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Susan Collins Praises Trump's Coronavirus Press Briefings

The Maine senator said Trump's earlier pronouncements on the coronavirus pandemic were more hopeful than fact-based, but have improved since he's deferred to the medical experts.
Susan Collins Praises Trump's Coronavirus Press Briefings
Image from: Win McNamee/Getty Images

Collins' spin on Trump continuing to spread disinformation about the COVID-19 outbreak is about as Susan Collinsy as anything I've ever seen.

Do better, Maine. Elect Sara Gideon.

Source: Bangor Daily News

BDN: Last month, you said you wanted President Trump to “step back” from the public response to the virus. The president has made some comments over the past couple of months that downplayed the virus or were factually incorrect. For example, he said that in February cases in the U.S. were declining and then later that anyone who wanted a test could get one. Did some of his public comments contradict what you were hearing in private briefings at the time? Do you think that misinformation coming from the White House has caused real harm?

Collins: First let me say that I was among many who advised the president to listen more closely to the excellent medical advisers that he has like Dr. Fauci and like Dr. Deborah Birx [the White House coronavirus response coordinator], and he has been doing that lately. And I think his daily press briefings have been far more helpful to the American people and that he has deferred in many cases to the experts who usually accompany him to those press briefings.

In the beginning he was not involving the medical experts to the point that he should have. But now he is, and I think what we’ve seen is far more helpful and accurate information being disseminated.

BDN: I know you said that the president’s briefings have been better, and he’s been listening to the experts more, but what about before, when he wasn’t listening to the experts, do you think that that caused lasting harm to the country’s response?

Collins: It may have given some people a false sense of security, but the president did a lot that was right in the beginning. For example, he acted very early to ban travel to China, and that was a move, an action that he took that undoubtedly saved lives. I think in the beginning there were times when he was speaking about what he hoped would happen rather than relying on the data and information of his experts. That has changed, and I’m glad that it has.

And this part was especially telling, siding with Trump against her own state.

BDN: Hospitals in Maine could be overwhelmed by the virus soon. This week, you joined the Maine delegation to call on the Trump administration to release more protective equipment from the national stockpile. Florida has gotten what it requested with one administration official insinuating to The Washington Post that it was for electoral reasons. Maine has not gotten what it requested. What do you know about the allocations and what can be done about it?

Collins: I’m very glad you asked about that because the data show that that is just not the case. There has been a widely quoted statistic that Maine got only 5 percent of its requests and Florida got 100 percent of its requests. The fact is that Maine requested far more masks than Florida did. When you look at the number of masks that had been sent out in three different shipments from the national stockpile, 86,000 masks have been sent to the state of Maine and that is one mask for every 15 Mainers. In Florida, the number of masks is 540,000, but that equates to only one out of every 40 [Floridians] receiving or having masks. So the masks are generally allocated on a per-capita basis.

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