Citing ‘Callous Disregard for Human Life,’ Groups Urge Trump and Pence to Hand Covid-19 Response Over to Health Experts


July 16, 2020

Editor’s note: The following article was published by on Wednesday, July 15. Cross-posted with permission. 

By Jake Johnson
More than a dozen civil society organizations demanded in an open letter Tuesday that President Donald Trump and Vice President Mike Pence relinquish control over the federal COVID-19 response to public health experts, a move the groups said is necessary to “save lives and restore the economy.”

“Under your failed leadership, the Executive Branch’s response to the pandemic has been inept and incoherent in nearly every respect,” the organizations wrote (pdf) to Trump and Pence. “Your callous disregard for human life during the still-raging coronavirus pandemic is appalling and must cease.”

The letter was signed by 20 advocacy groups, including Public Citizen, American Muslim Health Professionals, People’s Action, Progressive Democrats of America, Social Security Works, and the Coalition on Human needs.

The groups called on Trump and Pence to “immediately step aside from any further role in leading or communicating about the federal response to the pandemic” and hand full control over to medical experts at the U.S. Public Health Service as coronavirus infections surge across the U.S.

“From the beginning, you have contradicted and otherwise undermined critical messaging by your own public health experts,” the groups said. “You promoted the use of unproven, dangerous drugs to treat and prevent COVID-19. You repeatedly disparaged the public health benefits of wearing face masks. Most recently, you recklessly decided to resume large indoor rallies in states with surging coronavirus cases.”

The letter came as the Trump administration continued its efforts to sideline the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and undermine the credibility of Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.

As Common Dreams reported earlier Wednesday, the Trump administration ordered U.S. hospitals to send COVID-19 patient information directly to a Health and Human Services database rather than the CDC—a directive that alarmed public health experts.

“I’m really deeply concerned about what we’ve seen with the attacks on science and public health in recent days, because public health hinges on public trust,” said Dr. Leana Wen, a visiting professor at the Milken Institute School of Public Health at George Washington University.