ISSN 2330-717X

Robert Reich: Trump’s Failed Coronavirus Response – OpEd

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In February he knew COVID-19 was dangerous, but he intentionally downplayed it.

In March he didn’t want to be held responsible for it.

He told governors they were responsible for getting ventilators and protective equipment – setting off bidding wars, state against state, city against city.

He peddled an unproven remedy, hydroxychloroquine, which the FDA warned against.

There was no national response. No national standards. Governors and mayors haphazardly closed businesses and schools.

In April he suggested more quack remedies.

He pushed governors to reopen states earlier than the Centers for Disease Control thought wise.The CDC warned him such reopenings could mean a “significant risk of resurgence of the virus.”

In May he continued to minimize the threat.

He blamed the increasing number of cases on excessive testing.

In June he suggested slowing the testing down.

In July he muzzled CDC experts. The Trump administration directed hospitals to stop reporting key coronavirus data to the nonpartisan CDC, and instead report it to HHS, which falls under the supervision of the administration.

He demanded schools ignore CDC guidelines, and plan to fully reopen in the Fall – even threatening to cut off funding if schools refused.

His political appointees pressured the CDC to change warnings and scientific conclusions they didn’t like.

He lied about how well America was doing relative to the rest of the world.

When extra unemployment benefits ended July 31, he didn’t push to extend them.

In August he peddled hydroxychloroquine again, even after the FDA revoked its emergency authorization in June.

He blamed the “deep state” for making it difficult to test vaccines.

He suggested the FDA was trying to deliberately delay treatments until after Election Day.

In September he claimed a vaccine could be available before the election.

He continued holding campaign rallies where many went without masks.

He blamed the mounting number of COVID deaths on “blue states.”

His lackeys pressured the CDC to remove language on its website confirming that airborne droplets could transmit the virus, before being forced to reverse the change.

At the first presidential debate, he mocked Joe Biden for wearing a mask.

He didn’t want his White House staff to wear masks. He criticized a White House reporter for wearing a mask. He held White House events where people didn’t wear masks or maintain social distancing.

In October the White House itself became a hotspot for the disease.

Trump himself tested positive for coronavirus and was airlifted to Walter Reed Medical Center for emergency treatment.

When he announced he’d be discharged, he told the American people: “Don’t be afraid of COVID.” He then tweeted COVID is “far less lethal” than the flu. Both Facebook and Twitter flagged this as misinformation.

Despite all the infections, the White House did no contact tracing, and declined the help of the CDC to do so.

And the White House still did not require masks because, according to the Deputy Press Secretary, “everyone needs to take personal responsibility.”

Now 225,000 Americans are dead. 

America has suffered the worst rate of coronavirus deaths among all advanced countries – a death toll equal to 9/11 every three days. And, as a recent Cornell study confirmed, Trump’s blatant disinformation has been the largest driver of COVID misinformation in the world.

This is not leadership. It is pure, malicious incompetence and it’s killing Americans.  

Robert Reich

Robert Reich

Robert B. Reich is Chancellor's Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley and Senior Fellow at the Blum Center for Developing Economies. He served as Secretary of Labor in the Clinton administration, for which Time Magazine named him one of the ten most effective cabinet secretaries of the twentieth century. He has written fifteen books, including the best sellers "Aftershock", "The Work of Nations," and"Beyond Outrage," and, his most recent, "The Common Good," which is available in bookstores now. He is also a founding editor of the American Prospect magazine, chairman of Common Cause, a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences, and co-creator of the award-winning documentary, "Inequality For All." He's co-creator of the Netflix original documentary "Saving Capitalism," which is streaming now.

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