President Donald Trump, who doesn’t like the term “epidemic,” might have another case of reluctance to use the “N” word when talking about public health. Only this time, the White House isn’t dealing with an expanding pocketbook issue or the aftermath of a mass shooting. Trump, in a wide-ranging interview with the Daily Beast published Friday, took umbrage when asked about a severe respiratory illness that infected 40,000 Americans this year, and which the director of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has identified as a “superbug” that’s increasingly resistant to the antibiotic that’s its primary treatment. In what sounds like something of a rebuke of CDC director Brenda Fitzgerald, Trump said that he thinks Fitzgerald, like the American people, “can get the word out.”
“And I get the word out very well and very effectively,” Trump told the Daily Beast. “She loves her job and people respect her.” Fitzgerald, a former Trump campaign aide who assumed the role of the country’s top public health officer in October, was placed on administrative leave in early December, and her tenure has been complicated by a scandal over her family’s ownership of a resort for dialysis patients that’s located near a tuberculosis hospital. That move followed months of public criticism by health officials, who raised questions about whether Fitzgerald properly reported on the health risks at the property.
It seems she made no secret of the resort, and the CDC’s public health officials even sent her copies of classifying it as a site “at risk for transmission of human TB.” Asked whether that was her understanding as well, Trump replied: “It sounds like she’s not. I’ll find out and I will see,” pointing out that “nobody loves to take credit for everything.” (“Can you take credit for ending AIDS?” the Daily Beast reporter then pressed.) Trump also complained that pharmaceutical companies have skimped on research and development and bring in the most in royalties for their products. “I really don’t think it’s been done properly,” he said. “And that’s a fact.”
So, what else does the president have to say about a disease that more than a quarter of America’s population will experience during their lifetime, a disease that causes a steep rise in death rates for those most vulnerable? A battle against antimicrobial resistance, that’s what. After all, you don’t get “the word out” and “easy credit” for that.
Read the full story at The Daily Beast.
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