Today, USA Today reported Trump Campaign co-chair and failed gubernatorial candidate Adam Laxalt received special treatment in March to receive a COVID-19 test despite a lack of symptoms when testing for everyday Nevadans was scarce and those without symptoms were not prioritized. As Governor Sisolak and governors across the country were pleading for more supplies such as personal protective equipment (PPE) and widespread testing capabilities, Trump told states to “try getting it yourselves.” But when it came to giving Laxalt peace of mind after he attended a Republican event in which someone had tested positive for COVID, administration officials suddenly had the ability to provide a test on command.
By Brett Murphy and Letitia Stein
September 18, 2020
- Dr. Robert Redfield called Nevada’s chief medical officer on a Saturday night in early March with an extraordinary request.
- Adam Laxalt, the former attorney general of Nevada until 2019 and booster for President Donald Trump, believed he was exposed to the coronavirus while attending the Conservative Political Action Conference in Maryland. But Laxalt was not showing symptoms and could not get approved for a test through a local hospital.
- On the phone call, Redfield asked the medical officer, Dr. Ihsan Azzam, to get it done, according to interviews and internal communications USA TODAY received through records requests.
- Azzam, who had never met or spoken with Redfield before, was stunned. At the time, testing capacity around the country was scarce and people without symptoms often were not a priority.
- “It wasn’t the protocol,” Azzam told USA TODAY in an interview. “This is a VIP person. We got a call from the CDC director who is advising that we test him for COVID-19.”
- The next morning, Azzam contacted the county health department in Reno and fast-tracked Laxalt’s test. Redfield called back hours later to thank him, Azzam said.
- Redfield’s intervention on Laxalt’s behalf also sheds light on how some of those with powerful connections — including celebrities and star athletes — have received preferential care since the beginning of the crisis. “That’s privilege,” Richard Whitley, director of the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services, told USA TODAY.
- Redfield has been criticized for capitulating to White House political pressure and failing to stand up for the scientists inside his agency. For instance, White House officials have been screening the CDC’s weekly coronavirus reports and issuing testing guidance that contradicts the agency’s own scientists.
- Testing capacity in the U.S. for the coronavirus remained limited in March after the CDC had botched the rollout of the initial test the month before. While Trump and federal officials were claiming that testing was widely available, supplies were so limited that local and state health officials still influenced where resources went.
Read the full story here.
Nevada State Democratic Party spokesperson Molly Forgey released the following statement:
“There’s a reason Adam Laxalt is serving as the Trump Campaign’s co-chair–because Laxalt and Trump are one in the same. It’s no wonder Laxalt penned an op-ed just to gush about Trump’s pandemic response–he directly benefited from his relationship with the president. Throughout this pandemic, Trump has consistently put himself and those around him first. Testing protocol was broken in order to fast track a COVID test for Laxalt, loans designed for small businesses were given to large corporations, and emergency directives were ignored when Trump wanted to hold an indoor rally with thousands in Henderson. All this while Trump and Laxalt relentlessly spread lies and misinformation about our state and Governor Sisolak who, unlike the president, has put everyday Nevadans first throughout this pandemic. Trump and Laxalt can continue to spread lies, but Nevadans know the truth: there’s no room for regular Nevadans in Trump’s America and they will vote him out in November.”