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ICYMI: While Trump Tragically Mismanages the COVID-19 Pandemic, Governors Pick Up the Slack

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, April 13, 2020
CONTACT: Planned Parenthood Votes Media Office; 212-261-4433; [email protected]
Planned Parenthood Votes Pressroom

Washington, DC While each day brings new examples of the grave consequences of Trump’s failure to adequately respond to the COVID-19 pandemic — instead repeatedly downplaying its seriousness, failing to supply large-scale testing, and engaging in name-calling against governors and reporters who he perceives as critical — our country’s health care champion governors are picking up the slack.

From Kentucky to New Mexico and California to North Carolina, governors have taken early, decisive action to procure critical medical supplies for their states and protect and expand their constituents' access to health care. These governors pose a stark contrast to governors in states like Texas and Oklahoma, who have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to try to ban abortion through executive orders, forcing clinics to turn away hundreds of patients.

Here's what you need to know:

For years, Donald Trump and his political allies in Congress have gutted our public health infrastructure, and it becomes clearer every day that their attacks have put the safety of Americans at risk as the COVID-19 pandemic — which hits low-income communities and people of color the hardest, and poses a massively disproportionate risk to the health of Black Americans — threatens to overwhelm our health care system.

Trump dished out personal protective equipment to his allies in Congress and the states as political favors — but refused to fill requests from Democratic governors.

  • Despite Gov. Jared Polis' (D-CO) early and continued requests for 10,000 ventilators from the federal government, no equipment came until Sen. Cory Gardner (R-CO) made a personal phone call to the president — prompting a Colorado congresswoman to fear that, as described by CNN, "the President appears to be doling out the ventilators to his allies at a time when the virus is affecting people of all political persuasions."
  • After Gov. Gretchen Whitmer (D-MI) wrote a 25-page letter to Trump requesting he approve a major disaster declaration for Michigan, Trump tweeted that she was "inept" and, per The Intercept, suggested "Whitmer’s comments could affect whether he declares a state of emergency in Michigan."

Meanwhile, the Washington Post issued a blistering editorial about how "foot-dragging GOP governors are imperiling the whole country."

  • Gov. Greg Abbott (R-TX) — joined by governors in other states — is exploiting the COVID-19 pandemic to try to ban abortion through executive orders, forcing clinics to turn away hundreds of patients, many of whom have no options, while others travel hundreds of miles across state lines during a public health emergency.
  • After his refusal to take action and botched response to the COVID-19 outbreak, Gov. Mike Parson’s (R-MO) approval rating ranks 49th out of 50 governors.
  • Also tied for second-to-last in governors' approval ratings is Gov. Ron DeSantis (R-FL), who refused to issue a shelter in place order and put the lives of Floridians at risk. A local official called his coronavirus response "weak and spineless."
  • Despite broad consensus that Trump tragically mismanaged the pandemic from the beginning, Gov. Chris Sununu (R-NH) defended Trump, claiming, “I don’t think he’s made things difficult."

Despite a botched federal response to COVID-19 and Trump's refusal to act, many governors have been working nonstop to deliver for their states and save lives. We're grateful to the health care champions who are committed to protecting their constituents. There is still a long way to go to protect all people, particularly those most at risk, like Black Americans who have faced disproportionately high rates of hospitalization and death caused by COVID-19:

  • Gov. Gavin Newsom (D-CA) saved lives by taking early action. California was the first state to implement statewide social distancing measures that flattened the curve in the highly-populated state.
  • Gov. Michelle Lujan Grisham (D-NM) announced that certain New Mexico residents without symptoms can get tested for COVID-19, which Talking Points Memo described as "a testament to how quickly the state was able to scale up its testing."
  • Gov. Roy Cooper (D-NC) has a record-high approval rating following his strong, steady leadership during the COVID-19 outbreak. He declared a state of emergency on March 10th to better access supplies needed for health care workers.
  • Gov. Andy Beshear (D-KY) conducts daily "Afternoons with Andy" briefings so Kentuckians can hear directly from him about his actions to support families and slow the spread of COVID-19 in the state. He declared a state of emergency when Kentucky confirmed its first case, moving more quickly than even some states on the east coast.
  • In stark contrast with Trump's inaction, we are looking to these governors to address the racial inequities that have recently come to light with the same urgency, equity, and expertise, because they care about all of their constituents' health and lives.

And in contrast to the governors and state officials who have exploited the COVID-19 pandemic to try to ban abortion access in their states, we applaud the governors who have protected reproductive health care as essential care:

  • Gov. J.B. Pritzker (D-IL) specified that reproductive health care providers were protected as "essential health services" in his executive order.
  • Gov. Phil Murphy’s (D-NJ) executive order ending elective medical procedures specifically exempted family planning services, including abortion. Murphy's order states: “The order provides that it shall not be interpreted in any way to limit access to family planning services, including termination of pregnancies."


Planned Parenthood Votes is an independent expenditure political committee registered with the Federal Election Commission.