Letters to the Editor
March 4, 2020

To the Editor:
One concerning issue coming our way is the coronavirus which originated in Wuhan, China. World travel being what it is, protection against pandemics requires transparency, long-term and short-term preparations, and the funding to support them. The coronavirus sheds light on the administration’s lack of understanding and preventable failures in meeting this and future health threats.
COVID-19 is still considered a fairly low risk to Americans, but U.S. health officials have been warning for over a month that a pandemic was a significant threat, with very little response from our government. Now, when the threat appears to be gaining steam worldwide, our president rants that Democrats are weaponizing the threat to hurt the stock market and make him look bad. Don Jr. declared that Democrats are hoping the virus kills millions of Americans to end his father's "winning streak." How small, self-centered, and miserable do people have to be to make such hateful statements? But, it is a chance to once again play victim.
VP Mike Pence is the new coronavirus czar though he has no medical background and barely believes in science. He managed to expedite the spread of HIV as governor of Indiana by banning needle exchange (go ahead and inject with your infected friend's needle). The president, when the threat became apparent this last week, did try to fund anti-virus efforts by offering up 37 million dollars designated to help poor people obtain winter heating oil as funding against the contagion. What a guy.
When the Obamacare (ACA) was passed in 2010, it established and financed the Prevention and Public Health Fund (PPHF), but Republicans have worked to undermine that law (and all things Obama). When the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act was signed into law in 2018, it cut $750 million from the PPHF. The significant reduction in funding to the PPHF has been accompanied by cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and staffing has been slashed. In 2018, the Trump administration further diverted millions of dollars from the National Institutes of Health (NIH).
The Trump administration’s budget for 2020 proposes additional drastic cuts to public health and the CDC. Mercifully, those proposals are unlikely “wins” for the administration in either the House or Senate, certainly now. But we are already unprepared because of the lack of funding in the prior three years.
Trump, as always, wants to gut the U.S. contribution to international organizations, specifically the World Health Organization (WHO), whining as he always does that other countries are not paying their fair share. Trump again fails to see that disease (like failed alliances for national security with NATO) puts everyone at risk in a world that grows smaller every day. Disease knows no national borders and this virus is not the last threat we will see.
Just as he does in taking his Sharpie to facts and programs and maps he doesn't like, Trump believes that saving his own presidential hide is the true bottom line. In fact, it is the health and welfare of the nation. He gambled that the health funding wouldn't be needed, and he lost.
Kelly Scoles
Fillmore, Ca