Fact-Check: Obama Waited Until 'Millions' Infected and 1000 Dead in U.S. Before Declaring H1N1 National Emergency
"Let's call it Trumpvirus," urged a New York Times opinion writer conspiratorially. Nancy Pelosi groused that President Trump waited too long to attack the coronavirus (COVID-19) and then impetuously declared he couldn't have leftover and unspent Ebola virus money to fight it, while Senator Chuck Schumer looked down his nose and over his glasses to intone that it was the end of the world and the president hadn't spent enough money to stop the scourge. Joe Biden and Michael Bloomberg have both been called out for politicizing the virus.
By their lights, Trump's doing it all wrong. They won't be able to tell you why, but (stomps foot) they just know. They're praying for a pandemic filled with infected people and decimation of the stock market just to fix Trump's wagon in his re-election campaign, now that the whole Russian-secret-agent and peeing-hooker story went belly-up.
They just know that he's such a dummy that it wouldn't ever occur to him to stop air travel from an infected nation, increase screenings, involuntarily quarantine those infected with the virus when they were repatriated and seek a vaccine now.
Oh, wait, he has done all of those things and has been called a racist for doing it.
We've had several creepy viruses emerge over the past two decades. There's been MRSA, SARS, and H1N1 (swine flu), to name a few. But it's been the H1N1 flu that has been most compared to this outbreak.
Surely, St. Barack of Obama would have dealt with this horrible pandemic better than Orange Man Bad, right? No-Drama-Obama had this whole thing under control, of course!
Well, let's compare and contrast.
The American Journal of Clinical Pathology reports that this coronavirus (COVID-19) was first seen in late December:
On December 30, 2019, scientists in China "a cluster of patients with pneumonia of unknown etiology was observed in Wuhan, China, and reported to the World Health Organization (WHO) China bureau in Beijing. A week later, January 7, 2020, a new coronavirus (SARS-CoV-2) was isolated from these patients."
As we suspect, the Chinese government tried to keep the virus outbreak secret – for what reason we don't know. What we do know, however, is that by January 31, 2020, President Trump had declared a public health emergency and began restricting U.S. access to non-citizens from China. Flights filled with U.S. citizens who were in Wuhan were brought to America and those people were quarantined on U.S. military bases for two weeks.
Though he lamented being called a "racist" for doing so, Trump says if he hadn't hardened the U.S. borders at that point, the virus would have had gained a bigger foothold in the country.
Now, let's go to the Wayback Machine.
While American health officials declared a public health emergency on April 26, 2009, then-Homeland Security Secretary Janet Napolitano downplayed the announcement, calling it “standard operating procedure," adding that she would rather refer to it as a "declaration of emergency preparedness." It wasn't until four months later in October, that then-President Obama himself declared an H1N1 national emergency.
CNN reported in October 2009:
Since the H1N1 flu pandemic began in April, millions of people in the United States have been infected, at least 20,000 have been hospitalized and more than 1,000 have died, said Dr. Thomas Frieden, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. [emphasis added]
In fact, the Kaiser Family Foundation noted the emergency declaration in its newsletter in October 2009 and described what it does, including giving help to hospitals, triage aid, and ways to segregate the H1N1 patients from other patients:
President Barack Obama declared the H1N1 (swine) flu outbreak a national emergency, the Wall Street Journal reports. “The declaration, which Mr. Obama signed Friday, authorizes the administration to waive or modify certain federal requirements involving Medicare, Medicaid and health-privacy rules to speed treatment,” the newspaper writes (McKay/Simpson/Whalen, 10/26).
The national emergency declaration will “allow hospitals and governments on the local level to more rapidly prepare triage sites and procedures to handle any future surge in sick patients,” TIME writes. “A hospital in danger of being overrun by H1N1 patients would be allowed to segregate them in a separate site for treatment, which might slow the spread of the disease” (Walsh, 10/24).
“The declaration Saturday did not signify any unanticipated worsening in the United States of the H1N1 outbreak, officials said,” the New York Times reports. “It seemed likely, however, to increase concerns, disruptions and at times, panicky reactions, to a disease now affecting most parts of the world.” U.S. health officials on Friday saidÂ more thanÂ 1,000 Americans have died from H1N1 (Calmes/McNeil, 10/25).
In a second story, the New York Times examines growing confusion and anger among H1N1 vaccine-seekers in the U.S. Though the U.S. is currently experiencing an H1N1 vaccine shortage, health officials say current H1N1 shortages “are temporary.”
Furthermore, the CDC's Frieden fretted at the time that efforts to create a vaccine had stumbled:
"We are nowhere near where we thought we would be," Frieden said, acknowledging that manufacturing delays have contributed to less vaccine being available than expected. "As public health professionals, vaccination is our strongest tool. Not having enough is frustrating to all of us."
Frieden said that while the way vaccine is manufactured is "tried and true," it's not well-suited for ramping up production during a pandemic because it takes at least six months. The vaccine is produced by growing weakened virus in eggs.
But wait, there's more.
According to Virology Journal, the 2009 H1N1 came into the U.S. from Mexico:
The swine-origin influenza A (H1N1) virus that appeared in 2009 and was first found in human beings in Mexico, is a reassortant with at least three parents. Six of the genes are closest in sequence to those of H1N2 'triple-reassortant' influenza viruses isolated from pigs in North America around 1999-2000.
Now, about that "racist" wall ...
Every time the Left tries to make Trump look bad on this issue they're found to be frauds.
Democrats and their allies in the media and "fact check" sites have weaponized the virus stories to get Trump. Of course they have.
But for the sake of argument, can we all stipulate that it would be really nice if we could just get humans to stop sleeping with pigs, kissing birds, and eating live bats so we wouldn't have to deal with this?
This article has been updated to correct the timeline of events and add details about Obama's declaration of a national emergency.