Trump is silent on the flu. Ebola? That was Obama's fault.

Olivier Knox
Chief Washington Correspondent
President Donald Trump listens during a meeting with lawmakers about trade policy in the Cabinet Room of the White House, Tuesday, Feb. 13, 2018, in Washington. (Photo: Evan Vucci/AP)

WASHINGTON — During the deadly 2014 Ebola outbreak in West Africa, Donald Trump tweeted around 50 times in October alone that the spread of the disease showcased President Barack Obama’s failings.

“Obama’s fault,” he said in one post. “Nothing works in our once great country anymore,” he fumed in another. He raged that Obama’s decision to send U.S. troops to Africa was “morally unfair.” He regularly denounced his predecessor’s refusal to impose a blanket ban on flights from the afflicted countries and mocked the official in charge of running the U.S. government response. He even managed swipes at Obama’s golfing and the botched rollout of the Affordable Care Act’s website.

Trump’s outspoken, grab-bag response to the Ebola outbreak that year — which infected 11 Americans and killed just two — stands in contrast to the president’s mute response this year to a severe flu epidemic.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said Friday that one out of 10 Americans who died last week succumbed to influenza or pneumonia (a common complication of the flu), a total of about 4,000. And 63 kids have died from influenza thus far this season, the agency says.

Acting CDC Director Anne Schuchat told reporters that the intensity of this flu season to this point matches that of the 2009 outbreak that sickened some 60.8 million people in the United States, sent 274,000 of them to the hospital and claimed 12,469 lives.

“I wish there was better news this week, but almost everything we’re looking at is bad news,” she told reporters on a conference call. “Over the next few weeks, we do expect it would make sense to see lots of pneumonia and influenza deaths.”

In response to the 2009 pandemic, the Obama administration requested emergency money to battle the illness. The former president signed a proclamation heralding “National Influenza Vaccination Week,” an effort to get more Americans to undergo a flu shot. There were public service announcement contests. Obama presented the government’s response on at least one occasion in his weekly address and signed an emergency declaration to combat the illness.

Although the CDC has  sounded the alarm in 2018, the Trump White House has not taken a public role. Yahoo News asked the White House whether the president planned to take an active role in warning Americans or urging them to take precautions. Officials did not respond by publication time.

To date, the only prominent mention there of influenza came in the report from Trump’s military doctor on the state of the president’s health, which noted that the real estate entrepreneur’s flu vaccine was up to date.


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