House Speaker Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) assailed the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic in a letter to Democratic colleagues on Tuesday, saying the American people must instead “insist and act on the truth” as the nation reels from the ongoing crisis.
“This is an unbearably sad time with all Americans sharing the same devastating experience: we are grieving for those who have died from the coronavirus, we are fearful for our health and especially the health of our loved ones and we are heartbroken for our children who are unable to be in school and with their friends,” Pelosi wrote in a “Dear Colleague” letter. “We will overcome this moment, but success requires one fundamental from which all actions will follow: we need the truth. To succeed in this crisis, we must insist on the truth, and we must act upon it!”
The lawmaker’s comments come as cases of COVID-19 continue to spread around the nation. More than 600,000 people have been infected with the virus and more than 24,400 have died. New York City revised its own estimates this week, saying more than 10,000 of those fatalities were among its residents.
At the same time, President Donald Trump has grown increasingly aggressive in his response to the pandemic, casting blame on governors, reporters and international health officials rather than what critics have said was a slow national response as cases of the coronavirus first appeared in the U.S. On Tuesday he said he planned to temporarily halt funding to the World Health Organization over its handling of the pandemic, saying he felt the agency had “failed in its basic duty” and “must be held accountable.”
Pelosi rejected the president’s efforts to deflect responsibility on Tuesday, noting that despite cries from health officials who have struggled to obtain testing materials and personal protective equipment, many of those pleas have gone unanswered.
“The truth is that in January, Donald Trump was warned about this pandemic, ignored those warnings, took insufficient action and caused unnecessary death and disaster,” she wrote, later stating: “The truth is a weak person, a poor leader, takes no responsibility. A weak person blames others.”
The speaker continued to say she was confident America would elevate “competent and honest leaders” who were “fully capable of making the right choices,” a nod to a network of governors who have leveraged the power of their states to keep people indoors and tamp down the spread of the virus. But Pelosi warned that without aggressive action to support the nation’s health professionals and heed science, “more lives will be lost.”
“If we are not working from the truth … economic hardship and suffering will be extended unnecessarily and our children will not be safe, happy and learning,” Pelosi warned. “Our future will be healthy and prosperous if we no longer tolerate lies and deceit. We must recognize the truth, we must speak the truth, we must insist on the truth and we must and will act upon it.”
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