CNN’s Harwood: Pence Mishandled the HIV Epidemic. He Could Also Mishandle the Coronavirus

CNN’s Harwood: Pence Mishandled the HIV Epidemic. He Could Also Mishandle the Coronavirus


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Daniel Duffy
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press

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Coronavirus, officially named COVID-19, is a new virus strain originating from Wuhan, China, and is thought to have spread from animals to humans. So far, the virus has spread rapidly to more than 50 countries, infecting approximately 84,000 people and killing around 3,000 worldwide.

On February 27, John Harwood, the CNN White House correspondent, discussed on CNN News his thoughts regarding President Donald Trump’s recent press conference, where Trump spoke about the coronavirus and appointed Vice President Mike Pence as the coronavirus task force leader. 

During the conference, Trump emphasized that they are fully prepared for an outbreak if one occurs and the risk to Americans still remains very low. This announcement came just before confirmation of the first US case suspected of contracting the virus through community spread, where there is no known source of infection. 

Harwood criticized Trump for his overconfidence, warning that he was underestimating the potential spread and how difficult the virus would be to control. “I think what we saw last night at that news conference was the president in front of all of us, we could all see it, struggling to accept the reality of the situation,” Harwood said. “Maybe it is like the flu, maybe it is easier, maybe it is harder,” he continued, “it is not inevitable. Well, that was shown right after the news conference, that we are going to have community spread. We have community spread.” 

Harwood also criticized Trump’s decision, drawing attention to Pence’s previous handling of the Indiana HIV crisis when he was the governor of Indiana.

In 2015, Indiana suffered the worst HIV outbreak the state had ever experienced. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention highly recommended that a needle-exchange program be implemented to prevent transmission, but at the time the program was illegal in state law and Pence refused to authorize it. Eventually Pence did finally approve the program, however, if he had acted more quickly, it would have significantly reduced the number of those infected by HIV. “We all remember that as governor of Indiana, [Pence] struggled to cope with a public health crisis on HIV by delaying needle exchanges,” Harwood explained, “that had real consequences in terms of lives lost.”  

Harwood further addressed how the stock markets are drastically plunging after Trump’s response, an evident sign of concerns about his approach to the situation.

The Dow dropped more than 1,000 points — its worst one-day drop of all time. “What you have seen today and last night when Dow futures fell while that press conference was going on is a no confidence vote from financial markets,” Harwood remarked. 

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