It has been nearly a year, and Trump seriously fumbled his response to the Covid-19 global pandemic. Most of the world understands this. In addition, too many people continue to believe that it is all a hoax. Unfortunately, that has made the crisis worse as many people are unwilling to take precautions or receive the Covid-19 vaccine. Although President Biden was inaugurated in January, it is too late to undo much of the damage. What went wrong with the Covid-19 response? A lot.
Currently, there have been well over 112 million cases globally, with over 2.5 million deaths. In the United States alone, there have been over 28 million cases and over 500 thousand deaths. In November 2020, the numbers of new Covid-19 cases approached 200 thousand per day and kept rising into January of 2021, but thankfully, this pressure has eased. Currently, there are about 65 thousand new cases in the U.S. each day.
The number of deaths are staggering. 500,000 people have died already, and thousands of people continue to die with each passing week. The worst week ended January 9th, 2021, when 23,000 Americans died.
Fortunately, a vaccine is now available and over 66 million Americans have been vaccinated so far.
So what went wrong? As the current crisis unfolded, Americans were given false hope that the Trump Administration would control the pandemic. There was a period of denial, followed by a period of action, which was in turn followed by another period of denial.
There was a point in time when it became clear that the Trump Administration no longer seemed to be interested in following the advice of of the WHO, the CDC, or even the NIH. Somewhere along the line they brought in consultants that offered alternative information and advice on how to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. The result of that seems to be that the United States became the nation with the most cases of Covid-19, along with the highest total number of deaths.
Numbers are tricky though. As of February 25th, 2021, the United States is ranked seventh in the world for Covid deaths per 1 million population. That works out to 1.53 deaths per million citizens, although not much better than the absolute worst country, Belgium, which has suffered 1.91 deaths per million citizens. See how numbers can be confusing? The bottom line is that no matter how you count the numbers, the United States is among the nations that are worst affected by Covid-19.
Denial was the first strategy:
In the beginning, we heard Trump claim the virus was completely under control and the cases would be down to zero within a few days. Of course, that was soon judged to be a pipe dream.
“We have it totally under control. It’s one person coming in from China. We have it under control. It’s going to be just fine.”Trump
We also know what went wrong in those very early days thanks to Bob Woodward. It turned out that Trump revealed to Bob Woodward in February and March that Covid-19 was bad. Really bad. Woodward even had Trump saying so on tape. Unfortunately, Woodward didn’t tell anybody until September. Meanwhile, the whole world listened to the Trump Administration claim there was nothing to worry about.
The ‘Wartime President’ was out of his league:
Suddenly, in March, Trump seemed to get with the program. He was going to be a ‘Wartime President’. He was going to save America from the coronavirus. Then, Americans, and the world, watched in horror as every one of those daily Coronavirus Taskforce Committee briefings devolved into a hot mess. The scientists would say one thing, and then Trump would say the opposite.
Sadly, Trump knows nothing. He knows nothing about anything. Turns out he is not a very stable genius at all. The way that Trump pushed his medical experts aside to keep the spotlight on himself was truly shocking. Unlike most other world leaders who subjected themselves to the advice of their medical experts, Trump seemed to believe that he knew more. Trump needs to be at the center of attention or he takes his toys and goes home.
So what did Trump do with his spectacular lack of knowledge? In general, he just made everything worse.
We witnessed major corporations praised for accepting large government contracts to produce medical supplies. How philanthropic of them! In fairness, procuring supplies through private contractors are how things are currently done. That was not the problem. The problem was that Trump was using these contracts for self-promotion and acting like he had negotiated good deals. Spoiler: this strategy has not solved the shortfall in medical supplies, so the deals could not have been that great.
We saw Trump mobilize medical services like setting up temporary hospitals and facilitating test sites. This was a good effort, but They remained mostly unused. It is unclear why the extra beds were not required, but it probably was due to the lockdown, which temporarily slowed the spread. In the end, the unused medical resources were used to score political points against Governor Cuomo of New York.
Most frightening of all, Trump demanded that schools, churches, and factories re-open. He spread misinformation such as “children are almost immune“. When his taskforce advised Americans to wear masks, Trump said not to bother. A study from Cornell University named Trump as the world’s biggest driver of Covid-19 misinformation.
Once the economy re-opened, cases started to spike.
Trump lost interest in Covid-19:
Trump’s enthusiasm for thwarting the spread of Covid-19 ended that fateful day when he foolishly suggested that disinfectant and strong UV light could kill the virus. It was the stuff of memes.
Within days, Trump changed course. Apparently, this coronavirus thing wasn’t working for him anymore. People were laughing, and dying, and mad at Trump while they died. The economy was tanking. Many of Trump’s supporters were spreading conspiracy theories. Trump helped everything go wrong by promoting conspiracy theories himself.
Suddenly Trump was over being a ‘Wartime President’. Perhaps he thought his ratings were bad, or maybe he just got bored. Trump had no more time to worry about Covid-19 when he had an election to try and win.
Apparently deciding to just ignore the pandemic, Trump rolled back testing, decided to sacrifice your Grandma to the God of Filthy Lucre, and started to shift responsibility away from himself. After all, Jared had told him that Covid-19 was a blue state problem.
How do we know this? Again, Trump has no inside voice and he told everyone.
“So, I said to my people, slow the testing down”Trump
That’s right, Trump bragged that he slowed the testing down.
Despite Trump’s aides and his team of sycophantic pundits attempting to perform damage control by claiming that Trump was joking, Trump doubled down and confirmed that he does not kid. There was no joke.
Trump is what went wrong:
In terms of protecting Americans from the global pandemic, Trump failed at every possible level. Instead of truly worrying about people, Trump spent most of his efforts on grooming his image and posturing as a savior. The result is that many thousands of people have needlessly died. Furthermore, Trump created a climate where a large percentage of Americans do not even believe that Covid-19 is real–or if it is real, it certainly is not as bad as the medical experts claim.
Thanks to Trump–the largest source of Covid-19 misinformation, as many as 38% of Americans believe that the death rate has been highly exaggerated. That is a tragedy. People are dying.
Among the most widely believed Covid conspiracies is that the death rate of the virus, which according to the Johns Hopkins University tracker has so far killed nearly 1.1 million people worldwide, has been “deliberately and greatly exaggerated”. Nearly 60% of respondents in Nigeria said this was definitely or probably true, along with more than 40% in Greece, South Africa, Poland and Mexico. About 38% of Americans, 36% of Hungarians, 30% of Italians and 28% of Germans felt the same.The Guardian
Decades from now, academics will analyze Trump’s actions and measure them against the outcomes of this pandemic. It will not be flattering for Trump. The studies will reveal that a stupid and self-absorbed man somehow was elected President of the United States, and that the whole world suffered needless death and destruction due to his incompetence.