• Ipsos poll indicates 67% of Americans disapprove of President Trump's handling of the pandemic
  • Report from Senate Democrats indicates labs and state health officials don't know who to contact about supply issues
  • Trump is again threatening to withhold federal funding from school districts that don't fully reopen for the fall term

Nearly six months into the pandemic, with the daily increase in coronavirus cases topping a record 63,000 and deaths from COVID-19 climbing toward 135,000, the Trump administration has yet to formulate a cohesive national strategy and appeared to be trying to undercut the scientists working to understand the disease that has wrecked the economy.

The result has been governors left to devise individual strategies for their states, resulting in a mishmash of regulations that has allowed the pandemic to rage as some states opted to do relatively little to mitigate the spread. Labs and state health officials complain they don’t know whom to contact in the federal government about supply issues, or even who is in charge: the Department of Health and Human Services or the Federal Emergency Management Agency.

An ABC-Ipsos poll released Friday indicated 67% of Americans disapproved of President Trump’s handling of the pandemic.

In a report released Thursday, Democrats on the Senate Committee on Health, Education, Labor and Pensions, said it is plain the administration is ill-prepared to meet the nation’s pressing health and economic needs.

Trump has all but stopped mentioning the pandemic except to suggest a reduction in testing to reduce the number of confirmed cases – a plan that does nothing to contain the spread of the disease or reduce hospitalizations and deaths.

Despite the rising caseload, Trump still is pushing state and local governments to reopen their economies rapidly and demanding schools fully reopen for the fall semester, threatening to withhold federal funding from any districts that balk.

“Virtual Learning has proven to be TERRIBLE compared to In School, or On Campus, Learning. Not even close! Schools must be open in the Fall. If not open, why would the Federal Government give Funding? It won’t!!!,” Trump tweeted Friday.

He ordered the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on Wednesday to revamp its guidelines for school reopenings, calling the initial draft too strict and too expensive.

“CDC should be giving their best judgments on how to lower risks to make schools safer,” Tom Inglesby, director of Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Health Security, told the Washington Post. “That’s their job. If they aren’t allowed to do that, the public will lose confidence in the guidance.”

Paul Alexander, a senior adviser to a top official in the Department of Health and Human Services, lambasted the CDC for warning pregnant women about the risks from the coronavirus, saying it would scare them, the Post reported.

Dr. Anthony Fauci, head of the National Institutes of Allergies and Infectious Diseases and the nation’s top infectious disease expert, said in an interview Thursday the nation’s response to the pandemic has been hampered by political partisanship.

Since the outset, Trump has attempted to downplay the seriousness of the outbreak, initially comparing it to the flu and more recently refusing to wear a face mask in public, an action scientists have said helps stem spread of the virus. This week, he began the process of pulling the U.S. out of the World Health Organization, an action that could further stymie the fight against the pandemic as the flu season fast approaches.

The CDC, which stumbled early on rolling out coronavirus testing, has a storied history of fighting disease, including smallpox, malaria and HIV/AIDS. But the agency repeatedly in recent months has been forced to rework its best-practices guidelines and recommendations amid pressure from the White House.

Hospitals in the Sunbelt where cases are surging were reporting shortages of personal protective equipment, something that hamstrung other states early in the pandemic. In one Florida county, a third of coronavirus tests have come back positive, with hospitalizations in Miami-Dade County up 76% and ventilator use up 124% in the last 13 days.