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Mitt Romney
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Romney: U.S. had ‘disappointing’ response to COVID-19 pandemic

FILE - In this June 9, 2020, file photo, Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, talks to reporters as he arrives for the weekly Republican policy luncheon on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Susan Walsh, File)

Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) criticized the Trump Administration Friday, calling the response to the coronavirus pandemic “very disappointing.” 

This comes as the U.S. continues to lead the world for most COVID-19 deaths, with 169,754 as of Sunday, according to a database by John Hopkins University.  The U.S. also reports the most coronavirus cases, with more than 5.3 million reported. 

“From a health standpoint, certainly the numbers speak for themselves,” Romney said in a video interview with the Sutherland Institute Friday. 

These federal mistakes in the pandemic response were both long term and short term, the senator said. Many oversights began over the course of several presidents and members of Congress. 

“You really have to blame all of us,” Romney said. “Short term, I think it’s fair to say we really have not distinguished ourselves in a positive way by how we responded to the crisis when it was upon us.”

Short-term COVID-19 response

In the short term — meaning how the U.S. reacted once the pandemic entered the country — Romney said the reaction wasn’t immediate enough. Instead, he said the Trump Administration had a “tendency” to “dismiss COVID-19 as a threat.” 

Romney said this caused the administration to overlook “how serious” the pandemic could become. 

“We have 5% of the world’s population but 25% of the world’s deaths due to COVID-19,” the senator said. “And there’s no way to spin that into a positive light.” 

Some mistakes stem from the past

However, Romney acknowledged there were several long-term mistakes that were made from previous administrations that added fuel to the fire. 

Part of this included the lack of personal protective equipment in the national stockpile. This oversight led to a shortage of PPE in the beginning stages of the pandemic. 

The U.S. also did poorly in preserving the manufacturing capacity needed for providing essential items like face masks, according to Romney. As a result, the country relied on supply chains from China and other countries. 

“Again, any one of the presidents could’ve done that,” he said. ““Frankly, every Congress and every president deserves their share of the blame.”

A victory amid the mistakes

Despite the shortcomings in some aspects, the Utah senator commended the  financial relief Congress was able to pass through the CARES Act. In fact, the Senate unanimously approved the package — which Romney noted was a rare thing to do.  

This $2.2 trillion relief package aided small businesses and families who were struggling because of the pandemic. However, Romney said, the administration could’ve done more to release guidelines on how these businesses could navigate the financial hardships posed by the pandemic. 

Although the federal government moved quickly on the CARES Act, Romney said there were still some “mistakes made” regarding the distribution of the funds.