Group Seeks Communications Between the Trump Administration and State Officials to Pinpoint Failures Related to COVID-19 Testing and Identify Politicized Federal Aid

WASHINGTON, D.C. In response to the Trump administration’s failure to provide states with adequate testing and other support they need to respond to the COVID-19 public health crisis, Accountable.US has filed public records requests in all 50 states (plus D.C., American Samoa, and Guam). The government watchdog is seeking communications between state officials and the administration in order to determine if and how federal aid was mismanaged and politicized, and to pinpoint failures related to COVID-19 testing.

To date, nearly 200 public records requests have been filed, with more on the way. Thus far, records have been returned from Georgia and Oregon (details below), both uncovering systemic Trump administration failures. As more responsive records are returned, they will be posted online as a resource for reporters and Americans trying to make sense of the chaos.

“President Trump’s response to the COVID-19 public health crisis has been one of epic mismanagement glossed over with briefing room theatrics and misinformation designed to obscure the truth from the American people,” said Kyle Herrig, president of Accountable.US. “Where are the tests? Why isn’t the administration following through on its commitment to help states meet the needs of their constituents? What promises have been made and broken? These public records requests will help shed some much-needed sunlight on these and other important questions.”

For months, states have languished without the necessary medical resources to respond to COVID-19. After Trump assured the American people that anyone who wants a test can get a test, the administration has failed to deliver. After promising testing kits and Personal Protective Equipment (PPE), the administration offered only miscommunications, misinformation, and chaos. State governments have been forced to largely handle the crisis among themselves, considering forming their own consortiums to obtain PPE and coordinating with each other on reopening their economies independently of the Trump administration’s plans.

Thus far, Accountable.US has received responsive documents from Oregon and Georgia.

Documents obtained by Accountable.US from the Oregon Health Authority reveal previously unreported details concerning the Trump administration’s inability to provide the state with adequate supplies for testing, even as Trump and his officials publicly stated that there were no problems with testing and capacity would increase rapidly. Meanwhile, documents obtained by Accountable.US from the Georgia Emergency Management and Homeland Security Agency revealed Governor Brian Kemp’s failure to properly manage his state’s response to COVID-19 as he sought to assist President Trump by providing an alternative public narrative rather than coming clean about chaotic communications with the Trump administration and its failure to follow through on commitments of support.

Thus far, Accountable.US has submitted nearly 200 public records requests seeking information from state governments concerning the following:

  • The means by which governors, health departments, and emergency management agencies have received medical supplies (PPE & ventilators) from the federal government — or haven’t;
  • The ways governors, health departments, and emergency management agencies have coordinated with the Trump administration — or gone against it — in order to implement social distancing and shelter-in-place orders;
  • State-specific issues regarding safety protocols, medical supplies procurement, and general COVID-19 response, including:
    • Florida not closing beaches during spring break;
    • Wisconsin holding in-person voting on election day;
    • South Dakota’s 3M factory shipments;
    • And Massachusetts getting the New England Patriots to carry PPE to hospitals in the team’s trailer trucks.

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