Jeri Jacquin

Coming to Apple +/iTunes, Amazon, Fandango Now, Google Play/YouTube, Vudu and available town or rent from and available on HULU this Tuesday from writer/director Alex Gibney, Suzanne Hillinger, Ophelia Harutyunyan and NEON’s Indee TV comes the answers we have been asking about the US being TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL.

On January 20, 2020, Seattle, Washington became the center of attention as the first patient in the United States is confirmed to have a virus that has also been found in China. Known as Covid-19, China responded quickly to what was happening and the United States – did not. 200,000+ deaths later, the United States (or the world) is not the same. The U.S. has become a place of chaos and the question is put out ‘when did we lose control?’

That is where this documentary begins, bringing in people who were willing to talk about everything Covid-19 related and how deep down the rabbit hole we get to go. Gibney, Hillinger and Harutyunyan set up a ‘covid-camera’ as Scott Becker of Public Health is following the news about virus from the beginning.

Trump is found on television spewing his usual rhetoric with ‘hoax’s’ and ‘shams’, but Michael Shear, White House Correspondent for The New York Times knows a thing or two about outbreaks of viruses. On January 3, 2020 more and more people are taking notice as Dr. Rich Bright, Director of BARDA tracks early signals of the virus. Knowing they have viruses and wet markets in China, what caught his attention was the hospitals being quickly built in record time. He knew then this virus was deadly!

Dr. Eva Lee, Research Director, Georgia Institute of Technology is famous for her models of predictions. She saw the pandemic coming in January. Nancy Messinger was the spokesperson initially for the virus at the CDC. On January 17, 2020 she spoke of travelers coming from the US from Wuhan and coming up with a test.

Did the US have a book on how to deal with what scientists thought was coming? Yes, called the ‘playbook’ it is the Crimson Contagion from ASPR and it was used in October 2019 in test runs conducted in 12 states. Calling into question the results falls into the lap of Dr. Robert Kadlec. Emails show Kadlec thought this virus of 2020 was not a worry. Alex Azar, Secretary of Health and Human Services told Trump that things were under control.

Dr. Alex Groninger, Assistant Director of the University of Washington, Clinical Virology Lab worked on the first case that came to them. By this time, Wuhan had shut down completely. The virus rapidly spread in the US as Dr. Bright told Azar that the US needs a test and money – it did not go well. Yet, in South Korea they saw the need for diagnostic testing since the country had dealt with MERS in 2015. The KCDC knew that tests and medicines needed to be a priority.

Azar in the US kept telling Trump “we got this” and Dr. Redfield from the CDC says there is no need for alarm. Trump does not like science in any form, so scientists decide to start a chain email to fight back. Called ‘Red Dawn’ after the 1984 film, they wrote of this virus going wrong and gave dire warnings.

In 2009, President Obama believes that scientists should be listened to. Zeka, Ebola, MERS and H1N1are all viruses Dr. Tom Frieden, former Director of the CDC was well aware of. When Ebola struck four years later, Obama created a response team with Beth Cameron, National Security Council Senior director who took lessons learned and created a pandemic playbook that was mean for this type of emergency – it was not used.

Mitch McConnell went on cable news saying they were left with no playbook by the previous administration, but we all know now that is a lie. No one in the Trump administration wanted anything to do with anything the previous administration did. John Bolton is responsible for helping to erase the very things that could have helped us all now.

Azar creates a Covid-19 task force at the end of January and here is where the world meets Dr. Anthony Fauci from the National Institute of Health. At this same meeting, entry into the US becomes difficult. In February, cruise ships are struck down with the virus as Dr. James Lawler, Infectious Disease Specialist from the University of Nebraska Medical Center sees how the virus was dealt with and the US passengers trying to get home. He new that tests, tracing and isolate was the call to arms.

In the meantime, the CDC is making a test but must apply to bypass lengthy laws. Kits go out on February 8 and by February 9th there is an immediate problem. Instead of helping, the FDA leaves the CDC flapping in the wind. Dr. Groninger decides that he is willing to jump through all the hoops to get the test going and Seattle’s numbers of infected is increasing. The White House could have made good things happen – but they chose not to.

South Korea is way ahead of the US as they have a contact tracing program and cell phone alerts ramping up test kits and Personal Protective Equipment, we now call PPE’s. Yet in the US it was business as usual as Trump gives inaccurate numbers (and I am being kind here). Finally, those around Trump tell him that the virus is getting serious. Nancy Messinger takes it a step further by coming forward with the truth in all its frightening forms.

Trump is outraged and puts VP Pence in charge of the Covid task force taking power out of Azar’s hands. This is where we all meet Dr. Deborah Birx. After a month of no testing, the FDA and CDC go back to the original test with a change, still, not everyone can get tested. Trump calls Covid a Hoax and that no one ‘has died from it’ and on February 29, 2020 – he would be proven wrong. Now outbreaks are happening in factories and nursing homes as the aged and race are rising in vast numbers.

By March, Trump is still touting that anyone can get a test, and everyone knows that is still a lie. The scientists like Dr. Fauci tell it like it really is while Trump and his followers tell lies. New York becomes the next hotspot as the reality of no PPE’s and ventilators become the next horrifying scare. Mike Bowen, VP of Prestige Ameritech tells anyone who will listen that mask makers are out of the country so no exporting of what the US needs.

Hospital workers are reusing their masks and gowns and the public is told they do not need masks. In the meantime, Trump puts his son-in-law Jared Kushner in charge of getting supplies. He in turn uses volunteers to find supplies which turns out to be a massive joke. These 20-year-old volunteers were forced to sign NDA’s. The Governor of California Newsom basically has to play ‘hail to the king’ groveling to get supplies. The Governor of Maryland has a better idea and gets the supplies himself!

Trump gets on national television and pushes hydroxychloroquine as a cure for Covid turning to a YouTube doctor for his information as scientists are shocked. Doctors are frustrated trying to help their patients with accurate information while the White House spews nonsense.  Dr. Bright had enough and went rogue. Testifying to Congress the facts, Trump and Azar have other plans for the doctor.

By April after months of shutdowns, Trump begins to make demands for the US to reopen calling for people to protest. He begins censoring the CDC and tells US citizens a vaccine will be here by the fall (notice we are in October).

What have all these scientists come to grips with? That science is key, smile without eyes and a mask over our faces, care about citizens as much as building missiles and finally – politicians are the problem.

For me – there is one politician who we are supposed to trust with our lives, and he is going to get us all killed.

Writer/Director Gibney has quite a resume that includes a few other documentaries I enjoyed like CLIENT 9: The Rise and Fall of Eliot Spitzer, CASINO JACK AND THE UNITES STATES OF MONEY and CITIZEN K. What I love most about his work is that he just tells the truth of a situation and lets the viewer come to their own conclusion – no preaching, just “here it is, the stark truth of it all” and with TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL he doesn’t need to convince most of us of the truth, but I appreciate knowing more than I did.

Speaking out in the documentary are Kathleen Sebelius, Francis Riedo, Scott Becker, Thomas Frieden, Michael Shear, Rick Bright, Taison Bell, Michael Bowen, Beth Cameron, Caroline Chen, Alex Groninger, Max Kennedy, Victoria Kim, James Lawler, Eva Lee, Kim Jon Young and Vladimir Zelendo.

TOTALLY UNDER CONTROL is a frightening look how many people were sounding the alarm to a government that refused to listen. There are so many of us that have lost loved ones (three in my own family alone), friends, spouses, children and we only get their ‘condolences’ when most of us want them on trial for murder.

Trump, Pence, Azar, and the rest are responsible for those death because they choose to believe they are invincible, THEY are invincible. They care nothing for the citizens they are suppose to be helping and have proved it time and time again with their endless press conferences to puff up their own egos while people watching are afraid every time they walk out the door.

These are heartless carbon-based units, they certainly do not qualify as people, who will do whatever they want with no consequences. It is almost as if they hope we die in larger numbers so they can continue without interruption trampling over the graves of the 200,000+ already gone.

This is a documentary that had my jaw dropping! So many people who tried to help and were personally and professionally insulted and sent packing ruining lives and careers in shocking. It should not be because this administration thrives on destruction, but it is.

Please, please take the time to watch this documentary. Gibney gives you the undisputable facts that we should have been told all along.

In the end – totally out of control is more like it!



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About the Author

Jeri Jacquin

Jeri Jacquin covers film, television, DVD/Bluray releases, celebrity interviews, festivals and all things entertainment.