Tapper Gets SCHOOLED By Surgeon General on White House Virus Response

Tapper Gets SCHOOLED By Surgeon General on White House Virus Response Featured

Written by Nicholas Fondacaro | Source: NewsBusters | March 08, 2020 03:45 PM
Despite multiple attempts by CNN host Jake Tapper to seemingly embarrass the Trump administration with their response to the coronavirus (COVID-19) during Sunday’s State of the Union, U.S.

Surgeon General Jerome Adams schooled him on the facts. Tapper even questioned if President Trump was even listening to the advice of medical professionals; only to be told the multiple doctors in the room were not being suppressed.

At one point, Tapper tried to stoke public fear by suggesting Trump was willing to sacrifice Americans on a cruise ship as so not to increase the number of people infected by COVID-19. “Is the President's desire to artificially keep the numbers low by keeping Americans who are off the coast out of the United States; is that desire impacting health decisions to help save these Americans who have coronavirus or who could possibly have it,” he demanded to know.

After pointing out that Tapper wanted him to make things political, Adams talked about how the safely of the people on-board cruise ships with the virus were a priority (click “expand”):

When the President comes in, he makes it clear that he wants the best advice from his health experts. As far as the cruise ships are concerned, our priorities are, number one, making sure people who are on those cruise ships and who need medical attention can get it. And we've flown people off the ships, we've flown CDC teams into the ships to help.

Number two, we want to get people off the ships as quickly and safely as we can. And number three, we want to protect our communities. And that's a delicate balance that requires the cooperation of many different partners, the Department of Defense, Coast Guard, and others. But again, we want to make sure we're taking care of those people on the ship and in a way that protects them, but also protects communities.

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Tapper wouldn’t let his narrative go and amped up his claims by insisting the President was making purely “public relations decision[s]” and not medical ones.

“Well, what I can say to you is, based on my experience on the task force for about a week and a half and being in that Situation Room every day that the medical input is taken,” Adams counters. “You have multiple doctors in the room and our voices are in no way, shape, or form suppressed. As a matter of fact, the Vice President usually starts and ends by saying, ‘Doctors, is there anything I need to hear that I'm not hearing.’”

The conversation got a little combative as Tapper demanded to know how many Americans had been tested for COVID-19. He repeatedly interrupted the Surgeon General while he attempted to explain the number was always changing and he didn’t want to give false information (click “expand”):

TAPPER: Can you tell us how many people have been tested in the United States?

ADAMS: The numbers are tough because they're changing minute by minute. But here’s what people should know--

TAPPER (interrupting Adams again): Just rough estimate?

(…)

TAPPER: You can't give me just a yes or no? You can’t give me even a rough number of how many Americans have been tested, you don't know?

ADAMS: I would refer you to the CDC for that because, again, the numbers change so rapidly I don’t want to give you a number --

TAPPER (interrupting Adams again): They took it off the website, how many people have been tested, they removed it from the website.

ADAMS: Well, actually, I would direct you to the transcript from the conversation that FDA commissioner Steve Hahn had yesterday where he have very specific numbers.

Early on in the interview, Tapper tried to pit Adams against the White House by claiming the latter was lying about the outbreak being contained. “Have you expressed your desire for people in the White House to share the facts and be honest,” he condescendingly asked.

“From a public health point of view, and I am a public health expert, the first thing you want to try to do is contain the virus. And some parts of the country have contained it, meaning their preventing spread in their communities in the first place,” Adams explained.

Despite Adams being far more qualified than him to speak about infectious diseases, Tapper tried to trip him up by commenting on community spread of COVID-19 in some areas. “And so, we actually feel pretty good that some parts of the country have contained it, just like when you look at the flu,” Adams said, citing the lack of widespread deaths. “And when we look at the flu tracker, some parts of the country are having much more severe flu seasons. Some are having very mild flu seasons. The same thing for coronavirus.”

The transcript is below, click "expand" to read:

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CNN’s State of the Union March 8, 2020 9:21:06 a.m. Eastern

(…)

JAKE TAPPER: The U.S. Surgeon general, Dr. Jerome Adams, joins me now to talk about this and much more. Dr. Adams, thanks so much for joining us. Six weeks into the crisis, a first responder tells me that he sees this with workers at one of the main clusters, understaffed, undertrained, undersupplied, how does that happen?

U.S. SURGEON GENERAL JEROME ADAMS: Well, we'll quickly get into that but I want to first help the American people to understand. The novel coronavirus, which we’re talking about, is a respiratory virus that comes from a family of viruses that cause the common cold, MERS, and SARS. We've successfully handled those in the past. And in most cases 80 percent-plus it causes a mild disease. And one of the things we want to focus on is helping people know who’s at risk and what they can do to protect themselves.

Now, you mentioned that care facility. The Vice President and a team of folks including Dr. Redfield were out there just a few days ago. It's important for the American people to know that this response – and in all states, is led by the states with consultation from federal partners. And we're constantly in touch with them making sure they're getting what they need. We have CDC teams now at that facility providing care. The health and safety of the American people is of our utmost importance, our number one priority.

(…)

9:24:00 a.m. Eastern

TAPPER: So that's not true, it's not contained, it's not relatively contained. Have you expressed your desire for people in the White House to share the facts and be honest?

ADAMS: Well, this is a novel virus. It's a new situation. And the messaging, quite frankly, is hard. But here's what I want the American people to know. From a public health point of view, and I am a public health expert, the first thing you want to try to do is contain the virus. And some parts of the country have contained it, meaning their preventing spread in their communities in the first place. But --

TAPPER (interrupting Adams): We don't really know that, right? Because there aren’t enough testing kits. So, we – like for instance, we know of one case in D.C. That doesn’t mean there’s one person with it in D.C. We just don't know there aren’t enough testing kits.

ADAMS: Well, what we do know is that if we had massive numbers of cases, we would be seeing more deaths. And so, we actually feel pretty good that some parts of the country have contained it, just like when you look at the flu. And when we look at the flu tracker, some parts of the country are having much more severe flu seasons. Some are having very mild flu seasons. The same thing for coronavirus. You want to keep it out of your community. Once you know it's in your community you want to take the steps to prevent spread within the community and keep those most at risk safe.

And a very important point here, we now know more about who is at risk. Average age of death for people from coronavirus is 80. Average age of people who need medical attention is age 60. We want people who are older, people who have medical conditions, to take steps to protect themselves including avoiding crowded spaces, including thinking very carefully about whether now is the time to get on that cruise ship, whether now is the time to take that long haul flight. For most people, you'll be fine. But if you have medical conditions, or you're older, now is the time to rethink that.

(…)

9:27:27 a.m. Eastern

TAPPER: Is the President's desire to artificially keep the numbers low by keeping Americans who are off the coast out of the United States; is that desire impacting health decisions to help save these Americans who have coronavirus or who could possibly have it?

ADAMS: Well, I don't want to play politics here. But I do want to say, I've been in the Situation Room every day. When the President comes in, he makes it clear that he wants the best advice from his health experts. As far as the cruise ships are concerned, our priorities are, number one, making sure people who are on those cruise ships and who need medical attention can get it. And we've flown people off the ships, we've flown CDC teams into the ships to help.

TAPPER: I understand you don't want to get into politics but can you assure the American people that decisions are not being made because the President wants to keep the numbers low as opposed to helping Americans? I mean, that’s what he said directly. He said he doesn't want to bring people in because the number will double. That's not a medical decision, that's a public relations decision.

ADAMS: Well, what I can say to you is, based on my experience on the task force for about a week and a half and being in that Situation Room every day that the medical input is taken. Tony Fauci, Ambassador Birx, Bob Kadlec, myself, Ben Carson. You have multiple doctors in the room and our voices are in no way, shape, or form suppressed. As a matter of fact, the Vice President usually starts and ends by saying, “Doctors, is there anything I need to hear that I'm not hearing.”

TAPPER: Can you tell us how many people have been tested in the United States?

ADAMS: The numbers are tough because they're changing minute by minute. But here’s what people should know--

TAPPER (interrupting Adams again): Just rough estimate?

ADAMS: Here's what people should know about the testing. They should know we have 75,000 tests available right now for folks. By early next week, tomorrow, we should have over 2 million tests available. By the end of the week, through partnerships with private industry, over 4 million tests available.

But the most important number to the American people is one. They want to know, if I go in, can I get a test. And the one thing I've heard—I’ve been to Georgia, I’ve been to Florida, I’ve been to Connecticut in the past week – is that no public health doctor who has asked for a test has not been able to get a test.

So, people should talk to their health care providers. We’ve been telling folks if you and your health care provider thinks you need a test, then you will get a test. And we’re rapidly ramping up capacity.

TAPPER: You can't give me just a yes or no? You can’t give me even a rough number of how many Americans have been tested, you don't know?

ADAMS: I would refer you to the CDC for that because, again, the numbers change so rapidly I don’t want to give you a number --

TAPPER (interrupting Adams again): They took it off the website, how many people have been tested, they removed it from the website.

ADAMS: Well, actually, I would direct you to the transcript from the conversation that FDA commissioner Steve Hahn had yesterday where he have very specific numbers.

An important thing for the American people to know, again, is talk to your health care provider, if your health care provider thinks you need a test, there's been no indication that I've gotten from around the country that folks can’t get tests

TAPPER: The FDA commissioner gave a number that was in the 5,000s but it was how many tests had been given, not how many people have been tested. We’re still waiting for a number on that.

ADAMS: And expect millions more with the capability to be tested by the end of this week.

TAPPER: Millions more with the capability at the end of this week. All right. Doctor, thank you so much.

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