Health Care Industry Frets That Trump Will End COVID-19 Emergency Declaration

President Donald Trump leaves after speaking to the press on May 22, 2020, in the Brady Briefing Room of the White House. (Photo by MANDEL NGAN/AFP via Getty Images)
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June 23, 2020 6:11 p.m.

Health care industry officials are reportedly worried about the Trump administration considering scaling back the national emergency declaration for COVID-19.

According to an LA Times report on Tuesday, health care industry officials are worried about the spread of the novel coronavirus if the emergency declaration is scaled back. The officials fret over the difficulty that state and local governments and health systems would experience in trying to control the outbreak without the emergency declaration in place.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany denied the move in a statement to TPM.

“I just spoke with the President, and he said we are not looking at lifting the national emergency declarations,” McEnany said.

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Several industry officials told the LA Times that the Trump administration signaled to them over the last week that lifting emergency declarations was under consideration. The LA Times noted that the discussions took place amid hospitalizations and caseloads related to COVID-19 continue to rise rapidly in several large states that moved early to ease up on coronavirus restrictions.

“It was very much under discussion,” one industry official told the LA Times.

Health care leaders told the LA Times that they’re puzzled over the Trump administration’s reluctance toward extending the emergency declarations.

“It’s the silence that worries us,” Meg Murray, chief executive of the Association for Community Affiliated Plans, told the LA Times.“If they were seeing the world the way we are, we’d expect them to be more clear.”

Dr. Georges Benjamin, the longtime head of the American Public Health Association, shared a similar sentiment with the LA Times, saying that “the administration is trying to pretend that this is over, but it’s clearly not.”

“Many governors are still struggling to figure out what they need to do, particularly in those states where they are beginning to realize they have emergencies,” Benjamin told the LA Times. “We need the flexibility that emergency declarations provide.”

The Trump administration has recently downplayed the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday morning, the President insisted that he wasn’t kidding when he told attendees at his campaign rally over the weekend in Tulsa that he asked his administration to “slow the testing down, please” on the novel coronavirus.

Trump had initially contradicted McEnany’s insistence the day before to reporters that the President made the comment at the rally “in jest.” However, McEnany defended the President’s “I don’t kid” remark aboard Air Force One on Tuesday by arguing that he “appreciates testing” and that he was “using sarcasm.”

Testifying before the House Energy & Commerce Committee on the government’s COVID-19 response on Tuesday, several prominent public health officials such as Dr. Anthony Fauci said that they haven’t spoken to the President in weeks.

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