Tuesday Jun 22, 2021
Former US president Donald Trump had seriously considered sending covid-positive American tourists to Guantanamo Bay island, a report by the Washington Post has revealed.
According to the report, before the coronavirus crisis blew up in the US, a meeting was held, in February 2020, at the Situation Room of the White House to debate whether to allow US citizens that had travelled to coronavirus-hit countries to return and receive care.
“Don’t we have an island that we own?” the president reportedly asked White House officials.
“We import goods,” Trump said. “We are not going to import a virus.”
Stunned, his advisors quickly brushed aside the suggestion when it was brought up a second time, afraid of the backlash that would erupt over isolating Americans on the same base where terrorism suspects are held.
Such insights, among others, inside Trump's handling of the crisis in the early days, are revealed in a book by Washington Post journalists Yasmeen Abutaleb and Damian Paletta, titled “Nightmare Scenario: Inside the Trump Administration’s Response to the Pandemic That Changed History”.
"The book offers new insights about Trump as the president careened between embracing miracle coronavirus cures in his quest for good news, grappling with his own illness — which was far more serious than officials acknowledged — and fretting about the outbreak’s implications for his reelection bid," reads the publication's report.
Among such events was one incident in which in a phone call to then then-Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar, Trump had reportedly berated him over coronavirus testing.
“Testing is killing me!” Trump reportedly shouted, loud enough that Azar's aide's heard. “I’m going to lose the election because of testing! What idiot had the federal government do testing?”
“Uh, do you mean Jared?” Azar responded, citing the president’s senior adviser and son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
According to Washington Post, just five days prior, Kushner had pledged he would lead a national testing strategy and enlist the help of the private sector, Abutaleb and Paletta wrote in their book.
Trump argued that the US government should never have got involved in testing, questioning why the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was seeking to track infections at all.
“This was gross incompetence to let CDC develop a test,” Trump reportedly said.
The Washington Post report states that experts believe that it was inadequate testing that led to the spread of the virus across the country in early 2020, making all contact tracing and isolation efforts nearly impossible, which snowballed into a first wave of a staggering number of cases, hospitalisations and fatalities.