California governor told he had to ask and thank Trump to get help with COVID-19 response: report

White House officials told California Gov. Gavin Newsom (D) he would need to personally appeal to President Trump and thank him if he wanted aid in obtaining coronavirus test swabs, according to The New York Times.

The move was part of a deliberate decision by the Trump administration in mid-April when the White House, deciding the pandemic was on the downslope, decided it had given state governments all the aid they would need to handle any further outbreaks, the Times reported.

Deborah Birx, the chief coordinator for the White House’s coronavirus task force, told officials on April 11 that while Boston and Chicago were nearing their peak, other hard-hit cities were on the other side of the crisis. Birx was consistently more optimistic than her colleague and friend Anthony Fauci, telling the task force the virus had hit its peak in mid-April and appearing open to the idea that some death and hospitalization counts could be inflated.

Administration and state officials told the Times that Birx played a greater role than previously known in the White House’s public position that the virus was on the decline and that the models she used for the assessment did not properly capture how Trump’s eagerness to quickly return to normal would undermine social distancing measures.

She frequently characterized the task ahead after she said the virus had peaked was “putting out the embers,” phrasing White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany and the president would later adopt. The task force proceeded assuming the U.S.’ curve would reflect that of Italy, which turned out not to be the case.

Moreover, the Times reported, the administration did not grasp that their assessment of the virus’s spread had been incorrect until early June, and internal fissures remain on how much they should acknowledge in public.

Miami Mayor Francis Suarez (R), himself a survivor of the virus, told the Times the White House was far more focused on reopening businesses than developing contingency plans for cities and states in case of a resurgence.

“It was all predicated on reduction, open, reduction, open more, reduction, open,” he told the Times. “There was never what happens if there is an increase after you reopen?”

White House spokesman Judd Deere defended the White House response to the Times, noting the president’s restrictions on travel from China and signing of economic relief packages.

“President Trump and his bold actions from the very beginning of this pandemic stand in stark contrast to the do-nothing Democrats and radical left who just complain, criticize and condemn anything this president does to preserve this nation,” he told the Times.

The Hill has reached out to the White House for comment.

Tags Anthony Fauci Coronavirus COVID-19 Deborah Birx Donald Trump Gavin Newsom

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