Trump’s response worsened the COVID-19 outbreak


Trump tweeted, “We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It’s going to be just fine,” the day after the first case of COVID-19 was confirmed in the US, despite WHO’s high-risk warning for the virus.

A run to the grocery looks a lot different now than it did a month ago. Everyone sports face masks and stressed expressions. Don’t even try to find toilet paper. COVID-19 has changed everything, with more than 16 million Americans filing for unemployment since mid-March, more than 40,000 deaths in the US, and more than 165,000 worldwide. Although the last outbreak that threatened the US happened a century ago, the government has procedures to plan for outbreaks when they do happen. Unfortunately, Trump has been ignoring these procedures, if not downright dismantling them, which has undeniably furthered the spread of COVID-19 and the US and endangers lives.
After the Ebola outbreak of 2014-2016, President Obama set up the White House National Security Council’s Directorate for Global Health Security and Bio-defense, a team to lead preparation for future disease control, and coordinate the federal response. Trump’s national security advisor, John Bolton, disbanded this team in 2018, and fired several big players in disease control, including head of pandemic attacks, Rear Adm. Timothy Ziemer and his team, and the then homeland security advisor, Tom Bossert, who had called for a strategy for pandemics. Bolton’s actions left a large hole in the government’s field of vision, which has come back to bite during the current COVID-19 epidemic.

The lack of federal push for testing due to the disorganization within the government made the national reaction to the virus much slower than other countries.

However, Trump has defended his administration’s actions: he said during a White House briefing on Feb 27, “I’m a businessperson. I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them. When we need them, we can get them back very quickly.”
The lack of preparedness undeniably worsened the government’s response to COVID-19. The virus was first discovered in late Dec 2019 in Wuhan China, and the first case of COVID-19 in the US was detected on Jan 19 in Washington. Despite the known extreme contagiousness of the virus, the CDC administered less than 500 tests in February. The lack of federal push for testing due to the disorganization within the government made the national reaction to the virus much slower than other countries. South Korea tested more than 66,000 people within the week after community spread started within the country. In comparison, it took 3 weeks for the US to administer the same amount of tests. The lack of initial testing put the US on track for a much more serious outbreak, as testing is one of the only resources available to track and isolate the virus.
To pile it on, Trump has been downplaying COVID-19 since he first heard about it. On February 27, the same time that California and Oregon reported the start of community transmission, Trump tweeted, “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” Trump has also compared the virus to the common flu in an effort to downplay its severity, which experts say is a dangerous and inaccurate comparison. Because of his immense influence as the president, Trump inevitably worsened the spread just by downplaying COVID-19. During times of crisis, people often turn to the president and follow what they say, regardless of whether or not it is accurate. By continuously arguing that the virus, “is very much under control in the USA,” and making claims that social distancing would be over very soon, Trump inevitably influenced a portion of the population to not take the virus seriously, undermining efforts to contain the disease.
Now, more than 40,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US, and the number will continue to grow. The administration has been working against the virus, but Trump’s actions have unquestionably led to COVID-19 taking more of a toll than what could have been.
In order to counteract this, make sure to get information from the CDC, and continue to social distance to help slow the spread of COVID-19.