The United States was ranked the best-prepared country in the world to handle a pandemic in late 2019 by the Nuclear Threat Initiative (NTI) and the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security (JHU) — an assessment seemingly at odds with claims by Democrats that the Trump administration left the country vulnerable to the ongoing coronavirus outbreak.
The Global Health Security Index was was “developed with guidance from an international panel of experts from 13 countries, with research by the Economist Intelligence Unit,” The Washington Post reported last year. “More than 100 researchers spent a year collecting and validating publicly available data.”
At the same time, the paper noted that the U.S. score was still not perfect, and that “factors driving down the U.S. score include the risks of social unrest and terrorism, and low public confidence in government.”
SEE THE FULL 2019 GLOBAL HEALTH SECURITY INDEX RANKINGS
President Trump’s campaign has argued in recent days that misinformation may be one of the leading causes of that lack of confidence. For example, Trump’s team has pointed to claims by presidential contender Joe Biden that “no one on the National Security Council staff was put in charge” of pandemic preparedness, based on a report that in May 2018, then-National Security Adviser John Bolton eliminated the NSC’s Office of Global Health Security and Biodefense in a reorganization effort.
Rear Adm. R. Timothy Ziemer reportedly was ousted as senior director, and no replacement was named. But, FactCheck.org has determined that the matter amounted to a reorganization, and that “some team members [of the NSC pandemic office] were shifted to other groups, and others took over some of [the top official’s] duties.”
The White House says the NSC remains involved in responding to the coronavirus pandemic. A senior administration official said earlier this month that the NSC’s global health security directorate was absorbed into another division where similar responsibilities still exist, but under different titles. The work of coordinating policy and making sure that decisions made by Trump’s coronavirus task force are implemented is still the job of the NSC.
Separately, the Biden team has repeatedly argued that the president once referred to coronavirus as a “hoax.” That claim has been refuted by numerous fact-checkers, including the Post’s, which found that Trump was clearly referring to Democrats’ efforts to blame him for the pandemic, not the virus itself.
In the middle the pandemic, you called Coronavirus the “swine flu,” opposed travel restrictions from global epicenters that experts have credited as helpful, and parroted the CCP’s ‘bigotry’ line on Beijing culpability. https://t.co/XBwvHi4Qtw
— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) March 24, 2020
Additionally, numerous Democrats, including Biden, have falsely claimed that the president cut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) budget. The Associated Press has noted that those claims “distort” the facts.
Trump’s budgets have proposed cuts to public health, only to be overruled by Congress, where there’s strong bipartisan support for agencies such as the CDC and NIH. Instead, financing has increased. Indeed, the money that government disease detectives first tapped to fight the latest outbreak was a congressional fund created for health emergencies.
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