Obama-era Ebola czar hits back at claims Trump was not left a pandemic playbook: 'Here's the cover'

Would it have helped? — 'Here's the cover, and the table of contents. You decide'

Oliver O'Connell
New York
Wednesday 13 May 2020 22:25
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Mitch McConnell claims the Obama administration did not leave them a 'game plan' for a pandemic

The coordinator of the response to the 2014 Ebola outbreak has hit back at the suggestion that the Trump White House was not left a game plan for dealing with a pandemic by the Obama administration.

The accusation was made by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell in an interview with Lara Trump earlier this week.

Ron Klain, the Ebola czar for President Barack Obama, responded on Twitter on Tuesday. He wrote: “I've had people tweet at me in the past 24 hours: Did the pandemic playbook really exist? Was it really a clearly marked "playbook"? Would it have helped?”

“Here's the cover, and the table of contents. You decide,” Mr Klain added, attaching an image of the first two pages of the playbook.

The 69-page National Security Council document outlines a full set of strategies for dealing with a pandemic — from detecting outbreaks, to securing funding, and making use of the Defence Production Act.

Politico reported in March that the Trump Administration had even been briefed on the document in 2017. Donald Trump disbanded the White House pandemic response team the following year.

Officially called The Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents, the playbook provides decision makers with step-by-step instructions regarding questions to ask, agency counterparts to consult for answers, and key decisions to be made at each stage of an outbreak.

The executive summary outlines the goal of the playbook as being “to assist US government experts and leaders in coordinating a complex US government response to a high-consequence emerging disease threat anywhere in the world with potential to cause an epidemic, pandemic, or other significant public health event.”

Mr Klain’s followers were quick to reply with links to the whole document and even a previous plan, The National Strategy for Pandemic Influenza: Implementation Plan from 2006.

In addition to making spurious claims regarding the lack of an existing pandemic plan, Senator McConnell is also under fire for other comments he made in the same interview. He declined to support another sweeping coronavirus relief package, saying he hasn’t yet “felt the urgency of acting immediately”.

Democrats reacted furiously to Mr McConnell’s comments. Senator Cory Booker tweeted: “83,000 people are dead. 1.4 million Americans have become infected. 30 million workers have filed for unemployment. How much more suffering could you possibly need to see to be convinced that more help is urgently needed?”

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