Obama’s Ebola Czar Ron Klain: Trump Gets an ‘F’ for Coronavirus Response

White House Ebola Response Coordinator Ron Klain speaks during discussion December 5, 2014 at Georgetown University in Washington, DC. The university held a discussion on "Ebola: Responding to the Domestic and Global Challenges." (Photo by Alex Wong/Getty Images)
Alex Wong/Getty Images

Appearing Friday on CNBC, Ron Klain, who served as President Barack Obama’s Ebola czar, graded President Donald Trump’s response to the Chinese coronavirus an “F.”

A transcript is as follows: 

RON KLAIN: Fairly, I’d have to say it’s an F and I’ll tell you why. First of all, the travel ban from China was always, only partial. If you had a true travel ban from China, we wouldn’t have the virus here. But it is right? And it’s here in very large numbers. Commercial cargo is always exempted, obviously, the return of U.S. citizens are always exempted. Even after this was in place thousands of people were coming from China every day. Now, we knew that and there’s no question that Dr. [Anthony] Fauci [an immunologist with the National Institutes of Health of the United States] is right, that it bought us some time. But we squandered that time, and if you look at the countries that have been most successful, they used the time they got, the time they knew the virus was coming until the time it came, to ramp up testing, to ramp up hospitals, to ramp up gear, to ramp up PPE [personal protective equipment]. We didn’t do any of those things. We sat around and spent those two months saying it’s not going to be here, 15 cases, it’s going to go to zero.

What we’re living with now in the country, the virus was created by nature, but the failed response was created by decisions we made. I think we’re seeing the consequences of that. There’s no reason why America is testing at a fraction of the rate of South Korea, there’s no reason why we didn’t ramp up like Singapore to deal with this.

“Certainly, the response is getting better now,” Klain concluded. “But we’re going to pay a huge price for squandering January, squandering February, squandering even a little bit of March.”


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