USA Today - 27.03.2020

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thing experts believed was needed for
the variety of threats facing the Amer-
ican public. Each year, they took educat-
ed guesses about what to buy, and re-
cently, that hasn’t included large
amounts of masks or ventilators. That’s
why there is a shortage of both.

Dr. Tom Frieden, one of the
nation’s leading experts on public
health and infectious disease, told
us he questions why the CDC isn’t
“centrally involved in making
decisions” during this crisis.

Frieden, the former director of the
Centers for Disease Control and Preven-
tion and former New York City health
commissioner, was on a video confer-
ence with the USA TODAY editorial
board Tuesday.
“This is the first outbreak in the last
75 years that CDC hasn’t been centrally
involved in making decisions at the ta-
ble,” he said. “Not that it’s the only group
that makes decisions, but it’s got unique
expertise in communicating those deci-
sions. And frankly, I feel less safe be-
cause of that.
“CDC has the National Center for Im-
munization and Respiratory Diseases
(NCIRD). There are 700 professionals
working there. They’ve worked, on aver-

age, for 20 years on respiratory viral in-
fections,” he said. “They’re really good.
Look, I’m an infectious disease special-
ist who’s worked on lung infections, and
I wouldn’t trust myself to make these
decisions. I would trust them to bring
the best decisions out. ... The public
health experts are the folks at CDC, and
not having them there is just not safe.”

And, of course, we’re here to help.
To connect you. To inform and
empower you. To elevate truth
and snuff out misinformation.

USA TODAY was just cited as one of
the “brands doing good during difficult
times” for our free daily coronavirus
newsletter. All our coverage is free at We’re hap-
py with the shout out, as this is a pri-
mary goal for us. To help.
In addition to the newsletter, you can
join our coronavirus Facebook group for
news updates and coping strategies.
We’re investigating news that direct-
ly impacts your life: how layoffs are dis-
proportionally impacting black and La-
tino workers, the concerns of people
with disabilities, and just exactly what
is in the stimulus bill.
We’re doing a 30-minute live Face-
book show every Tuesday at 12:30 p.m.

EDT to talk about issues on your minds
and connect you with experts.
And in the past nine days, our new
fact check team has investigated 17
claims circulating on social media. Ev-
erything from will Trump invoke the
Stafford Act to order a national, manda-
tory two-week quarantine (false) to is it
true that pets will not catch and spread
the coronavirus to their owners. Yes,
that’s true.
“The amount of misinformation be-
ing published on coronavirus is truly
staggering,” said Katie Wadington, one
of our fact check editors.
That’s why our efforts, and those of
all journalists out there working to
spread the truth, are more important
than ever. There have been more than 7
million views of our coronavirus fact
checks in the past nine days.
“I am doing this,” says fact check edi-
tor Martina Stewart, “because, like all
journalists, I’m committed to facts and
providing useful information to people
that helps inform their lives and helps
them make critical decisions as citi-
Thank you for reading, and thank
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Questioning authority critical in crisis

Essential and true info

helps people decide

Nicole Carroll

Walking paths on the National Mall in Washington, D.C., are nearly deserted on Monday. JACK GRUBER/USA TODAY

Questioning authority in times of
crisis is not unpatriotic. It’s
critical. We want our leaders to be
successful, that means holding
them accountable. This makes our
country stronger.

This week, we’ve done just that.
Last Friday, President Donald Trump
defended the nation’s response to the
pandemic: “This administration inheri-
ted an obsolete, broken, old system that
wasn’t meant for this. We discarded that
system. ... And we’re very proud of what
we’ve done.”
Kenneth Bernard, a former assistant
surgeon general who wrote the 2004
biodefense plan under President George
W. Bush, replied: “If it was broken, why
didn’t you fix it two years ago?”
Our story Monday found that Con-
gress passed a law in 2016 mandating a
federal plan to protect against conta-
gious diseases. “In 2018, President Don-
ald Trump adopted a National Biode-
fense Strategy,” we reported. “But the
document approved by Trump was a
blueprint, not a game plan. The ideas
weren’t implemented before COVID-
arrived in the USA. And the federal gov-
ernment’s response shows it.”
We also dug in to Trump’s claim that
two malaria drugs are a potential anti-
dote for COVID-19. Experts we spoke to
in Tuesday’s story noted the drugs are
unproven against coronavirus and carry
their own risks of side effects.
World leaders aren’t working a coor-
dinated plan either, Deirdre Shesgreen
reported Thursday.
“During other international crises –
such as the Ebola outbreak in 2014 and
the global economic meltdown in 2008

  • world leaders joined forces to confront
    the threat of disease and economic col-
    lapse,” she wrote.
    The reaction to COVID-19 has been
    very “state-centric,” said Yanzhong
    Huang, a senior fellow for global health
    at the Council on Foreign Relations.
    As a result, our story shows, “individ-
    ual governments are competing to se-
    cure scarce medical supplies from a
    strained global supply chain, closing
    borders with little to no notice to their
    neighbors, and lobbing verbal broad-
    sides that threaten to deepen the dis-
    And in an important story publishing
    today, our reporters tracked down offi-
    cials previously in charge of stockpiling
    emergency medical supplies for the U.S.
    Those officials told us the stockpile has
    never had enough funds to buy every-

WASHINGTON – Americans are di-
vided on President Donald Trump’s re-
sponse to the coronavirus outbreak,
which has killed more than 1,000 in the
U.S. and caused economic devastation,
according to recent polls.
A Reuters/Ipsos online survey of
more than 4,000 Americans found 49%
approve of Trump’s handling of the CO-
VID-19 crisis, while 44% disapproved.
Those results largely fell along party
lines. Republicans approved of the
president’s response 83%-13%, while
Democrats disapproved 71%-24%. In-
dependents were split, 43%-43%.
An Economist/YouGov poll also
found that 49% approve of Trump’s
management of the outbreak with 44%
saying they disapprove. And, as with
the Reuters poll, the opinions largely fell
along party lines.
Eighty-nine percent of registered Re-
publicans said they approved of
Trump’s response, while only 7% said
they disapproved. Among Democrats,
74% said they disapproved, while 21%
approved. Independents were divided:
42% approved and 45% disapproved.
Trump’s opponents have sharply

criticized his handling of the outbreak.
They argue that the administration
should have pushed for tests sooner and
that federal agencies should have been
preparing for an outbreak. Trump, on
the other hand, has given himself high
marks for his response, particularly his
decision to shut down travel from the
area of China where the virus first ap-
peared. He said that move saved thou-
sands of lives.
The Reuters and Economist polls
contrasted with other recent surveys
that appeared to show voters were rally-
ing behind the president amid the crisis.
A Gallup poll released Tuesday found
60% of Americans thought Trump was
doing a good job of dealing with the pan-
demic, while 38% disapproved.
And an ABC News/Ipsos poll released
Friday found 55% approved of Trump’s
response, a 12-percentage-point im-
provement over the week before.
The Gallup results fell along party
lines, but the survey found that Trump’s
job approval rating jumped 8 percentage
points among independents and 6 points
among Democrats from its previous poll.
And Trump’s overall job approval rat-
ing has climbed in other polls as well.
According to RealClearPolitics, his aver-
age approval rating is at 47%, the high-
est level of his presidency. Similarly, the
polling site FiveThirtyEight has him at
approval levels close to those he enjoyed
during his first months in office.

“There is a rally effect happening,
but the rally is extraordinarily weak
compared to other modern presi-
dents,” Larry Sabato, the director of
the University of Virginia’s Center for
Politics, told USA TODAY. After the
Sept. 11, 2001, terror attacks, President
George W. Bush’s approval rating
spiked 35 percentage points, accord-
ing to Gallup.
“Incredibly, Trump still hasn’t
crossed the 50% mark in job approval –
a much more important measure than
public views about Trump’s handling of
the pandemic,” Sabato said. “Why is
that? Americans either love Trump or
hate Trump, and the vast majority will
never change their evaluation.”
And Trump still slightly trails the
likely Democratic nominee, former Vice
President Joe Biden, in a general elec-
tion matchup, according to the polls.
The Reuters survey found Biden lead-
ing Trump 42%-36% in a hypothetical
matchup (8% were undecided). The
Economist poll found Biden ahead
46%-42% in a hypothetical matchup.
The Reuters/Ipsos poll was done
March 18-24 with a margin of error of
plus or minus 1.7 percentage points.
The Economist/YouGov poll was done
March 22-24 with a margin of error of
3.2 percentage points. The Gallup poll
was taken March 13-22 with a margin
of error of plus or minus 4 percentage

Mixed views on virus response

Polls reveal a divide

along party lines

William Cummings

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