Craig Fugate, the former head of the Federal Emergency Management Agency under President Obama, stormed off the set during an interview about the U.S.’s appropriate response to the coronavirus, saying “I don’t have time to listen to bulls—t, people.”
The interview on MSNBC appeared to be uneventful at first. Fugate, who served as the agency head for nearly eight years, said the country is misguided to think that the federal government should take the lead on the country’s response.
He said the federal government does not have the capacity to respond to the virus and the idea that a “single person” can take charge and defeat the virus is a myth.
“If we wait for the federal government, we’re too late,” he said.
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He said the federal government should be there to help states financially, but it will be state and local governments who are on the front lines and “each state is going to be addressing this unique to their systems.”
Andy Slavitt, the former acting administrator for the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services under Obama, responded to the coronavirus cases surging in New York City to 3,600 and said these figures will look minuscule in a week. He said Fugate’s comments were “not helpful.”
Fugate didn’t respond to the criticism and simply pulled his earpiece from his ear and said, “I don’t have time to listen to bullsh—t, people.”
Slavitt said that he is sure Fugate is well-intentioned but just disagreed with his argument.
The federal government’s response to the virus has been unprecedented and how the country responds could dramatically affect Trump’s 2020 prospects. He proposed a $1 trillion economic package and wants to send the public checks within the next few weeks.
The Associated Press reported that the Pentagon promised five million respirator masks and 2,000 ventilators to federal health authorities and some Democrats want Trump to invoke the Defense Production Act to increase production.
Newt Gingrich praised Trump for banning flights from China early on in the outbreak but wrote in Newsweek that the U.S. response needs to be huge.
“We should be planning for a worst-case pandemic and using the kind of intensity of implementation which served us so well in World War II. Getting enough ventilators, masks, intensive care units, treatment medications and aggressive community-wide testing are the minimum steps to saving lives and stopping the pandemic,” he wrote.