The COVID-19 pandemic should be the end of the road for the Trump presidency.
The federal government has failed in its initial response, and that responsibility falls squarely on the president’s shoulders. He was elected to lead, and he has proven he is unable to do so.
Of course, what was anyone really expecting from Trump? This is the president who has tried – multiple times – to cut funding for the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. He also fired the U.S. pandemic response team, and he didn’t replace them. This is also the president who said, just a few weeks ago, that the virus was a new “Democratic hoax.”
I don’t know what changed his tune this past week when he finally declared a national state of emergency. It may have been his own close call with COVID-19 – after all, he was supposedly tested after being exposed to it at Mar-a-Lago – or it may have been the fact that thousands of Americans have now fallen ill with the virus. I guess it’s hard to persist with the “hoax” talk when your own people are dying.
Whatever the case may be, I’m afraid our government’s response is “too little, too late,” especially as other countries have implemented strong testing measures and even started quarantines. In South Korea, for example, residents can go through drive-thru testing sites and get results texted directly to their cellphones within 10 minutes. By the way, did I mention the test is free, paid for by the government?
Hong Kong is another example. After the first cases were detected, the government quickly developed diagnostic tests and deployed them to every major hospital. More than 12,000 people were placed in quarantine, and government leaders called for calm. With a unified response, Hong Kong is seeing a limited number of cases instead of explosive impacts.
A similar situation can be found in Singapore and in several other countries. The countries hit the hardest, such as Italy and Iran, all failed to respond quickly to the pandemic and downplayed its enormous impact. Those countries have casualty numbers in the thousands.
The U.S. response should have been immediate and decisive. Instead, as one article put it, we are acting like a “failed state” with no idea how to handle such a crisis. Our leaders don’t have consistent messaging, and Trump has even tried to control public health notices issued from the CDC. As Ashish Jha, who runs the Harvard Global Health Institute, put it, our government’s response has been a “fiasco.”
The U.S. is currently reporting thousands of cases, but that number is probably extremely low due to a weeks-long delay in deploying tests, said Jha. He expects the number to be probably “five to 10 times as many cases out in the community as have actually been detected,” according to an NPR report.
“Without testing, you have no idea how extensive the infection is. You can’t isolate people. You can’t do anything,” he said. “And so then we’re left with a completely different set of choices. We have to shut schools, events and everything down, because that’s the only tool available to us until we get testing back up. It’s been stunning to me how bad the federal response has been.”
The responsibility for the “fiasco” of the federal response goes back to Trump. This hasn’t been a hoax, Mr. President, and you and your administration will go down in history as extremely ineffective and weak in a time of crisis.
When Trump took office, his inaugural address was about stopping the “American carnage,” but as our casualty numbers mount, I wonder what the carnage will look like over the next few months. It’s a terrifying proposition.
We can’t afford another crisis with Trump at the helm (literally … I mean, take a look at the stock market), and we certainly can’t afford four more years of potential disaster because we have such an irresponsible leader.
Trump must be voted out in November. It’s no longer a game of politics. It’s a game of our survival.