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How in marketing do you make your customer the hero of your story?
Imagine living in the 1800s. Besides (or perhaps because of) the obvious lack of modern technologies and medicines, the average life expectancy was just 40 years. I’d most likely be dust in the wind.Despite increases in global life expectancy over the last two centuries, as a global population, we’re now more overweight, more obese and more likely to suffer from chronic health conditions than at any other time in history. For some, Covid-19 has created a lightning rod for change. Specifically, it has systematically transformed healthcare, changing everything from professional care to self-care. Record-breaking investments in health and wellness, specifically in digital health, underscore the importance of, and support for, this transformation.My belief is that nutrition, fitness and preventative care create a trifecta for maintaining health and wellness. One approach to create awareness of all three is through storytelling, rather than lecturing (which doesn’t work). People open their minds and listen to stories with their hearts, making a personal connection to the message. I know I have.Some years ago, as I walked onto a platform and looked at the 585-lb. loaded barbell on the floor in front of me, I replayed a highlight reel of the 13 years of grueling workouts it took for me to get there. I didn’t see the crowd in the stands, or the judges all around me. All I saw was the barbell. With more weight on it than I’d ever lifted. I needed this lift to beat my opponent and break the California state record for my weight class. I took a deep breath, walked up to the bar, and pulled with everything I had. The bar slowed as it passed my knees, but then shot up for a full lockout. A good lift. I won. I earned the record. And it all ended in 15 seconds.I’m not an Olympian or a professional athlete, but because of all that training, nutrition and fitness are a way of life for me. They come naturally, like breathing. And it all started with the story of a kid getting picked on in school for being “husky,” the old euphemism for being overweight. That kid was me, but the story could be about millions of others. I’m constantly asking myself how I can inspire others to find their own story of triumph. After many phone interviews with leading executives at health and wellness brands, I found some surprising answers.A prescription for storytellingWhen I think about storytelling, I used to think about Hansel and Gretel, Goldilocks, and other nursery rhymes that Mom read to me at bedtime. But storytelling is more than fairy tales and bedtime stories. It’s the oldest form of human communication, dating back to sitting around the fire at night and paintings on cave walls. Behind every painting or symbol is a story. Storytelling connects with people on a deeper, inspirational level. It can transcend the product. It can be the very foundation for building a brand.Ruslan Tovbulatov, former Chief Marketing Officer at Thrive Global, has a powerful perspective. "How do we get people to introduce mindfulness or take a few more steps each day? The way we actually move and change their habits is through stories." Tovbulatov tells us that storytelling moves people to action, which is why it’s at the heart of what he does at Thrive Global.Story is a powerful motivator because it connects us with our memories, evokes emotions, and even stimulates physiological changes.Peter McGraw, author of Shtick to Business, says, "Memory is built on associations. Whether exercising daily or smoking two packs a day, the unconscious mind has learned associations that have become automatic. To build a habit, you are essentially creating a new set of associations — weaving your own mental web." Using storytelling as a means to create new memories and associations helps people build new habits, like taking a few more steps each day. Eventually, those habits become routine, and over time, they can become rituals.Anne-Laure Le Cunff, founder of Ness Labs, and prolific writer about mindful productivity, defines the difference between habits and routines. "Habits happen with little or no conscious thought; routines require a higher degree of intention and effort. The difference between a routine and a ritual is the attitude behind the action. While routines can be actions that just need to be done—such as making your bed or taking a shower—rituals are viewed as more meaningful practices which have a real sense of purpose." Everyone has their own habits, routines and rituals. Like making your bed, brewing coffee, going to weekly worship, sports — work, the list goes on.Surprisingly, research has shown that nearly half of all behaviour is habitual. An experiment summarized in the book, The Choice Factory, described "two psychologists, Jeffrey Quinn and Wendy Wood, from Duke University, [who] gave 279 undergraduates watches programmed to buzz at set times. Whenever the alert was triggered, the students recorded, in detail, their actions at that moment. What they found was that across a range of areas from exercising to travelling, from eating to socializing, a full 45% of behaviours were habitual — the same decisions being made at the same time and place without full conscious thought." How can brands and marketing build on this tendency?Steve Schwartz, CEO of The Art of Tea, says that ritual is a big part of his customers’ experience. During my interview with Schwartz, he asked me how I make tea. I was a bit embarrassed, because I know there’s an art to making tea. A methodical process, which is the exact opposite of my approach. Nonetheless, I explained what I do. On Sundays, I start by boiling 64 ounces of water. Once it starts boiling, I pour some into a ceramic teapot with loose leaf herbal tea. I use Alexa and set the timer to three minutes. Then, I pour the steeped tea into a 64-ounce growler. I let the growler cool down on the counter for a few hours before I put it in the fridge. (Sidenote: If there’s anyone else who drinks tea from a growler, please, let’s connect.) What he helped me realize is that this is indeed a routine. Perhaps close to becoming a ritual.Thinking about how customers use your product or service and how it incorporates into their lives will help you define a ritualization process. The key to that process lies with your current customers. Launch an interview program to collect personal stories that will help you deeply understand and empathise with your customers. Then, build on their experiences to tell stories about how your product or service changes people’s lives for the better.Put simply, storytelling is about communicating a message to your audience — whether it be written, spoken, video or audio. When you know how to craft your story, it will help you move your brand forward to greater recognition, higher sales and better outcomes for both you and your customers. Storytelling takes what people already know and brings them in to engage them and evoke memory and emotion. It helps people make sense of events, actions and aspirations, while helping them interpret your reality and create context for their own experiences with your brand.Make your customer the hero of your storyMany brands position themselves as the hero in the story. But they’re not the heroes: their customers are. Customers won’t care about how great your product or service is until they know how it helps them. “Creating a relationship with your customers starts with making your customers the hero of your story,” says Lori Raygoza, vice president of Ecommerce at Performance Health. Raygoza recommended that a brand’s marketing message should be clear and speak directly to the customer's needs.Zoe Wilson, Digital Marketing Manager at Betr Health, is largely devoted to creating compelling content. She works directly with clients to elicit case studies, stories and anecdotes to pay homage to their achievements and to inspire other members. One such story was about a client who was retiring and was diagnosed with cancer. The medicine she was taking was making her gain weight, which eventually brought on high blood pressure and cholesterol. From there, she spiraled into a depression. After starting her customized Betr Health program, she lost 35 lbs, restored her confidence, became much more energized and got back on her bike. She eventually stopped taking medication for depression. That’s the kind of story any company can be proud to share, and any patient will be able to relate to.Since users’ experiences with a business affect whether or not they return or refer others to you, your business is already directly invested in those experiences. Ruslan Tovbulatov, former chief marketing officer at Thrive Global, says, “It's not some kind of productivity or efficiency game. It's about the transformations we're making in individual lives." He cites one example: a series of 7- and 21-day Thrive well-being experiences they hosted for Walmart employees. Walmart learned that 97% of participants are now taking more time to manage their own stress, build resilience and help others do the same. Over 230,000 inspirational success stories came in from Walmart employees around the world. That’s a lot of positive habit building — and it generated a tremendous amount of first-hand, customer-centric marketing material.GE Healthcare Digital follows the same two-way benefit strategy. Lynn Eversgerd, chief marketing officer of Global Partners Consulting & Command Centers, told us that she and her team paved the way to create opportunities for GE Healthcare customers to tell their own stories. “We are fortunate that we have earned our customers’ trust as partners. When our technologies and solutions help our customers achieve an outcome, it’s their outcome that we celebrate,” she says. Eversgerd and her team develop stories about their clients’ experiences with GE medical technology in which they position their clients as the heroes. In return, she notes, "Our customers are ultimately telling the brand story for us."For these executives and their brands, the personal relationship between the business and its customers transcends the profit motive. Instead of focusing on profits, their businesses focus on helping customers make positive changes in their lives. Eversgerd wrapped up by saying, "If you don't collaborate with customers to jointly tell the story of how together you make a bigger impact, you're missing out on an opportunity for both sides."Make the customer the hero of all your contentMany brands struggle with making the leap from profit to impact. One requirement, beyond mindset and willingness, is to build trust with customers. Brands that seek to educate, empower, and enable their customers provide more than products and services: they also provide know-how through resources that educate and inspire. Ron Ribitzky, founder & CEO at R&D Ribitzky, and co-founder of Alliance Tech, explains that it’s important to establish yourself as a credible source, or, as he says, “How do we figure out who is a qualified player and who is just making noise?"To discover what kinds of resources would be most valuable to its customers, GE’s Lynn Eversgerd says, "When I think about the audience which I want to directly engage, my goal is to provide them with not only relevant and meaningful content, but a unique perspective that is differentiated from all the other noise in the marketplace. To do so requires the passion to learn everything we can about our individual customers, as well as their organizations, so that we can speak directly to their pain points. This includes everything from having frequent genuine conversations, to understanding their own target audience (physicians, boards, donors, communities and patients), to following daily news about their individual organizations. It goes back to the whole idea of being completely customer-centric and customer-focused.”Make the customer the hero of your communications programsWorking through stories also drives healthtech brands to be entirely customer- or patient-centric. Here we’re drilling deeper on content and how to deploy it.Content and stories need to be short. "My job is to entertain the audience," says Rob Wilson, sales & marketing manager at GameTime. “A lot of content is far too long. It really should get straight to the point.” Content should also provide details about the process, guide your audience through the necessary steps to the outcome: “You can't get to the goal without the process." When it comes to technology, he thinks there are better ways than long-form media to provide value: use social media marketing to deliver short content posts that give the reader immense value on LinkedIn and Facebook in minutes. Finally, he underscored how much work these campaigns take. It’s serious business.Ribitzky has some advice on how to improve digital communication and operate more effectively in the virtual world. He says, "Think about relevance and ask yourself, ‘don't we need to change the ways we use technology to help us provide information?’" He goes on to say that the likelihood a brand’s audience will read 100 pages of anything he writes is virtually zero. That content needs to be written in a way that will be relevant to them and respectful of their time. He says, "It's all about knowing the audience and packaging content as a tool, so that they will be able to consume it very quickly." He continued, "The days of publishing a five-page or eight-page whitepaper as a PDF and linking it are over." While professional people still read whitepapers, books, and reports, your customers don’t. But in any medium, the content still has to be compelling.Simone Grapini-Goodman, MBA and Chief Marketing Officer at DiRx Health, uses a range of ethnographic and quantitative research techniques to understand their audiences. "Using design thinking principles and personas, we’ve broken down our customer cohorts into three main categories, and outlined their hierarchies of needs." She says it was a challenge to present a single online experience that deeply connected to all three audiences. “Each audience has a slightly different lens, so we strive to build a frictionless experience based on what people want, what technology can deliver, and what is financially feasible.”Former Head of Data at Curology, Anna E. Shen, has a different solution for the problem of creating customized experiences for different audiences. "We target numerous audiences over our marketing channels and have dozens of unique landing pages for each one to allow us to maximize our SEO and ad relevance/quality score." She tells us that they start with quantitative research — clustering and "typing" of the customer relationship management (CRM) — to first identify the personas they’re investigating. After that, Shen and her team conduct rigorous research, including focus groups and interviews, to sample each persona so they can understand their customers in depth.When developing new healthcare technologies, which many businesses are now doing, it’s important to pull away from the technology and look at the experience from the patient’s point of view: to become totally customer-centric.Dr. John Reeves MD is CEO at conversationHEALTH, which is transforming the way pharmaceutical companies communicate with patients and healthcare professionals. 25 years of experience as a primary care physician helps him deliver a perfect product-market fit for his pharmaceutical clients. One thing he learned working as a physician is that patients don’t know how to be great patients. The stress of the doctor’s office and the possibility of a negative prognosis, makes it hard for them to take in important information about their condition and treatment. This insight inspired him to found a company to teach patients outside the office visit. Sending messages through texts, websites, voice devices and other channels lets patients learn more in the hopefully more relaxed atmosphere of home. The technology works in conjunction with the doctor to inform and educate the patient, at their own speed and in their preferred channel. That’s meeting patients where they’re at.Meeting people where they are is exactly what Sandra Sellani, vice president of Marketing at Discovery Behavioral Health, does when applying empathy to deeply understand its patients’ needs. "We start by talking to the people who are referring patients to us — their therapists. We ask them about the patient’s needs and develop an individualized treatment plan for each patient when they are admitted to the program.” She told us that they also listen to people in their call center to get a good sense of callers’ needs. They talk to program directors and facility staff, and gather the most meaningful feedback from patients about their experiences during treatment — what did they like? What could be improved? They even stay in touch with their alumni through a customized app to keep the dialog open and collect even more feedback. The app is also a virtual community where people can share their stories and encourage one another, and it creates an opportunity to support their recovery through content, communication, and connection.Donna Cusano, former marketing and communications director at WellCare's Collaborative Health Systems and now principal of Allegro Marketing & Communications, agrees that health care could use media and technology in better ways. "Many medical practices are extremely challenged with implementing technology to manage population health and using telehealth and remote patient monitoring to stay in touch with their patients." She told me that older patients may be afraid to go to the office in person now, but they also have issues with using technology and having the right connectivity to reach their doctors in a virtual visit. “Communication channels need to meet patients where they are, on a level where they're comfortable, and at convenient times. It’s not always on social media or a smartphone."Deven Nongbri, associate vice president of marketing at HCA Healthcare, corroborated the challenges of content marketing, available technology, and having to be on multiple platforms to connect with an audience. "Social media listening becomes challenging because of the need to keep track of who's starting what conversations and what they're saying," he says. He added that there’s no simple answer, or single platform, that solves all these problems.In digital health, it’s especially important to establish a voice for the user, says Carlo Rich, digital health management consultant, digital health office of Baylor Scott & White Health. He said, "you need to make sure everyone is coming along on the same journey, that the patient is represented and has a voice." He said, "When you live and breathe your technology every day, sometimes what you say about it isn’t easy for others to understand." This is the dreaded curse of knowledge.Perhaps that’s why the stories and product offerings you develop through empathetic research are so powerful. They provide vivid pictures and relevant solutions instead of complicated jargon and feature-heavy, relevance-light technologies.
Is it really fair to play the role of Monday morning quarterback and blame President Trump for the rapid spread of COVID-19 in the US? Would it have been any different under and other recent President?
Everything in modern life gets reviewed after the fact.Whether or not the review is fair depends on if you review the actual facts.Destroying the Lie that President Trump did Nothing as Coronavirus SpreadBy Dan O'DonnellMar 26, 2020Democrats and their allies in the media have tried desperately to convince Americans that the Trump Administration ignored the threat of COVID-19 in January and February and did nothing to stop the spread. In fact, the exact opposite is true.Almost immediately after learning of the potential threat of a novel coronavirus detected in Wuhan, China, the Administration took near-daily action to protect Americans from it.More than a month after the Chinese government likely learned of the new virus in Wuhan, it first informed the World Health Organization (WHO) that there was an outbreak on December 31st, 2019.Even though the Chinese offered the WHO assurances that the disease had not spread from person to person--which was almost certainly a lie--on December 31st, Taiwan raised concerns with the organization that it had found evidence of human-to-human transmission.The following day--New Year's Day, 2020--Chinese health officials closed the Huanan Seafood Wholesale Market in Wuhan and ban all sales of live animals.Within a week, on January 6th, the Trump Administration first started raising concerns over the virus as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a travel notice for Wuhan."Illness with this virus has ranged from mild to severe," the CDC's website read. "Signs and symptoms of infection include fever, cough, and trouble breathing. This new coronavirus has caused severe disease and death in patients who developed pneumonia. Risk factors for severe illness are not yet clear, although older adults and people of any age with serious chronic medical conditions are at higher risk for severe illness."The next day, the CDC set up its coronavirus incident management system in an effort to follow the spread of the disease across Wuhan and share information with Americans who might have to travel to the region.Four days later, on January 11th, the CDC upped its warning about Wuhan to a Level I travel health notice, urging Americans to "practice enhanced precautions" against a virus about which it was growing increasingly concerned.At the same time, however, the WHO was downplaying the threat that coronavirus posed. Based solely on inaccurate information from the Chinese government, the WHO on January 14th tweeted that it had seen “no clear evidence of human-to-human transmission of the novel coronavirus.”Even though it had received a warning from Taiwan two weeks earlier that there was evidence of human-to-human transmission, and even though Thailand reported the first case of the virus outside of China on the 14th--all but proving human-to-human transmission--the WHO spread Chinese disinformation anyway.The CDC, fortunately, wasn't nearly as naive and started screening passengers entering the United States from Wuhan at international airports in New York City, Los Angeles, and San Francisco on January 17th.Three days later, the National Institutes of Health (NIH) that several teams of doctors were already working on a potential coronavirus vaccine."The NIH is in the process of taking the first steps towards the development of a vaccine," NIH director Dr. Anthony Fauci told CNN, which further reported that:A team of scientists in Texas, New York and China are also at work on a vaccine, according to Dr. Peter Hotez, a vaccine scientist at Baylor College of Medicine in Houston."The lesson we've learned is coronavirus infections are serious and one of the newest and biggest global health threats," Hotez said.He added that it's less challenging to develop a vaccine for coronaviruses than for other viruses such as HIV or influenza."Every virus has its challenges, but coronaviruses can be a relatively straightforward vaccine target," Hotez said.If a vaccine is developed, he said, health care workers might be among the first to receive it because they're exposed to infected patients.It is "remarkable" that scientists are able to start developing a vaccine for a virus that was identified less than a month ago, he said.The next day, the CDC "activated its Emergency Operations Center to better provide ongoing support to the COVID-19 response" after confirming the first case of the virus in the U.S. Meanwhile, the NIH issued a release highlighting the steps the agency was taking to treat it:The latest CoV to emerge is the 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV), recognized by Chinese authorities in Wuhan on December 31, 2019. It has spread beyond Wuhan to other Chinese cities and to multiple countries, including at least one confirmed case in the United States. The Viewpoint authors write, “While the trajectory of this outbreak is impossible to predict, effective response requires prompt action from the standpoint of classic public health strategies to the timely development and implementation of effective countermeasures.”Current studies at NIAID-funded institutions and by scientists in NIAID laboratories include efforts that build on previous work on SARS- and MERS-CoVs. For example, researchers are developing diagnostic tests to rapidly detect 2019-nCoV infection and exploring the use of broad-spectrum anti-viral drugs to treat 2019-nCoVsOn January 23rd, the WHO issued a statement indicating that coronavirus "did not constitute a Public Health Emergency of International Concern," but the CDC wasn't buying it. On the same day, it sought "special emergency authorization from the Food and Drug Administration to allow U.S. states to use a CDC-developed diagnostic test to detect the new coronavirus from China."As Reuters reported at the time:Currently, states with suspected cases of the new virus must send samples to the CDC for confirmation, as was the case with the U.S. resident in Washington state who was infected while visiting Wuhan, China, the epicenter of the outbreak.China has put millions of people on lockdown in Wuhan and another nearby city as authorities around the world worked to prevent the virus’s global spread.Emergency Use Authorization from the FDA would allow states to use the CDC’s test, according to CDC spokesman Benjamin Haynes.Four days later, the CDC issued a Level III tavel health notice--the highest level it issues--warning Americans to avoid "all nonessential travel to China.""Widespread ongoing transmission of a respiratory illness caused by a novel (new) coronavirus (COVID-19) has been reported in China," the agency warned. "Widespread ongoing transmission means that people have been infected with the virus, but how or where they became infected is not known, and virus transmission is ongoing in many communities across a country or region."Two days later, on January 29th, President Trump announced the formation of a new Coronavirus Task Force."Members of the Task Force have been meeting on a daily basis since Monday," the White House said in a news release. "At today’s meeting, which the President chaired, he charged the Task Force with leading the United States Government response to the novel 2019 coronavirus and with keeping him apprised of developments."The Task Force will lead the Administration’s efforts to monitor, contain, and mitigate the spread of the virus, while ensuring that the American people have the most accurate and up-to-date health and travel information."That same day, President Trump signed the National Biodefense Strategy, a comprehensive, wide-ranging plan for combating outbreaks such as COVID-19. As the document outlined:Biological threats—whether naturally occurring, accidental, or deliberate in origin—are among the most serious threats facing the United States and the international community. Outbreaks of disease can cause catastrophic harm to the United States. They can cause death, sicken, and disable on a massive scale, and they can also inflict psychological trauma and economic and social disruption.The risks from biological threats cannot be reduced to zero – but they can and must be managed. Wide-ranging threats require a comprehensive approach to minimizing the risks. Through this National Biodefense Strategy, the United States Government will optimize its own efforts, and harness the work of essential partners—inside government and outside, domestically and internationally—to understand, prevent, prepare for, respond to, and recover from the full range of biological threats that can harm the American people and our partners.On January 31st, the Trump Administration put this plan into action, declaring coronavirus a public health emergency and announcing sweeping restrictions on travel to and from China that included funneling all flights into and out of the country into just seven American airports.Democrats immediately decried this as racist and xenophobic.“In moments like this, this is where the credibility of a president is most needed, as he explains what we should and should not do,” presidential candidate Joe Biden said. “This is no time for Donald Trump’s record of hysteria and xenophobia, hysterical xenophobia, to uh, and fear mongering.”The national news media followed Biden's lead and blasted Trump's order as unnecessary and cruel.Calling it an "emotional or political reaction," The New York Times highlighted how it "sent shocks through the stock market and rattled industries that depend on the flow of goods and people between the world’s two largest economies. Planning was upended for companies across a vast global supply chain, from Apple to John Deere, the tractor company."Vox.com was even more hysterical, writing that "the evidence on travel bans for diseases like coronavirus is clear: They don't work. They're political theater, not good public health policy."Not to be outdone, STATNews wrote that "the Trump administration’s decision to ban most foreign nationals who had been to China in the last two weeks from traveling to the United States amid an accelerating outbreak of a novel coronavirus there was preceded by calls for similar policies from conservative lawmakers and far-right supporters of the president. Public health experts, however, warn that the move could do more harm than good."The Washington Post, meanwhile, simply regurgitated Chinese propaganda:But even before U.S. officials announced such a drastic escalation in travel restrictions on Friday, China’s Foreign Ministry criticized the United States for making “unfriendly comments” during the coronavirus outbreak and said a U.S. warning against travel to China went against recommendations made by the World Health Organization to not restrict travel or trade. “In disregard of WHO recommendation against travel restrictions, the US went the opposite way,” the ministry’s spokesman said in English-language messages on Twitter on Friday. “Where is its empathy?”On February 4th, President Trump devoted a portion of his State of the Union Address to the outbreak, saying that "protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China. My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat."Afterwards, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi infamously ripped the President's speech up.Two days later, the CDC announced that it had begun shipping the coronavirus test kits it had developed to laboratories across the U.S. and the world:A CDC-developed laboratory test kit to detect 2019 novel coronavirus (2019-nCoV) began shipping yesterday to select qualified U.S. and international laboratories. Distribution of the tests will help improve the global capacity to detect and respond to the 2019 novel coronavirus.The test kit, called the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) 2019-Novel Coronavirus (2019-nCov) Real-Time Reverse Transcriptase (RT)-PCR Diagnostic Panel (CDC 2019-nCoV Real Time RT-PCR), is designed for use with an existing RT-PCR testing instrument that is commonly used to test for seasonal influenza.On February 9th, during the National Governors' Association Meeting in Washington, D.C., members of the Coronavirus Task Force gave a detailed briefing on the spread of the virus to governors across the country."Topics included the importance of close collaboration between federal, state, and local government agencies," The Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) said in a news release, "the ongoing work to protect and inform the American public; the decisive, proactive steps the Coronavirus Task Force has taken to date to slow the spread of the virus; the coordination with states on temporary travel restrictions, funneling of passengers, and screening activities currently in place; and the ongoing work on diagnostics, therapies, and vaccines."Two days later, HHS announced that it was "expanding our collaboration with Janssen Research & Development, part of Johnson & Johnson, to expedite the development of vaccines that protect against this new coronavirus."On Valentine's Day, February 14th, the CDC began "working with five public health labs across the U.S. to tap into their ability to conduct community-based influenza surveillance, so [the CDC] can begin testing people with flu-like symptoms for novel coronavirus." Four days later, it announced a plan to partner with Sanofil Pasteur to launch "a Phase II/III clinical program in the U.S. evaluating the marketed arthritis drug Kevzara (sarilumab) as a treatment for severe COVID-19 coronavirus infection in up to 400 patients."On February 24th, President Trump sent a letter to Congress requesting $2.5 billion to help fight the spread of coronavirus."The request for the Department of Health and Human Services includes $1.25 billion in new funds to fight COVID-19 and the transfer of $535 million from untouched funds for the Ebola virus," reported Axios.House Speaker Pelosi's response?"[T]he President is compounding our vulnerabilities by seeking to ransack funds still needed to keep Ebola in check. The President should not be raiding money that Congress has appropriated for other life-or-death public health priorities."Two days later, the President was in India for a state visit and discussed the effort to contain coronavirus during a joint press conference with Prime Minister Narendra Modi."We discussed a lot of different elements," Trump said. "We actually discussed the coronavirus. And at this moment, India doesn’t have much of a problem, they feel. We certainly — it wasn’t expressed that they did, which is great. And I think that whole situation will start working out. A lot of talent, a lot of brainpower is being put behind it. Two and a half billion dollars."On the final day of February, the FDA ramped up its development and testing of coronavirus test kits as the White House expanded its travel advisory for China to new outbreak hot spots Italy and South Korea while banning all travel to and from Iran altogether.For two straight months--from the moment it first learned from China that coronavirus was a potentially dangerous virus--the Trump Administration has worked to stop its spread, even as the President's enemies in the Democratic Party in the media derided him for it.Now, gallingly, they are even attempting to rewrite history and claim that his Administration did nothing for two months. But as even a cursory glance at the facts reveals, however, this is an abject, verifiable lie.Destroying the Lie that President Trump did Nothing as Coronavirus Spread | News/Talk 1130 WISN | Dan O'DonnellDebunking Every Major Media and Democrat Coronavirus LieBy Dan O'DonnellMar 18, 2020As President Trump's Administration has worked to slow the spread of Coronavirus, its efforts have been hampered by the spread of misinformation and outright lies by the President's political and media enemies, who just can't seem to help themselves.The lie that is most often repeated is that President Trump called the virus itself a "hoax." Pundits and politicians alike--from Lawrence O'Donnell to Stephen Colbert to Hillary Clinton, Congressman Tim Ryan, and Senator Sherrod Brown (among countless others)--have spread it so easily that it's almost impossible to remember what Trump actually said.On February 28th, at a rally in Charleston, South Carolina, the President actually told his audience that unfair media and Democrat criticism of his Administration's handling of Coronavirus was "their new hoax."Not the virus itself. The weaponization of it. In fact, the President's full quote indicates that he was taking the threat of Coronavirus very seriously, even going so far as to say that "we are totally prepared" for its spread:One of my people came up to me and said, “Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.” That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was on a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax. But we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We have 15 people in this massive country and because of the fact that we went early. We went early, we could have had a lot more than that. We’re doing great. Our country is doing so great. We are so unified. We are so unified. The Republican party has never ever been unified like it is now. There has never been a movement in the history of our country like we have now. Never been a movement. So a statistic that we want to talk about, go ahead. Say USA. It’s okay. USA. So a number that nobody heard of, that I heard of recently and I was shocked to hear it, 35,000 people on average die each year from the flu. Did anyone know that? 35,000, that’s a lot of people. It could go to 100,000, it could be 27,000. They say usually a minimum of 27, goes up to 100,000 people a year die. And so far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States. Nobody. And it doesn’t mean we won’t and we are totally prepared. It doesn’t mean we won’t, but think of it. You hear 35 and 40,000 people and we’ve lost nobody and you wonder the press is in hysteria mode.Almost immediately, fact-checking organizations debunked efforts to claim that Trump was calling the virus a hoax or downplaying its potential to spread. On February 29th, Check Your Fact noted that Trump "did not refer to the coronavirus itself as a hoax....In fact, he refers to the respiratory virus as a 'public health threat' and reiterates 'we have to take it very, very seriously. That’s what we’re doing. We are preparing for the worst.'"The day after that, during an interview with then-presidential candidate Michael Bloomberg, who asserted that Trump had called the virus a hoax, CBS News anchor Scott Pelley said "[Trump] said that the Democrats making so much of it is a Democratic hoax, not that the virus was a hoax."According to FactCheck.org, "Trump said that when he used the word 'hoax,' he was referring to Democrats finding fault with his administration’s response to coronavirus, not the virus itself. Even after Trump explained his remarks, some Democrats…continued to wrongly accuse him."The Washington Post gave Democrats' claim four Pinnochios, noting that "the full quote shows Trump is criticizing Democratic talking points and the media’s coverage of his administration’s response to coronavirus. He never says that the virus itself is a hoax[.]"Even the left-wing news site Slate had to admit that Trump "was saying the hoax is that he's handled it badly. Not the virus itself."To further this false narrative that President Trump has endangered Americans by downplaying the severity of a virus whose spread caught him unprepared, Democrats have repeatedly asserted that he cut funding for both the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and National Institutes of Health (NIH).“We increased the budget of the CDC," Biden said of the Obama Administration in which he served. "We increased the NIH budget....[Trump] wiped all that out....He cut the funding for the entire effort.”"There’s nobody here to figure out what the hell we should be doing," Bloomberg added during a primary debate last month. "And he’s defunded — he’s defunded Centers for Disease Control, CDC, so we don’t have the organization we need. This is a very serious thing."Only the President did no such thing. Funding for both the CDC and NIH have actually increased during his presidency. According to the Associated Press, "Trump’s budgets have proposed cuts to public health, only to be overruled by Congress, where there’s strong bipartisan support for agencies such as the CDC and NIH. Instead, financing has increased."A related lie--that President Trump closed the office responsible for pandemic response--circulated just as quickly and perniciously and was just as false. Tim Morrison, who ran the National Security Council's center for counterproliferation and biodefense, wrote an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled "No, the White House didn't 'dissolve' its pandemic response office. I was there.""It has been alleged by multiple officials of the Obama administration, including in The Post, that the president and his then-national security adviser, John Bolton, 'dissolved the office' at the White House in charge of pandemic preparedness," he wrote. "Because I led the very directorate assigned that mission, the counterproliferation and biodefense office, for a year and then handed it off to another official who still holds the post, I know the charge is specious."It is true that the Trump administration has seen fit to shrink the NSC staff. But the bloat that occurred under the previous administration clearly needed a correction. Defense Secretary Robert Gates, congressional oversight committees and members of the Obama administration itself all agreed the NSC was too large and too operationally focused (a departure from its traditional role coordinating executive branch activity). As The Post reported in 2015, from the Clinton administration to the Obama administration’s second term, the NSC’s staff “had quadrupled in size, to nearly 400 people.” That is why Trump began streamlining the NSC staff in 2017."Streamlining, obviously, is not closing and the claim that Trump did close the office was thoroughly debunked...by the man who ran the office.Amazingly, lies like that have been allowed to spread with little to no pushback. As with his claim about CDC and NIH funding, Biden similarly led the charge in spreading the verifiably false claim that the CDC under the Trump Administration rejected an offer to purchase Coronavirus test kits from the World Health Organization (WHO). This lie was repeated ad nauseum until Politfact discovered that the WHO never actually offered those kits to the CDC in the first place."No discussions occurred between WHO and CDC about WHO providing COVID-19 tests to the United States," Politifact quoted WHO spokeswoman Margaret Harris as saying. "This is consistent with experience since the United States does not ordinarily rely on WHO for reagents or diagnostic tests because of sufficient domestic capacity."In other words, the testing lie ignores the manner in which the WHO develops virus testing. As Poltifact explained:According to interviews with several infectious disease experts, Biden’s statement leaves out key context regarding how different countries decided on which test they’d use to identify the presence of the coronavirus.WHO lists seven different approaches — including that of China, the United States, Japan, Hong Kong, Thailand, France and Germany — each one targeting different parts of the COVID-19 genetic profile.Christopher Mores, a global health professor at George Washington University, said that when faced with an outbreak, the WHO will usually adopt the best test that a research group brings forward.The German one became the approach WHO circulated as its preferred model.Aid groups, such as the Pan American Health Organization, took that model and built their training and supplies around it. If the model was like the recipe in a cookbook, the supplies were the ingredients in a home meal kit from Blue Apron.Any country could use whatever recipe it preferred, and even if the United States had picked the WHO’s protocol, it wouldn’t need the WHO to sell it the materials to follow it. Germany released its protocol on Jan. 17, but the U.S. decided to have the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention develop its own. That protocol was published Jan. 28."Our quality analysis runs through the FDA," explained Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House's Coronavirus response coordinator. "All of these platforms we have asked people to submit and we’ve asked states to quality control. I mean, anybody could submit their test to us. We don’t buy tests that haven’t been quality controlled and they show us the data. Either show us the data upfront or show us the data after they’ve been running them because quality testing for our American people is paramount to us. It doesn’t help to put out a test where 50% or 47% are false positive."Imagine what that would mean to the American people. Imagine their level of concern now and telling people that they’re false positive. We take this same approach to HIV. Imagine telling someone they were positive to HIV and they weren’t. That is our bottom line, the customer, the American people first. Any of these groups can submit their testing kits through our regulatory processes, but without that and without a plan, we are not going to accept tests that have not been studied by us.""When I became involved in the testing world, I called as senior officials at the WHO as I could find to understand what the situation was," another member of the Coronavirus Response Team added. "As far as I can tell from sources that should know, no one ever offered a test that we refused."Naturally, this reassurance has mattered little, as the myth of rejected test kits has spread almost as quickly as the virus itself.So too has the myth that President Trump left states on their own to purchase ventilators for seriously ill patients.With the ominous headline "Trump to Governors on Ventilators: ‘Try Getting It Yourselves,’" The New York Times dishonestly reported on a phone call the President made to assorted state governors. Even though The Times embedded the actual audio in which Trump said that the federal government would of course back the states, it created the impression that Trump was abandoning them.Naturally, dozens of other news outlets and reporters repeated the false assertion.The Daily Beast✔@thedailybeastPresident Trump told several governors that they are largely on their own in stocking up on gear such as respirators and ventilators to fight the novel coronavirus https://trib.al/AkIeNkOTrump to U.S. Governors: Get Your Own Ventilators“We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves,” Trump said. “Point of sales, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourself.”thedailybeast.com115President Trump told several governors that they are largely on their own in stocking up on gear such as respirators and ventilators to fight the novel coronavirus https://t.co/2zakF0DB2l— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 16, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacyPresident Trump told several governors that they are largely on their own in stocking up on gear such as respirators and ventilators to fight the novel coronavirus https://t.co/2zakF0DB2l— The Daily Beast (@thedailybeast) March 16, 2020The Hill✔@thehillTrump told governors they should try to getting ventilators, respirators on their own http://hill.cm/ffaLXtW124Trump told governors they should try to getting ventilators, respirators on their own https://t.co/BBWRo6YUML pic.twitter.com/6b10MChJJu— The Hill (@thehill) March 16, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacyTrump told governors they should try to getting ventilators, respirators on their own https://t.co/BBWRo6YUML pic.twitter.com/6b10MChJJu— The Hill (@thehill) March 16, 2020Oliver Darcy✔@oliverdarcyTrump to governors: “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves" https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/us/politics/trump-coronavirus-respirators.html …Trump to Governors on Ventilators: ‘Try Getting It Yourselves’On a conference call with the nation’s governors, President Trump said they should try to get ventilators on their own ahead of an expected crush of coronavirus cases.nytimes.com63Trump to governors: “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves" https://t.co/E3Y24vhxot— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 16, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacyTrump to governors: “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves" https://t.co/E3Y24vhxot— Oliver Darcy (@oliverdarcy) March 16, 2020Yamiche Alcindor✔@YamichePres Trump told a group of governors today they should not wait for federal govt to fill growing demand for respirators needed to help people w/ coronavirus, per NYT.“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” he said.https://www.nytimes.com/2020/03/16/world/coronavirus-news.html#link-608173f0 …Coronavirus Live Updates: Trump Says to Limit Gatherings to 10 PeoplePresident Trump announced new guidelines, European nations sealed their borders and stock markets plunged. At least six Bay Area counties were expected to direct residents to stay at home, the most...nytimes.com1,333Pres Trump told a group of governors today they should not wait for federal govt to fill growing demand for respirators needed to help people w/ coronavirus, per NYT.“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” he said.https://t.co/TKI3L6pSwA— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 16, 2020Twitter Ads info and privacyPres Trump told a group of governors today they should not wait for federal govt to fill growing demand for respirators needed to help people w/ coronavirus, per NYT.“Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment — try getting it yourselves,” he said.https://t.co/TKI3L6pSwA— Yamiche Alcindor (@Yamiche) March 16, 2020In creating the false impression that Trump had abandoned the states as they desperately tried to find badly needed equipment, these outlets and reporters ignored the President's actual quote."We are backing you in terms of equipment and getting what you need," he told the governors. "Also, though, respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment--try getting it yourselves. We will be backing you, but try getting it yourselves. Point of sale, much better, much more direct if you can get it yourselves."The abandonment narrative, in other words, was a lie...and an apparently deliberate one."Yesterday I gave the governors the right to go order directly if they want, if they feel they can do it faster than going through the federal government," President Trump said. "No we've knocked out all of the bureaucracy, it's very direct, but it's still always faster to order directly. That was totally misinterpreted by The New York Times on purpose unfortunately."Given the repeated, widespread, and consistent misinformation regarding the Trump Administration's Coronavirus response from The Times, other hostile media outlets, and the Democrats who have repeatedly spread rumors, half-truths, and outright lies, it certainly does seem as though it is being done on purpose, but as always, the best remedy for this is the truth.Debunking Every Major Media and Democrat Coronavirus Lie | News/Talk 1130 WISN | Dan O'Donnell