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Sun Mar 1, 2020, 12:35 PM

How Trump 'sabotaged' this country's ability to respond to a coronavirus pandemic

How Trump 'sabotaged' this country's ability to respond to a coronavirus pandemic
Dartagnan for Community Contributors Team
Friday February 28, 2020 · 11:49 AM EST

Less than a month ago, the prospect of the deadly coronavirus spreading throughout the country as part of a worldwide pandemic was just a hypothetical proposition. In those heady times, so recent yet seemingly so long ago, important administration officials such as Commerce Secretary Wilbur Ross let their whims and fancies run free, even suggesting that the COVID-19 epidemic might turn out to be a net positive that would “accelerate the return of jobs to North America." At about the same time, a stupefyingly ignorant Donald Trump preemptively claimed that “we have it under control,” and promised that “it’s going to be just fine.”

Following this week’s blunt warning from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) telling Americans to prepare themselves for a pandemic, the administration’s rose-colored glasses have yet to come off. “We have contained this,” said former television host Larry Kudlow, now director of Trump’s National Economic Council. ”I won’t say ‘airtight,’ but pretty close to airtight.” Earlier this week, Trump accused the media and Democrats of feeding a sense of panic in the financial markets, while also demonstrating that he didn’t even know how to spell “coronavirus” correctly.

Things would only get worse.

During a cringe-inducing press conference on Wednesday, accurately described by a former World Health Organization official as “incoherent,” Trump struggled to correctly count the number of American citizens confirmed to be infected with the virus, just before he summarily punted the entire issue to Vice President Mike Pence. The financial markets that Trump pays such close attention to were not reassured, promptly tanking at the sound of Thursday’s opening bell.

Meanwhile, in the reality-based world, Dr. Nancy Messonnier, director of the National Center for Immunization and Respiratory Diseases, stated that “it’s not so much a question of if this will happen in this country anymore, but of when this will happen.” Echoing the CDC’s grim assessment, Messonnier further warned that the public should “prepare for the expectation that this might be bad.”

At this point, faced with such a seemingly contradictory barrage of information, it is probably a good time for Americans to know exactly how ill-prepared the United States finds itself to meet a challenge as daunting as this potential pandemic, all due to the actions of the Trump administration. That lack of preparedness may also explain why the administration has relentlessly downplayed the seriousness of the outbreak: As pointed out in this cogent piece by Frank DiPrima, whatever happens as a result of this nascent pandemic, the Trump administration is going to own it—good, bad, or horrific.

In late January, Laurie Garrett, writing for Foreign Policy (not exactly a left-wing publication) authored a disturbing article, titled “Trump Has Sabotaged America’s Coronavirus Response.” At that time, the virus’s spread was limited to certain parts of China and thus must have seemed rather “exotic” to someone with as limited a comprehension of global geography as Donald Trump. But the article makes the strong case that, thanks entirely to Trump’s own malfeasance in deliberately neutering the response mechanisms put in place by President Obama, our country has never been in a worse position to handle a global pandemic. Garrett’s article vividly illustrates just how serious and consequential Trump’s arbitrary cuts within the federal government—in the guise of “streamlining” functions and cutting so-called “wasteful” budgets—really can be when actual American lives are on the line.



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