his move. The move to stop visitors was backed by the health experts at the briefing.Follow