Pelosi says Trump is 'like a man who refuses to ask for directions' on coronavirus pandemic

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi said Thursday that President Trump was “like a man who refuses to ask for directions” in ignoring scientific advice on how to respond to the worsening coronavirus pandemic.

At her weekly news conference in the nation’s capital, Pelosi, D-Calif., again called on Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase supplies of personal protective equipment for health care workers treating COVID-19, which as of Thursday afternoon had killed at least 137,000 Americans and infected more than 3.5 million people here.

“The president has made so many bad executive decisions. We wish he would make a good executive decision and do that,” Pelosi told reporters. “Observing his behavior, I have concluded that he is like a man who refuses to ask for directions. All of the answers are there. The scientists have the answers. We know that testing, tracing, treating, distancing, masking, sanitation can stop the spread of this virus, and yet the president continues to go down the wrong path and refuses to ask for directions from scientists who know better than any of us.”

As the president and many Republicans in Congress are pushing for the reopening of the nation’s schools despite a sharp rise in the number of COVID-19 cases across multiple states over the past few weeks, Pelosi has stepped up her pressure on Trump.

“If we want to open our economy and now if we want to open our schools, we have to have the testing, we have to have the judgment, and therefore we need the equipment and we also need the PPE,” Pelosi told reporters on Wednesday.

Since COVID-19 began spreading across the U.S. in February, Trump has used the DPA sparingly, issuing contracts to 19 companies to produce emergency supplies like face masks. Critics say the administration needs to do much more, especially if schools are to reopen in the fall.

With members of the Trump administration openly attacking Dr. Anthony Fauci, Trump spoke by phone with the leading expert on infectious diseases on the president’s coronavirus task force on Thursday, the first conversation between the two men since June 2.

WASHINGTON, DC - JULY 16: Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) talks to reporters during her weekly news conference in the U.S. Capitol Visitors Center July 16, 2020 in Washington, DC. Pelosi said that House Democrats want to get children and teachers safely back in the classroom but that would not be possible without President Donald Trump using the Defense Production Act to make more equipment to protect people from the novel coronavirus pandemic. (Photo by Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)
Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi talks to reporters Thursday. (Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images)

Fauci has largely been sidelined as the public face of the administration’s coronavirus response, as task force briefings have been largely supplanted by events at the White House and with Republican governors that better resemble campaign rallies.

On June 26, at the last public briefing of the coronavirus task force, Vice President Mike Pence declared that “we’re in a much better place” in dealing with COVID-19, despite record-setting numbers of new cases being reported in Texas and Florida. Pence also echoed the president’s false assertion that increased testing for COVID-19 is the sole reason for the recent spike in cases, saying that “the volume of new cases coming in is a reflection of a great success in expanding testing across the country.”

Since that June 26 briefing, another 12,000 Americans have died from COVID-19, and hospital beds in U.S. cities and towns considered hot spots for the virus have been filling up. After falling for weeks, the number of daily deaths has begun rising again, approaching 1,000.

But Trump has continued to push states to reopen their schools, threatening to withhold federal funding to those districts that refuse.

A Yahoo News/YouGov poll released Thursday found that 63 percent of Americans believe Trump should not be pressuring schools to reopen. Only 25 percent say he should continue his push.

At Thursday’s press conference, Pelosi stuck with her analogy to drive home the point that Trump is ignoring those who know best when it comes to public safety.

“Mr. President, admit it: You’ve gone down the wrong path. Ask for direction. Ask for directions from our scientists,” she said.


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