- The Washington Times - Friday, May 15, 2020

The White House said Friday that President Trump’s “playbook” for responding to pandemics is more effective than the plan he inherited from President Barack Obama.

White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany said the administration issued its pandemic crisis “action plan” in 2018, and conducted a simulated exercise called “Crimson Contagion” in August 2019 to test the nation’s response to a widespread outbreak of an infectious disease. She said the lessons learned “informed President Trump’s coronavirus response beginning as early as January” of this year.

She said the administration’s “after-action report” on the simulated exercise found that the Obama-era plan from November 2016 “does not provide the requisite mechanisms or processes to effectively lead the coordination of the federal government’s response.”

“Instead, President Trump established the White House coronavirus task force and put Vice President Pence in charge of the interagency response,” she said. “These were effective decisions and they undoubtedly enhanced our response to the coronavirus.”

Presumptive Democratic nominee Joseph R. Biden has accused the president of being slow to take steps to prevent the virus from spreading in the U.S.

Mr. Trump on Thursday signed an executive order aimed at replenishing the nation’s stockpile of medical supplies such as N-95 masks, saying the Obama administration left the shelves nearly bare after an outbreak of swine flu in 2009.

Ms. McEnany also pushed back at criticism that Mr. Trump largely disbanded a pandemic crisis response team under the National Security Council in 2018. She said Mr. Trump “streamlined” the NSC by creating a “counter-proliferation and bio-defense Directorate.”

“This Directorate combined NSC experts focused on biological threats under a single and more senior leader, and did away with a confusing organizational chart that required some experts to report to two bosses simultaneously,” she said. “The NSC retained the same number of experts focused on biological threats that the Obama administration had, but honed them in and focused them more and housed them in a more coherent structure and with a more senior leader.”

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