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Politics Alex Azar’s resignation letter paints a misleading picture of Trump’s coronavirus response

19:45  16 january  2021
19:45  16 january  2021 Source:   vox.com

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See Azar ' s response . (CNN) President Trump ' s "actions and rhetoric" have tarnished the administration's legacy, Health and Human Services Azar submitted the standard resignation letter for a Cabinet secretary to offer an outgoing president, dated January 12 and obtained by CNN Friday.

Azar ' s resignation came after U. S . Transportation Secretary Elaine Chao, another Cabinet member, and several other Trump administration officials resigned . Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar is resigning on Jan 20, NBC News confirmed on Friday. In his resignation letter dated Jan.

Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar this week warned President Donald Trump that, despite what he described as achievements by HHS under his watch, Trump’s “actions and rhetoric following the election ... threaten to tarnish these and other historic legacies of this administration.”

a close up of a man wearing glasses: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks at George Washington University Hospital on December 14, 2020 in Washington, DC. © Jacquelyn Martin-Pool/Getty Images Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar speaks at George Washington University Hospital on December 14, 2020 in Washington, DC.

“The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy,” Azar said in a letter released this week ahead of his departure from the government on January 20. “I implore you to continue to condemn unequivocally any form of violence ... and continue to support unreservedly the peaceful and orderly transition of power.”

Could Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani face charges of inciting mob violence in Capitol riots?

  Could Donald Trump, Rudy Giuliani face charges of inciting mob violence in Capitol riots? Legal experts say President Donald Trump and attorney Rudy Giuliani could face criminal charges for inciting the riots on Capitol Hill.The president's comments came shortly before a pro-Trump mob bashed through barricades, windows and doors, injuring police officers and temporarily occupying the Capitol building in a show of force tied to their anger over false allegations of election fraud.

Alex M. Azar II has long been seen as a difficult personality in President Trump ’ s cabinet, but the Coronavirus Casts Unwelcome Spotlight on Trump ’ s Health Secretary. But if Mr. Azar is removed, it will not just be the result of concerns about the administration’ s response to the coronavirus .

HHS Secretary Alex Azar has gone from the face of President Donald Trump ' s virus team to a supporting character. There will be a notable omission when Vice President Mike Pence visits Washington state Thursday as part of the Trump administration' s coronavirus response : health

Despite its rebuke of Trump, however, Azar’s letter of resignation, effective at noon on Inauguration Day, is more of a formality than anything. Two Trump cabinet secretaries resigned in protest earlier in January following the deadly attack on the US Capitol, but Azar was not among them.

In December, President-elect Joe Biden nominated California attorney general Xavier Becerra to replace Azar as HHS secretary in the Biden administration.

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Azar ‘ s elevation to chief responder — and leader of President Donald Trump ’ s coronavirus task force — comes after a rocky week for him internally as the virus spread globally and triggered worries across financial markets, corporate executive suites and the White House. The virus is expected to spread

Matthew Pottinger, Trump ’ s deputy national security adviser, persistently urged more aggressive action in calling out China and sending teams there. But while word of the virus was included in several of the president’ s intelligence briefings, Trump wasn’t fully briefed on the threat until Health and Human

Political appointees usually submit resignation letters well before a new administration takes power, but until recently, according to the New York Times, Trump had been reluctant to request them as he continued to wage a doomed crusade against American democracy in a futile attempt to stay in office.

Last week, however, the Trump administration conceded to reality and requested those letters from the 4,000 or so political appointees currently serving in government — including Azar.

In addition to using his letter as a warning to Trump — who this week was impeached for a second time for inciting insurrection — Azar also rattled off a list of accomplishments in his approximately three-year tenure with HHS (Azar is the second HHS secretary of the Trump administration).

A diverse collection of initiatives — drug pricing, the opioid crisis, and rural health care disparities, to name a few — get a mention, but the Trump administration’s failed coronavirus response receives top billing in the letter.

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Earlier in the week, Trump had privately told allies he was close to taking the coronavirus response efforts out of the hands of Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar , two For weeks, some of Trump ' s aides and allies have tried to impress upon him the seriousness of the coronavirus situation

Numerous Democrats denounced the Trump administration’ s coronavirus response by pointing to the disbanding of a team within the White House Instead, Pence and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar went on the shows to talk about the epidemic and the administration’ s response .

“While we mourn every lost life,” Azar wrote of the coronavirus pandemic, which has now killed more than 392,000 people in the US, “Our early, aggressive, and comprehensive efforts saved hundreds of thousands or even millions of Americans lives.”

In reality, much of the Trump administration’s coronavirus response — from its earliest days to the present day, when the country is reporting an average of 231,675 cases per day — has been flailing and incompetent, and even the US vaccine rollout has devolved into something of a disaster, with early vaccination numbers badly lagging administration targets and even some doses of the vaccine being discarded unnecessarily.

Nevertheless, Azar lauded Operation Warp Speed — the Trump administration’s vaccine push — in his letter, which he claims “achieved in nine months what many doubted would be possible in a year and a half or more.”


Video: Trump administration asks states to speed up vaccinations (WMUR Manchester)

That’s not entirely untrue: As Vox’s Umair Irfan explained in December, developing a vaccine as quickly as the Pfizer-BioNTech and Moderna coronavirus vaccines were created is, in fact, an “unmatched scientific feat.”

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But again, the part of the vaccine effort meant to be directly handled by the Trump administration — namely, the distribution of the vaccine created by scientists in the private sector — has been full of costly mistakes.

Even as recently as this week, as the US approaches the one-year anniversary of the first known Covid-19 case in the country, there have been fumbles. Though Azar told states earlier this week that the administration would begin releasing vaccine doses previously held in reserve for a second shot, it turns out there aren’t any to release.

According to a Washington Post scoop Friday, the Trump administration had already begun shipping those doses late last year, leaving the vaccine stockpile largely depleted.

The miscommunication will likely have consequences at a state level. According to Oregon health director Patrick Allen in a letter to Azar, the lack of additional doses “puts our plans to expand eligibility at grave risk. Those plans were made on the basis of reliance on your statement about ‘releasing the entire supply’ you have in reserve. If this information [about the depleted vaccine reserve] is accurate, we will be unable to begin vaccinating our vulnerable seniors on Jan. 23, as planned.”

Biden has an ambitious plan to fix the US Covid-19 response

The incoming Biden administration, however, has pledged to fix the US coronavirus response and accelerate the pace of vaccinations, with a target of 100 million vaccine doses administered within the first 100 days in office.

No stockpile? Governors hit Washington as vaccine chokepoints pile up

  No stockpile? Governors hit Washington as vaccine chokepoints pile up Several governors on Friday accused HHS Secretary Alex Azar of deceiving them about how many doses they could expect in the near future. Azar said Tuesday that the Trump administration was planning to release a strategic reserve of doses that it had been holding back for booster shots, but governors said they have since learned that there is no reserve because it was already released before this week.“I am demanding answers from the Trump Administration,” Oregon Gov. Kate Brown, a Democrat, said Friday on Twitter.

“This will be one of the most challenging operational efforts we’ve ever undertaken as a nation,” Biden said Thursday of the US vaccine effort. “We’ll have to move heaven and earth to get more people vaccinated, to create more places for them to get vaccinated, to mobilize more medical teams to get shots in peoples’ arms.”

Rather than inheriting Operation Warp Speed, according to incoming Biden press secretary Jen Psaki, the new administration will create its own vaccine program, with former Chicago health commissioner Bechara Choucair spearheading the effort as vaccine coordinator.

According to Vox’s German Lopez, the federal government will also take a more prominent role in administering vaccines under the Biden administration, with the Federal Emergency Management Agency and National Guard units both helping to set up new vaccine clinics.

Additionally, the Biden plan, the most detailed form of which yet was released on Friday, calls for expanded vaccine eligibility, more rigorous use of the Defense Production Act to accelerate vaccine production, more public health workers, and an education campaign promoting vaccination.

Those initiatives will likely also be backed by a major infusion of funding: Biden announced a $1.9 trillion stimulus package plan this week, including — should Congress approve it — $400 billion for the US coronavirus response.

HHS Secretary Alex Azar complains of tarnished legacy to Trump

  HHS Secretary Alex Azar complains of tarnished legacy to Trump Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar has turned in a resignation letter in which he complains about a tarnished legacy for his department and the administration after riots in the Capitol.Azar submitted the standard resignation letter for a Cabinet secretary to offer an outgoing president, dated January 12 and obtained by CNN Friday.

As Lopez writes, it’s a promising start:

Biden’s plan hits many of the marks that I’ve heard from experts over the past few weeks as I’ve asked them about what’s going wrong with America’s vaccine rollout.

First, the plan has clear goals to address what supply chain experts call the “last mile” — the path vaccines take from storage to injection in patients — by making sure there’s enough staff, infrastructure, and planning to actually put shots in arms. Second, it takes steps to ensure that supply chain problems are fixed proactively, with careful monitoring and use of federal powers when needed to address bottlenecks. Last, but just as crucially, there’s a public education campaign to ensure that Americans actually want to get vaccinated when it’s their turn.

Still, implementation won’t be easy, and there’s need for haste: The US reported more than 4,000 deaths in a single day for the first time ever earlier this month and continues to report well over 200,000 new cases per day on average.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention also warned this week that a recently discovered more transmissible strain of Covid-19 is spreading quickly in the US and could lead to even more catastrophic numbers of cases and deaths in the near future. Rapid vaccination is seen as the best way to limit the threat posed by this new strain and to reduce the number of new cases overall.

“We’re about to be in the worst of it,” CDC Director Robert Redfield warned Friday in an NPR interview. “And I think if you’d listened to my comments in August and September, I told people that I really thought that the, December, January and February were going to be the roughest time this nation’s ever, ever experienced from a public health point of view.”

Outgoing HHS Secretary Azar Urges Trump to Condemn Violence, Says Riot Threatens Admin's Legacy .
"The attacks on the Capitol were an assault on our democracy and on the tradition of peaceful transitions of power that the United State of America first brought to the world," Alex Azar wrote to the president in a Friday letter.Azar, who was nominated by Trump as HHS secretary in November 2017, penned a letter to the White House Friday announcing his resignation at noon on Inauguration Day, January 20. He declined to follow fellow Cabinet members Betsy DeVos and Elaine Chao as they immediately resigned following the deadly riot, writing that it's "in the best interest of the people" for him and Trump to serve out their terms.

usr: 3
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