Flu is ravaging America at its worst rate in a decade, and the agencies tasked with saving lives are under assault from Donald Trump.
America is facing a historically dangerous flu season, but the Trump administration has undertaken a series of catastrophic positions and initiatives that considerably increase the risk of deaths for thousands of Americans.
Already, 37 children have died during this flu season, and the problem is getting worse.
The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) said it expects to have a flu season that is “something around” the severity of the 2014-15 flu season. In that time period, 34 million people got the flu: 710,000 were hospitalized, and 56,000 people died.
The severity is as intense as it was during the 2009 swine flu pandemic and intensifying, according to officials.
The difference now is that the flu is flourishing under an administration intent on hobbling the national response to severe medical conditions.
In its 2017 budget, the Trump administration proposed a $1.2 billion cut a full 17 percent to the CDC, the agency on the front lines of the national response to the flu outbreak. If Trump had his way, the agency would have faced an enormous shortfall just as the crisis began.
Former CDC Director Tom Frieden, who worked under the Obama administration, sounded the alarms on the proposed cuts. He described them as “unsafe at any level of enactment,” adding that the Trump proposal “would increase illness, death, risks to Americans, and health care costs.”
These warnings were worrisome before, but now, in the midst of the outbreak, they show how unprepared and unserious the Trump administration has been on vital issues like public health.
Similarly, the Trump administration left hundreds of positions at the CDC vacant, including those that were key to federal emergency preparedness for pandemics. The staffing gap came as the Trump team tried to adhere to conservative “small government” dogma. It’s an approach that has left numerous position unfilled through the federal government.The State Department, for examples, has had serious staffing issues, including a number of empty diplomatic posts.
What they have focused on at the Trump-era CDC is an inane crackdown on language. CDC officials have faced new controls on how they can and cannot speak to the media. A series of terms and topics were completely banned, including “diversity,” “transgender,” “fetus,” “science-based,” and “evidence-based.”
It is unknown whether the CDC can even discuss the “evidence-based” projections of illness and death in this flu season.
Trump and his Republican allies have campaigned for years on an anti-government message. As they have demonstrated so many times, when the government is led by a party that is overtly anti-government, it often leads to disaster. And innocent people will suffer because of it.