Kushner’s COVID Task Force Ignored National Effort Because Blue States Had Virus
Early into the pandemic, the coronavirus task force headed by White House adviser and presidential son-in-law Jared Kushner developed a rigorous nationwide coronavirus testing strategy, and chose to scrap it for political reasons, according to Vanity Fair.
- The plan would have used a system of national oversight and collaboration to provide supplies and distribute tests as well as develop a surveillance system for the virus. This is a far cry from the haphazard state-by-state handling of the pandemic that has cemented the U.S. as the location of the worst outbreak in the world.
- A source who worked with Kushner on the plan said that those working on the plan “were given the strong impression that it would soon be shared with President [Donald] Trump and announced by the White House. The plan, though imperfect, was a starting point.”
- Hopeful estimates from Dr. Deborah Birx in April contributed to a false sense of security in the White House that the pandemic would soon be over. President Trump was worried that an increase in testing would generate higher case counts, fearing that it would create bad publicity for his administration.
- However, Dr. Birx’s estimates were dependent on people continuing to stay at home and socially distance, which did not end up occurring. This has contributed to an explosion of cases over the summer.
- The administration also thought that since, early in the pandemic, blue states were being hit the hardest, they could relegate responsibility to those states and blame the governors. One public health expert in regular contact with the White House's official coronavirus task force said:
“The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy.”
- Vanity Fair noted: "That logic may have swayed Kushner. 'It was very clear that Jared was ultimately the decision maker as to what [plan] was going to come out,' the expert said."