Alex Azar

Alex Azar


U.S. Department of Health and Human Services


As Secretary of Health and Human Services, Azar played a central role in the Trump administration’s botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic and oversaw key aspects of the administration’s deliberately cruel family separation policy.

COVID Disinformation

  • As one of the country’s top health officials, Azar played a central role in the Trump administration’s botched response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Among other failures, Azar parroted Trump’s misinformation about treating the virus with the anti-malarial drug hydroxychloroquine despite a lack of scientific evidence, refused to take responsibility for the administration’s early failures to manage the COVID-19 pandemic, and kept COVID-19 threat meetings classified, restricting access to public health officials who needed information about the outbreak.  [, 3/24/20; House Coronavirus Subcommittee, 10/02/20; Reuters, 03/11/20]

Separating Families

  • Azar was involved in and oversaw key aspects of the Trump administration’s deliberately cruel family separation policy. Records show that Azar was one of the senior Trump officials invited to White House meeting at which a vote was taken to enact the “zero tolerance” policy. Under that policy, migrant children separated at the U.S. border were transferred to facilities supervised by HHS, without an adequate system for tracking families who had been separated. In the months before it began, officials within HHS had raised alarms about the potential harm such a policy could cause. [NBC News, 08/20/20, HHS Office of Inspector General, 01/19, CNN, 03/05/20]

News Coverage and Headlines

  • “[I]nterviews with more than two dozen administration officials and others involved in the government’s coronavirus effort show that Mr. Azar waited for weeks to brief the president on the threat, oversold his agency’s progress in the early days and didn’t coordinate effectively across the health-care divisions under his purview. [Wall Street Journal, 04/22/20]
  • “At the hearing, Azar defended Trump’s pandemic response and answered questions about controversial HHS ad campaigns. When asked about the nation’s coronavirus death toll, which is more than 200,000 people, Azar said: ‘We regret any loss of life. Let’s be very clear about that. We wish we didn’t have this … pandemic but people do die in pandemics.’ He didn’t acknowledge any steps the administration could have taken to combat the pandemic early on, instead pointing to Trump’s travel bans as an example of policies that saved lives.” [American Oversight, 10/02/20]
  • “Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar said Tuesday that his department was performing ‘one of the great acts of American generosity and charity’ in its care of immigrant children. Repeatedly pressed by CNN’s Wolf Blitzer on ‘The Situation Room’ about why HHS won’t allow media cameras into facilities housing children, Azar said, ‘We have nothing to hide about how we operate these facilities.’ ‘It is one of the great acts of American generosity and charity, what we are doing for these unaccompanied kids who are smuggled into our country or come across illegally,’ Azar added.” [CNN, 07/10/18
  • HEADLINE: “Trump Cabinet Officials Voted in 2018 White House Meeting to Separate Migrant Children, Say Officials” [NBC News 08/20/20
  • HEADLINE: “Health Chief’s Early Missteps Set Back Coronavirus Response” [Wall Street Journal, 04/22/20]
  • HEADLINE: “Alex Azar’s Resignation Letter Paints a Misleading Picture of Trump’s Coronavirus Response” [Vox, 01/16/21]