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The White House is backing President Donald Trump’s son-in-law after he praised the administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
During an appearance on Fox News on Wednesday, Jared Kushner, one of the president’s senior advisers, noted that his father-in-law was quick to react when it became apparent that the COVID-19 outbreak was getting serious.
“We’re on the other side of the medical aspect of this, and I think that we’ve achieved all the different milestones that are needed,” Kushner said. “So the federal government rose to the challenge, and this is a great success story, and I think that’s really what needs to be told.”
Democrats and establishment media figures hotly disputed Kushner’s remarks, citing the ongoing numbers of infections and deaths from the virus.
But White House officials noted Thursday that Kushner’s comments were in no way aimed at downplaying the ongoing emergency.
“I think Jared has been taken entirely out of context,” press secretary Kayleigh McEnany told reporters at the White House, The Hill reported.
She noted further that Kushner was talking about how the federal government stepped up and quickly mobilized various industries to both produce and secure vital equipment such as ventilators after officials in hot-zone states like New York warned they would require thousands of machines to handle the expected patient load.
“Not a single American died in this country for lack of a ventilator,” McEnany said. “I would call that response a success.”
In recent days, President Trump has praised the rapid manufacture of ventilators, noting that now there is an excess of machines and that they will be sent to countries that need them.
The president has frequently been blamed for early ‘downplaying’ of the significance of the virus. But one of his top coronavirus task force advisers, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has said the administration — and other governments around the world — had not gotten reliable information from China, where the virus originated.
In response to ‘gotcha’ questioning from CNN correspondent Jim Acosta last month, Fauci — director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases — pushed back on the notion that the Trump administration hesitated early on despite ‘knowing’ the virus was deadly and spreading.
After [Fauci] revealed that current coronavirus models predict a total of 100,000 to 240,000 Americans will die before the crisis abates, Acosta predictably asked whether the model would have predicted fewer deaths had the government taken mitigation efforts earlier.
Fauci responded by pointing out that mitigation efforts couldn’t have been pursued any earlier because nobody had even been aware of the virus’s impacts precisely because the Communist Party of China had succeeded in hiding these impacts from the world.
He added, “If there were covert infections here that we didn’t know about, and we didn’t mitigate them, that they would’ve made a difference.”
Acosta persisted, however.
“But they were early. They started early. We were watching South Korea, excuse me, and China and Italy, and we weren’t taking action when those countries were spiking,” he pressed.
“In a perfect world, it would have been nice to know what was going on in China,” Fauci responded. “We didn’t, but I believe Jim, that we, we acted very, very early in that.”
There is also the fact that Democrats including House Speaker Nancy Pelosi and New York City Mayor Bill de Blasio were downplaying the virus with constituents in February and March, respectively, well after President Trump issued a travel ban on China.
As to equipment mobilized and quickly sent to New York by the Trump administration, most of it was unneeded because the eventual patient load, while heavy in places, did not overwhelm the city’s medical system. Equipment sent included thousands of ventilators, a large field hospital built by the Army Corps of Engineers, and the USNS Comfort hospital ship.
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