* Pennsylvania Democrats Thursday blasted Donald Trump ahead of his visit to an Upper Macungie Township distribution center, calling the move playing politics and a photo op ploy to seek re-election in a battleground state.
* [Rep.] Schweyer said there isn’t enough personal protective equipment for workers; and nurses and physicians are still risking their lives every day because there aren’t enough masks. “It’s a real shame that President Trump has chosen to come to Allentown, which is one of the hardest hit areas in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a photo op,” he said.
* “Our president … chose to put himself and his poll numbers and his prospects for re-election first,” [UFCW President] Young said. “His first soul of duty to this nation is to protect the American people — whether they’re Democrats, Republicans, from red areas, blue areas … that’s his responsibility and he failed at it. He failed at it miserably.”
By Pamela Sroka-Holzmann
May 14, 2020
Pennsylvania Democrats Thursday blasted Donald Trump ahead of his visit to an Upper Macungie Township distribution center, calling the move playing politics and a photo-op ploy to seek re-election in a battleground state.
A virtual news conference was called prior to Trump’s fly-in of Air Force One into Lehigh Valley International Airport in Hanover Township, Lehigh County. The panel included state Sen. Sharif Street (D-Philadelphia), the state Democratic Party’s vice chairman; Rep. Joanna McClinton (D-Delaware and Philadelphia counties), the state’s Democratic Caucus chairwoman; Rep. Peter Schweyer, a Democrat representing the 22nd district in Lehigh County; and Wendell Young, president of UFCW Local 1776 Keystone State.
Trump is touring the Owens & Minor distribution center in Upper Macungie Township. The distribution center supplies medical and surgical products for healthcare facilities, including personal protective equipment in the fight against the coronavirus. Trump is announcing federal government plans to award contracts to replenish and expand the Strategic National Stockpile of medical equipment and drugs, which has been depleted due to the coronavirus, federal officials said in advance of the president’s arrival.
To date, Schweyer said 2,050 residents of Allentown — the epicenter of Lehigh County — have tested positive for COVID-19. Dozens have perished in the city, he said. The most current data map shows a total of 45 deaths in Allentown from COVID-19.
“We are just now starting to see a flattening of the curve of the area,” Schweyer said. “Now is not the time to be pulling our first responders off the street, to follow and tail the President’s motorcade around this area, just simply so he gets a photo op that he thinks is going to help him, I don’t know, either with his ego or re-election. Regardless, this is just an absolute shame, it’s a waste of resources, and he’s putting more people in danger.”
Schweyer said there isn’t enough personal protective equipment for workers; and nurses and physicians are still risking their lives every day because there aren’t enough masks.
“It’s a real shame that President Trump has chosen to come to Allentown, which is one of the hardest hit areas in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania for a photo op,” he said.
Trump during a press conference Monday at the Rose Garden insisted his administration has “met the moment” and “prevailed” on coronavirus testing, according to the Associated Press. Shortage of coronavirus testing has long been a sore spot for the president, but he insisted anew that everyone who wants a test can get one.
Gov. Tom Wolf on March 19 ordered the shutdown of all non-essential businesses. A shelter-in-place order by Wolf, a Democrat, followed on March 25 for Northampton and Lehigh counties. Schweyer blasted Trump’s recent Twitter usage, saying the president was encouraging Pennsylvanians to not only break Wolf’s social distancing rules — putting everybody at risk — but also breaking law. The shutdown is saving lives, he said.
“That just is beyond unhelpful, it is actually hurtful to the folks here,” Schweyer said of Trump.
In a tweet by the president as he landed at the airport Thursday, Trump stated more than 5 million surgical and exam gloves have been provided to Pennsylvanians, as well as more than 600,000 eye and face shields; 22 million N-95, surgical and procedural masks, and 10 million isolation and surgical gowns.
Schweyer pointed to a Tuesday U.S. Senate hearing to support his assertions that Trump is ignoring public health officials who made it clear that things are worse than his administration is claiming. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, has repeatedly said reopening too early will lead to more deaths and more infections in are area, Schweyer said.
“The President is out there claiming victory some how some way but despite his promises and his rhetoric and his Tweet, we still do not have enough tests to safely reopen in Allentown, the Lehigh Valley, and Pennsylvania, and a large swath of the United States,” he said.
Street also expressed his dismay at the president’s arrival in the Lehigh Valley, saying Trump was putting his political interests ahead of the safety and welfare of state residents.
“He’s coming to rally people to push them to violate social distancing guidelines, to ignore his own health experts, and to rebel against the governor’s efforts to keep us all safe,” Street said. “It is irresponsible, and it is unfortunate that he continues to undermine good public safety guidelines.
“If Donald Trump wants to come here — what he should be talking about is supporting the Governor’s (Wolf) efforts … making resources available, not talking about recklessly opening the economy, which both his own economic experts have said a premature opening would be damaging to the economy and his medical experts have said that this could cause a loss of life,” Street said.
McClinton echoed she thought Trump shows far more interest in personal politics than the health and safety of families throughout Pennsylvania.
“He is still not taking the decisive actions that we need him to take to stop the spread of the virus,” she said. “He continues to ignore the guidance of medical experts and he still has not delivered on the promises to secure enough masks or enough tests. Our community … we need the testing, we need the masks, and when you see what’s happening at long-term care facilities, many of those deaths would be prevented if they had enough PPE (personal protective equipment) in their facilities.”
McClinton said pushing to reopen the country has already forced Trump’s administration to raise the estimated death toll from 60,000 deaths to 90,000 national deaths.
Young, the union president, said UFCW Local 1776 represents 35,000 statewide workers and nearly all are “essential”, including those employed at supermarkets, pharmacies, nursing homes, food processing plants, banking and benefit administration. To date, Local 1776 has 742 people who tested positive for COVID-19 and seven deaths, he said.
“I’m afraid both of those numbers are going to rise,” he said.
Young said while the union’s workers are considered essential, they are not “sacrificial.”
Trump nor his agencies have protected the safety of Young’s union workers with an enforceable directive, Young said. This includes the Occupational Safety and Health Administration and the Department of Labor, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which have issued voluntary guidance, but not a mandatory directive, he said.
A strategic testing program, which has shown success overseas, would help save more lives and prevent others from getting sick. It’s focus is identifying and mitigating hot spots immediately, Young said.
“Our president … chose to put himself and his poll numbers and his prospects for re-election first,” Young said. “His first soul of duty to this nation is to protect the American people — whether their Democrats, Republicans, from red areas, blue areas … that’s his responsibility and he failed at it. He failed at it miserably.”
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