Woodward Report Confirms Pence’s Pattern of Ignorance to Growing Health Crises

by HRC Staff

Post submitted by Lucas Acosta (he/him), former Deputy Director of Communications, Politics

While serving as Governor of Indiana, Pence exacerbated an HIV crisis in 2013 by slow-walking a public health response, flexing his far-right zeal for defunding HIV health care providers like Planned Parenthood, and wasting taxpayer funds. With more than 20 new cases diagnosed every week at the time, Pence failed Hoosiers who needed swift and strong action to combat the health crisis.

Now, Bob Woodward revealed that at the outset of the COVID-19 public health crisis, President Trump deliberately minimized the impact of the virus and global pandemic. Trump, and COVID-19 Taskforce Chair Pence, knew the virus was more deadly than the flu but intentionally misled the American public -- costing thousands of lives and ravaging our economy. This negligent behavior is a pattern: Pence is always willing to put politics over the health of his constituents.

As the problem grew, Pence ignored it and further exacerbated it by failing to act

Gregorio Millett, director of public policy at amfAR, the Foundation for AIDS Research, an advocacy and research group called Indiana’s HIV outbreak actions “entirely preventable.” (Politico, 08/07/2016)

Millet: Indiana taxpayers could have been saved millions of dollars for treating those affected by the HIV outbreak if effective prevention policies were already in place,” he said. (Politico, 08/07/2016)

“[Pence] was dragged kicking and screaming into signing the bill that we got passed,” said [Indiana] Rep. Patrick Bauer. (Politico, 08/07/2016)

Poz Magazine: “The new study estimated that if Pence’s government had initiated a response at the outset of 2013, the outbreak could have been limited to just 56 cases or fewer. Launching a response in April 2011 could have limited the outbreak to 10 cases or fewer.” (Poz Magazine, 09/13/2018)

Instead, Pence’s government caused an outbreak with 140 diagnosed cases in a city of 5,000 people. (NPR, 03/31/2016)

Even after the needle-exchange program got off the ground, Pence failed to give communities the resources they needed to implement it.

Stephenie Grimes, Madison County public health coordinator: “I feel like we still, even a year into it, are just scratching the surface of this community. Every day someone calls and asks about the program.”

Grimes: “[Other counties] simply don’t have the resources to put together a program, let alone the personnel to run it.”

In case you missed it, HRC President Alphonso David issued the following statement in response to the Woodward report yesterday:

“COVID-19 is responsible for the deaths of more than 190,000 individuals in the United States, forever changing their lives, their families, their communities and our nation. Even for the healthy, it has claimed millions of jobs and shuttered businesses that were thriving just months ago. Trump knowingly lied to the country by playing down this virus he knew was deadly. His lies have cost this country so much needless death and destruction, and the fact that he did so in order to make himself look better rather than serve the people is not only grossly inhumane but an abandonment of the oath he swore. He has deceived the nation and people have died because of it. LGBTQ people are bearing a disproportionate impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with higher unemployment numbers and loss of work hours than the general population. Trump is proving time and time again that he is unfit to lead this nation through the greatest set of challenges in modern history. His anti-LGBTQ record and failure to handle this crisis underscore our nation's need for new leadership, and we will be working hard to elect Joe Biden and other pro equality leaders in November."

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