Flickr / The White House
The 45th President of the United States had more power to change the course of the pandemic than any other individual. Instead, he spent most of the critical early days when the virus could have been contained, on the golf course.
Trump chose money over lives
The President has bet his reelection campaign on the promise of a strong economy. On February 25, Dr. Messonnier, the Director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases spoke at a COVID-19 press briefing.
She warned that the debate over a wide outbreak of the virus was no longer a question of “if this will happen anymore, but rather more a question of exactly when.” Her comments caused the stock market to crash and the President lashed out and threatened to fire her.
Trump chose to downplay the deadly disease, calling it “a flu” and predicting it “goes away in April with the heat”.
The first sign that the President was more concerned about the economy became clear on March 7 when he refused to let infected patients disembark from the Grand Princess cruise ship waiting off the coast of San Francisco. “I like the numbers being where they are” explained the President.
Trump has the authority to bolster the national stockpile of medical supplies, order the manufacturing of ventilators, and recommend states join a nationwide lockdown to contain the virus. He is not leveraging the power of the Defense Production Act he invoked. He waited months before placing bulk orders for personal protective equipment for health workers.
Where states looked for guidance he left them to battle over supplies in bidding wars.
Some states were forced to order in their own personal protective gear for their health workers. The Governor of Massachusetts flew in masks from China. Maryland’s Governor bought half a million tests from South Korea and hid them under National Guard protection. Even Trump’s wingman Senator Cory Gardner of Colorado had his order of 500,000 ventilators seized by the federal government and only got 100,000 back.
Trump fails again and again
When the nation needed a lockdown, the President encouraged states to reopen. As unmasked protesters gathered in large numbers to protest the stay-at-home orders, Trump cheered them on.
During the Coronavirus Task Force briefings to address the nation, Trump congratulated himself and boasted he was “number one on Facebook” (he is not).
When infectious diseases experts warned not to expect a vaccine too quickly, the President of the United States suggested that injecting bleach could be a solution.
Month after month of missed opportunities, insufficient testing, and lack of a unified response across the states have taken their toll.
Now, the “invisible enemy” has even snuck into the White House. As ever closer members of Trump’s circle test positive for COVID-19, the President needs to take responsibility now.
It is already too late for well over 50,000 Americans.