Trump’s pandemic botchery must be his undoing

Trump’s pandemic botchery must be his undoing
President Donald J. Trump speaks with laboratory personnel during a tour Monday, July 27, 2020, at the Bioprocess Innovation Center at Fujifilm Diosynth Biotechnologies in Morrisville, N.C. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead)
Election '20

Donald Trump has willfully botched our national response to this pandemic. We have lost over 150,000 American lives over the past five months and all Trump can say is, “We are in the process of developing a strategy.”

Another lie. Trump's plan has been in plain view from the very beginning: to deny, to scapegoat, to gaslight, and to kill.

Trump decided early on that losing American lives to COVID-19 was palatable and even preferable to acknowledging the devastating and deadly force of this pandemic. He did not want his re-election chances to be hurt by an economic downturn due to the virus. So, in January and February Trump did not heed at least 12 warnings from governmental agencies about the impending pandemic. His public statements to us were dismissive mistruths: “We have it totally under control,” “It’s going to be just fine,” and “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus…this is their new hoax.”

Trump was warned about the worldwide pandemic, but he responded reflexively by focusing on his own political calculations, not the country's welfare.

Trump further botched the pandemic by announcing that the federal government would be “backup” to the states' efforts. In other words, there was not going to be a formal national strategy for fending off and defeating the worst pandemic in 100 years. Each governor was left alone to compete with one another for PPE's, ventilators, testing kits, money, and other necessities. It was chaotic and confusing and a recipe for catastrophic failure.

Yet Trump wanted to take credit and receive praise for his oversight during that time. He bragged that he was the “King of Ventilators.” He claimed that “anybody that wants a test can get a test.” He boasted that some governors voiced “appreciation” to him during a conference call. Trump was purposefully doing nothing about the pandemic, Americans were losing their lives every day, and all he could think about was garnering adoration and political points.

Trump insisted on the re-opening of the economy, although our public health experts warned that it was too soon.

Trump did not care.

He knows that his re-election fate rests in the hands of a revived economy. The result is that there have been major surges of COVID-19 in multiple states around the country. Our infection and death numbers are growing. The virus is not contained. Things are as bad now as before.  Trump erroneously claimed that the economy is much better, saying, “Biggest stock market increase since 1974.” Then he lied and told us that the virus had been reduced to “ashes,” and that it will magically “just disappear” very soon. His latest lie is that the virus will simply “fade away.” And he has repeatedly asserted that the infection numbers would dwindle if we would just stop doing mass testing for it.

Now Trump is clamoring for all schools to open because this would be another reflection that normalcy has been established. But public health experts are arguing against opening schools too soon. The virus is still raging in many communities. If children get infected at school, they will take the virus home with them endangering their parents and their grandparents. More and more infections in children will make matters even worse.

Trump revived his pandemic press briefings last week, signaling at least a recognition that COVID-19 is not being contained throughout the country.

Did he announce a new national strategy for beating the pandemic? No. Is he relying on his public health experts for their recommendations? No. In other words, nothing has changed.

Trump's lack of a national plan for this pandemic represents an unforgivable sin in leadership. He continues to blame anyone and everyone for his abysmal failure, ranging from China to Barack Obama to Anthony Fauci. When blaming others does not work, Trump resorts to his old friend: gaslighting.

Donald Trump is an accessory to mass murder. This is his pandemic and these are his American deaths. The virus is the killer, but Trump could have stopped it largely in its tracks had he attended to it in January and February.  He chose not to. He made a deliberate and calculated decision to allow the coronavirus to flourish.  All because he was focused on his re-election path and his self-preservation.

Keep this in mind: if we had started social distancing on March 1, we could have saved at least 56,000 lives. How many could we have saved if we had started in January or February? And if nothing changes going forward, we will have at least 200,000 American deaths by Election Day.

Trump is unfit to be president. He is a clear and present danger to all Americans. His botchery of this pandemic shows him to be inept, self-absorbed, and dishonest.

It must be his undoing on November 3.

Alan D. Blotcky, PhD is a clinical psychologist in Birmingham, Alabama.

H. Steven Moffic, MD is a psychiatrist in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.

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