Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar waited weeks to brief President Donald Trump on the coronavirus threat and oversold the progress of developing an effective test for the virus, The Wall Street Journal is reporting.
The newspaper said that as of Jan. 29, Azar had assured Trump the coronavirus outbreak was under control. And during the meeting with Trump, Azar said the government had never mounted a better interagency response to a crisis.
The Journal attributed the information to administration officials.
It said when Azar was asked about diagnostic testing, he told Trump it was “the fastest we’ve ever created a test.” He also said more than one million tests would be available within weeks.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention started shipping tests the next week. However, it was forced to recall them when officials discovered a flaw.
The government declared a national emergency six weeks after the Jan. 29 meeting.
Meanwhile, Trump campaign veteran Michael Caputo has now been installed as the new HHS spokesperson. Politico reported the positioning of Caputo is designed to give the White House more control over Azar.
Trump has called out Azar following a New York Times report that stated Azar had warned the president of the possibility of a pandemic on Jan. 20.
The president called the story “fake” and said Azar “told me nothing until later.”
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