Oregon’s governor accuses Trump administration of massive “deception” about coronavirus vaccine

Oregon’s governor accuses Trump administration of massive “deception” about coronavirus vaccine
Gov. Kate Brown talks with members of the media to preview legislation for the upcoming session at the Capitol Building, in Salem, Ore., on Tuesday, Jan. 26, 2016. Photo: AP Photo/Timothy J. Gonzalez

Oregon Governor Kate Brown (D) has accused the Trump administration of deceiving state officials across the country after she learned that the federal government does not have a reserved amount of coronavirus vaccines.

Brown, who is bisexual, took to Twitter today to call out the “disturbing” turn of events, as Trump prepares to leave office in five days.

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“Last night, I received disturbing news, confirmed to me directly by General Perna of Operation Warp Speed,” she said, citing Gustave F. Perna, the chief operating officer of the United States’ coronavirus vaccine efforts. “States will not be receiving increased shipments of vaccines from the national stockpile next week, because there is no federal reserve of doses.”

“I am demanding answers from the Trump Administration,” Brown tweeted next. “I am shocked and appalled that they have set an expectation on which they could not deliver, with such grave consequences.”

“This is a deception on a national scale,” she alleged. “Oregon’s seniors, teachers, all of us, were depending on the promise of Oregon’s share of the federal reserve of vaccines being released to us.”

Washington state Governor Jay Inslee (D) also shared Brown’s criticisms of the situation.

“Governors were told repeatedly…[that] there was a strategic reserve of vaccines,” Inslee tweeted, “and this week, the American people were told it’d be released to increase supply of vaccine.

“It appears now that no reserve exists,” he stated. “The Trump admin. must answer immediately for this deception.”

Gov. Inslee also placed blame on the Health & Human Services (HHS), administrated by Trump-appointed secretary Alex Azar, for their mishandling of the vaccine roll out.

The current vaccine in wide use, produced by Pfizer and BioNTech, is delivered in multiple doses, 21 days apart. Oregon’s Health Authority announced yesterday that vaccination administrators met Brown’s set goal of providing a total of 12,000 coronavirus vaccine doses in one day.

Still, “the state can’t achieve our goal to deliver vaccinations quickly, efficiently and equitably, all on our own,” Health Authority director Patrick Allen stated. Allen, who was on the same phone call that Brown had with Gen. Perna, has written Azar in an attempt to gather more information from the Trump administration.

Allen cites Azar’s statement from January 12 in which he told officials that the federal government was “releasing the entire supply we have for order by states, rather than holding second doses in physical reserve.” That meant that states would have to ration and reserve doses themselves to ensure no one misses their second dose.

Allen notes in the letter that “we were encouraged by your assurances that production is accelerating at a rate sufficient to meet future demand,” but based on the news from their phone call with Gen. Perna, that has not become the case.

“This is extremely disturbing, and puts our plans to expand eligibility at grave risk,” Allen complained in the letter, adding that “if this information is accurate, we will be unable to begin vaccinating our vulnerable seniors on Jan. 23 as planned.”

Allen asked in the letter, also sent to Oregon’s U.S. Congress delegation and the director of the Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), for Azar to “please reconcile your statement Tuesday, which we relied on to announce an expansion of vaccination eligibility.”

Several lawmakers from Oregon have already responded. Sen. Ron Wyden (D-OR) said that the news is “completely unacceptable,” while Sen. Jeff Merkley (D-OR) and Rep. Kurt Schraeder (D-OR) called for Azar and Perna to answer “immediately” for the discrepancy. Rep. Peter DeFazio (D-OR) said this was another “shameful and dangerous lie from the Trump administration.”

All seniors over the age of 65 became eligible to receive the vaccine just this week. Healthcare workers, first responders, those with certain disabilities, and other certain high-risk patients were already eligible. Other seniors, child care providers, educators, and school staff are scheduled to become eligible on January 23.

The Beaver State is already fighting an upward battle in containing the still lethal virus: Oregon has administered 146,137 first and second doses of COVID-19 vaccines altogether. Just Thursday, 1,152 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 29 additional deaths were announced.

Brown and Oregon were among many governments criticized for the erratic, “slow” rollout of vaccines. One report stated that there possibly were up to 200,000 unused doses in the state. The National Guard has been activated by Brown to assist in ensuring the delivery and that administration is orderly within the state.

Now, based on Brown’s assertion, some of that blame may rest in the hands of those in charge of Operation Warp Speed — all the way up to outgoing President Donald Trump.

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