By Robert A. Vella

Today, we’ll examine the whistleblower complaint filed by an ousted HHS official which asserts that the Trump administration suppressed scientific information about the coronavirus pandemic early on, pressured federal agencies to approve government contracts with medical suppliers having political connections to the President and his cronies, and then was retaliated against for opposing Trump’s promotion of a dubious drug treatment.  Yesterday, Trump announced he was disbanding his COVID-19 task force despite increasing outbreaks across the country, and then today he tried to backtrack his statements after intense criticism.  More evidence is emerging on the rising rate of infections and fatalities outside of New York (and other states which were hit first and quickly implemented effective countermeasures) with particular focus on Texas and Florida which moved irresponsibly towards reopening their economies.  Many meat processing plant workers in the nation’s heartland are staying home or are quitting their jobs because of unsafe conditions created by negligent employers and by Trump’s recent executive order in defiance of expert medical recommendations.

Lastly, I’d like to pose a question to anyone and particularly to Republican politicians who are prioritizing the illusion of economic prosperity over the reality of public health.  How much is a human life worth?  How many deaths are acceptable in the pursuit of money?  These aren’t rhetorical questions.  I expect honest and specific answers.  If you have lost $100,000 in income since the pandemic broke out, how many people would you sacrifice to get it back?  What if you have lost $1 million or even $1 billion?  How high are you willing to go?

Here we go:

From:  Virus Whistle-Blower Says Trump Administration Steered Contracts to Cronies [clarification by The Secular Jurist]

WASHINGTON — A federal scientist who says he was ousted from his job amid a dispute over an unproven coronavirus treatment pushed by President Trump said Tuesday that top administration officials repeatedly pressured him to steer millions of dollars in contracts to the clients of a well-connected consultant.

Rick Bright, who was director of the Department of Health and Human Services’ Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority until his removal in April, said in a formal whistle-blower complaint that he had been protesting “cronyism” and contract abuse since 2017.

Questionable contracts have gone to “companies with political connections to the administration,” the complaint said, including a drug company tied to a friend of Jared Kushner’s, President Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser. It said Dr. Bright was retaliated against by his superiors.

The 89-page complaint, filed with the Office of Special Counsel, which protects federal whistle-blowers, also said Dr. Bright “encountered opposition” from department superiors — including Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II — when he pushed as early as January for the necessary resources to develop drugs and vaccines to counter the emerging coronavirus pandemic.


Both allies and Dr. Bright say his nearly four-year tenure as the head of BARDA was marked by clashes with his superiors — especially Dr. Robert Kadlec, the assistant secretary of health for preparedness and response [who oversees the strategic national stockpile] — and tension with some industry executives. Dr. Bright conceded in the complaint that those clashes came to a head after he leaked information on the dispute over the malaria drug hydroxychloroquine to a reporter from Reuters.

Related story:  ‘Very difficult and emotional’: Pandemic expert leaves Trump administration

From:  White House plots breakup of coronavirus task force

The White House is planning to wind down its coronavirus task force in the coming weeks as it shifts focus to reopening the economy.

The move is a more formal recognition of a strategy that has been developing in recent weeks. President Donald Trump and his aides have been shifting their attention toward jolting the country’s finances and speeding up vaccine development — even as the virus continues to spread to new areas of the country and the overall caseload climbs. On Tuesday, Trump said the task force will be replaced by advisory groups of “a different form.”

Update:  Trump says coronavirus task force will keep working ‘indefinitely,’ with a focus on vaccines and reopening

From:  US infection rate rising outside New York as states open up

Take the New York metropolitan area’s progress against the coronavirus out of the equation and the numbers show the rest of the U.S. is moving in the wrong direction, with the known infection rate rising even as states move to lift their lockdowns, an Associated Press analysis found Tuesday.

New confirmed infections per day in the U.S. exceed 20,000, and deaths per day are well over 1,000, according to figures from Johns Hopkins University. And public health officials warn that the failure to flatten the curve and drive down the infection rate in places could lead to many more deaths — perhaps tens of thousands — as people are allowed to venture out and businesses reopen.

“Make no mistakes: This virus is still circulating in our community, perhaps even more now than in previous weeks” said Linda Ochs, director of the Health Department in Shawnee County, Kansas.

Elsewhere around the world, Britain’s official coronavirus death toll, at more than 29,000, topped that of Italy to become the highest in Europe and second-highest in the world behind the United States. The official number of dead worldwide surpassed a quarter-million, by Johns Hopkins’ count, though the true toll is believed to be much higher.

See also:  US is unprepared to protect residents from virus while states are reopening, former acting CDC director says

From:  Texas Gov. Admits Dangers of Reopening State on Private Call With Lawmakers

During a private call on Friday, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott admitted that “every scientific and medical report shows” state reopenings “ipso facto” lead to an increase in novel coronavirus cases, even as he publicly announced plans that same week to end an executive stay-at-home order in the state.

“How do we know reopening businesses won’t result in faster spread of more cases of COVID-19?” Abbott asked during a Friday afternoon phone call with members of the state legislature and Congress. “Listen, the fact of the matter is pretty much every scientific and medical report shows that whenever you have a reopening—whether you want to call it a reopening of businesses or of just a reopening of society—in the aftermath of something like this, it actually will lead to an increase and spread. It’s almost ipso facto.”

“The more that you have people out there, the greater the possibility is for transmission,” Abbott said on the call, which a spokesperson confirmed was authentic on Tuesday. “The goal never has been to get transmission down to zero.”

Related stories:

Texas Sees Highest Single Day Jumps in COVID-19 Cases Since Outbreak Began

Coronavirus in Florida latest: Record daily death toll, outbreaks at local nursing homes

From:  US meat workers are quitting as virus-ridden plants reopen

(Bloomberg) — America’s meat-processing plants are starting to reopen, but not all workers are showing up. Some still fear they’ll get sick after coronavirus outbreaks shut more than a dozen facilities last month. Employees are taking leave, paid and unpaid — or just quitting.


Meat plants have been at the nexus of coronavirus hot spots across America’s rural heartland. The disease spread through plants in March and April as companies struggled to adapt their workplaces to new rules dictated by the pandemic. As absenteeism persists, the U.S. is at risk of continued meat shortages and higher prices, even after President Donald Trump signed an executive order to keep plants running.

Related story:  Nearly 150 federal meat inspectors diagnosed with coronavirus, 3 dead: report


Layoffs Start Turning From Temporary to Permanent Across America

States cut Medicaid as millions of jobless workers look to safety net

Trump tours, touts mask factory — but no mask for him

Instead of releasing detainees, ICE is transferring them to other detention centers

Researcher ‘on verge of very significant’ coronavirus findings shot to death

Judge asks for investigation of McConnell’s role in creating federal bench vacancy

State-backed hackers behind wave of cyberattacks targeting coronavirus response, US and UK warn

11 thoughts on “Whistleblower exposes Trump’s corruption of U.S. pandemic response, and the value of a human life

  1. “How much is a human life worth?” You have only to look at the numbers of people in developing countries worldwide who have died over the decades to feed the insatiable capitalist corporate beast.

    Liked by 5 people

  2. …with particular focus on Texas and Florida which moved irresponsibly towards reopening their economies.

    Yeah, I think bigger-than-biggest Texas personalities here in GOP politics and positions take fond heed to the same personalities (such as Jerry Jones) that boast “Negative publicity over my bogus statements are better than no publicity at all.

    I don’t have to share the facts, tables, and graphs Robert—cuz they can be easily found from the real experts in virology and epidemiology—regarding how horribly ridiculous our new COVID-19 cases/infections are STILL on a sharp incline across Texas, and damn sure alarming in Harris County (Houston) and Dallas County. For the 3rd or 4th straight day Texas has had OVER 1,000 new cases/infections! In Dallas County the exact same trend has been happening. New infections are nowhere near slowing or flattening! Period. Fact!

    And yet we have a specific demographic of the population who continually protest to our more safe-conscious officials to either ease up more the current ‘gradual reopening’ of business-as-usual, OR the complete abandonment of all restrictions/orders by the more radical Right. The sheer stupidity and/or ignorance is mind-boggling. And Robert, during those rare times that I MUST go out into public—I try hard not to—though I am wearing my gloves and my N95 mask and bring along my spray-bottle of disinfectant with disposable rag, I must sometime struggle to keep my 6-foot-plus distance from total strangers, some of them not wearing a damn thing other than their normal clothes! There have been a few times where I’ve had to turn around (do a 180) because the walkway/path is too narrow to stay 6+ feet away! Last week I was at my ATM inside a CVS Pharmacy store and some man (worker? unsure) was behind me, wearing a mask fortunately, I assume to use the ATM when I finished, and there was so much EFFING product stacked up/out into the walkways that I could not have even stayed 4-5 ft away! I politely pointed to the path & him that I wanted to get by him, but it was impossible for me to do so. Only he could’ve moved back out into an open area of the store so that we could pass 6-8 feet apart.

    He stood there silent looking at me and did not budge one bit. I stood there waiting on him for another 3-4 seconds before I realized that on the other side of the stacked & shrink-wrapped boxes of water bottles above our waists, there was a 1.5 or 2-foot gap between the front windows of the store and the stacks of water. So I backed up, squeezed thru, and safely went out the front sliding doors… shaking my head in disbelief!!! You ask…

    How much is a human life worth?

    I know with certainty here in Texas and Dallas that there are indeed people that really have an exact dollar amount (to the cent?) they would put on peoples heads no matter what their age. I wonder if that amount varies any when it comes to their own children, parent, or sibling? 😖🤦‍♂️

    Liked by 2 people

    • I wonder about that too, Professor. What a stressful experience you had, and what an effed-up situation in Texas! I feel grateful that I live in Washington state. Things are much calmer up here now.

      Liked by 1 person

        • Although I only have a small one bedroom apartment, I’d be happy to help you relocate to The Evergreen State. You’ll have to adjust to weeks and months without sunshine and a whole lot of rain, however – lol! 🙂

          Liked by 3 people

        • Oh geezzz! Shouldn’t it be called The Sunless Evergreen State? But then again, with unwavering Climate Change Texas sees 2-3 months of 90°+ to 100°+ temperatures in Summer time, August having the most days/weeks! I guess that would be a pleasant change, huh? Lol 😉

          Liked by 1 person

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