Donald Trump‘s renewed focus on the coronavirus pandemic came after new maps and data showed his voting base was under threat, according to a new report.
Quoting unnamed senior administration officials, The Washington Post reported that coronavirus warnings resonated with Mr Trump after senior advisers presented new research showing a rise in cases among “our people” in Republican states.
The advisers also shared projections predicting surges in Midwest states key to the 2020 election, including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin.
In recent weeks, Mr Trump has reinstated his daily coronavirus press conferences, cancelled the RNC convention in Florida, and announced new relief funding packages.
In addition to the White House coronavirus taskforce, the administration has established a separate, smaller working group led by Deborah Birx and Jared Kushner that meets daily, senior administration officials told the Post.
They said that the group, which includes the vice president’s chief of staff Mark Short and the president’s senior policy adviser Stephen Miller, is half focused on the pandemic response and half on the White House’s public message.
Advisers and people familiar with Mr Trump’s approach reportedly said barriers to addressing the crisis sooner were the president’s “magical thinking” and a positive feedback loop from staffers and conservative media that made him distrustful of medical experts.
In an email response to the claims made in the Post, White House spokeswoman Sarah Matthews said the president acted “early and decisively”.
“The president has also led an historic, whole-of-America coronavirus response – resulting in 100,000 ventilators procured, sourcing critical PPE for our front-line heroes, and a robust testing regime resulting in more than double the number of tests than any other country in the world,” Ms Matthews said, according to the newspaper.
“His message has been consistent and his strong leadership will continue as we safely reopen the economy, expedite vaccine and therapeutics developments, and continue to see an encouraging decline in the US mortality rate.”
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