Romney: No way to spin US COVID-19 deaths in a positive light

Sen. Mitt RomneyWillard (Mitt) Mitt RomneyGraham tries to help Trump and McConnell bury the hatchet GOP senator will 'probably' vote for debt limit increase Five questions and answers about the debt ceiling fight MORE (R-Utah) condemned the Trump administration's response to the coronavirus pandemic, saying there is “no way to spin” the COVID-19 deaths in the U.S. “in a positive light.”

The Republican senator, who has been a frequent critic of President TrumpDonald TrumpJulian Castro knocks Biden administration over refugee policy Overnight Energy & Environment — League of Conservation Voters — Climate summit chief says US needs to 'show progress' on environment Five takeaways from Arizona's audit results MORE, said in a video interview with the Sutherland Institute on Friday that administration officials had a “tendency” early on to “dismiss COVID-19 as a threat” and not take immediate action to distribute equipment and guidelines.

"Short term, I think it's fair to say we really have not distinguished ourselves in a positive way by how we responded to the crisis when it was upon us," Romney said. "And the proof of the pudding of that is simply that we have 5 percent of the world's population but 25 percent of the world's deaths due to COVID-19.”

ADVERTISEMENT

"And there's no way to spin that in a positive light," Romney added.

Romney called the “health impact” of the pandemic and the federal government's response “very, very disappointing,” adding that “certainly the numbers speak for themselves.”

The U.S. has confirmed more than 5.3 million cases of COVID-19, leading to at least 169,640 deaths, according to data from Johns Hopkins University.

The Utah senator also pointed to longer-term failures in the federal government, including not having an “expansive supply” of personal protective equipment and not preserving the manufacturing of essential items like face masks. 

“Frankly, every Congress and every president deserves their share of the blame,” he said. 

Romney did commend the coronavirus relief effort to families and small businesses, saying, “We moved pretty quickly on that” with the CARES Act. But he acknowledged there were “a lot of mistakes made” with the distribution of the $2.2 trillion in benefits.