by John Howe
I’m sure most Americans, especially the friends and families of the more than 200,000 Americans (and counting) who have died from COVID-19, don’t like hearing President Trump say, over and over, that he has the virus “under control.”
For more than a month after scientists told him about it, Trump wasted precious time (and American lives) flip-flopping between praising and criticizing China’s response, imposing slipshod China travel restrictions, calling the pandemic a “hoax,” and insisting that it would magically “disappear” without a vaccine. A Columbia University study later estimated that 36,000 American lives would have been saved if broad social distancing had started only a few weeks earlier.
Trump then suggested injecting disinfectants and hyped hydroxychloroquine as a possible therapeutic, even after medical experts warned that both treatments would be dangerous. He threatened to withhold funding from the World Health Organization. He urged local economies and schools to reopen before it was safe to do so, recklessly ignoring guidelines developed by his own administration’s experts at the Centers for Disease Control.
After many weeks of deriding masks, again ignoring medical science, Trump reluctantly decided he wouldn’t look too bad wearing one, but only as an optional accessory, not a public health requirement.
Meanwhile, he refused to fully invoke the Defense Production Act and develop a national strategy for actually dealing with the virus. Instead he dumped that huge challenge on states and municipalities that don’t have the vast resources of the federal government, dooming them to squabble over scarce supplies of test kits, ventilators and personal protective equipment.
As of August 28, the United States, with only four percent of the world’s population, had by far the most COVID-19 cases of any country. No wonder most Americans, including many Republicans, don’t trust anything Trump says about this unprecedented national disaster and epic personal failure that he’s still trying to dodge. It’s now up to the rest of us to “stop this nonsense” (as Dr. Anthony Fauci, our nation’s top epidemiologist, has politely suggested), beat back the virus, then fully restore our economy, with mutual respect, true grit, and dependable science.