Biden releases secret Trump administration pandemic reports
The White House have published all of the covid-19 state reports issued since June, which show that Trump downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic.
The Biden administration have announced that they will be publishing the weekly state-specific covid-19 reports which outline the federal government’s response to the pandemic. Crucially they will also be releasing old reports retroactively, meaning that records from the Trump administration will also be made public.
The earliest of these reports date back to June 2020 and were the subject of tight censorship during President Trump’s time in office. The reports were issued to state officials every week but they were not providers to reporters or published publically. From December the Trump administration actually stopped provided them to the states proactively, instead requiring officials to make a direct request for the vital information.
Biden administration promises greater transparency in covid-19 response
The transition of power on 20 January brought not just a change of government but a very different style of governance to the White House. Since taking office President Biden has pledged to be more transparent in his efforts to control the pandemic and this can be seen as an important step in that process.
A White House official told CNN that the new administration will be "committed to being a partner to states for resources and clear guidance" and will "be transparent even when it is not easy or when the truth is difficult."
Biden’s Covid-19 Response Team will also be working on improving the “data presentation of the CDC's ‘Covid-19 Tracker' webpage in our ongoing commitment to transparency and information-sharing to our governors and the public.”
On 29 January the White House Covid-19 Response Team’s official Twitter account published the first batch of reports, providing a link to state-specific profile reports generated in partnership with the White House.
Reports warn of “inadequate” response
Having secured prior access to the mass of data released by the White House, CNN has reported some key findings from the state reports which have been sent on a weekly basis for the last six months. In many instances the difference between Trump’s public response and the advice given by public health experts is stark.
In November, reports warned of "aggressive, unrelenting, expanding broad community spread ... without evidence of improvement, but rather, further deterioration.” This came shortly after Trump’s pre-election proclamations that the United States was “turning the corner” on the pandemic. Official documents produced by Trump’s own coronavirus team at the time described the existing mitigation efforts as “inadequate”.
Shortly after came warnings that there was an increased risk of infection during the holiday period as people were likely to congregate for celebrations. The recently-released reports show that state officials were advised to "begin warning about any gathering during December holidays." Meanwhile the Trump White House held numerous unmasked holiday parties at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Deborah Birx served as US coronavirus response coordinator for much of the period detailed in the reports and in a recent interview gave her thoughts on Trump’s handling of the pandemic. She claimed that some in the Trump White House “definitely believed this was a hoax”. She also suggested that Trump's desire to win re-election influenced the dissemination of vital coronavirus information.