GUEST COLUMN: Trump’s virus failures equal a $2 trillion train wreck
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In response to Congressman Dunn's op-ed "Trump has led aggressive response" (News Herald 3/25/20), there is overwhelming evidence that President Trump's early handling of the coronavirus disaster was both incompetent and deceptive.
With thousands of Americans sick, millions out of work, people dying and the whole nation simultaneously confronting our mortality, Congress and Dunn are discussing an unprecedented $2 trillion bailout. This bailout would add almost 10% to our already staggering national debt of $23 trillion.
In terms of Trump's response, it will take a lot of lipstick to make this pig look pretty.
Contrary to Dunn's loyal partisan flattery, the timeline of facts demonstrates that Trump underestimated the risk, mishandled the early response and attempted to deceive the American public.
Once upon a time in the Land of Truth, the departing Obama administration in 2016 tried to warn the incoming Trump officials that infectious diseases and pandemics were a serious national security risk. A pandemic occurred in 2009 with the swine flu and Ebola, another deadly infectious disease, was contained between 2014-16.
When Obama left office, there was an official job in the office of the National Security Council entitled the "Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense." The purpose of the job was to inform the president and the national security staff about impending pandemic diseases and biological threats. Trump's NSC eliminated this specific federal job.
His first NSC adviser, Michael Flynn, is in jail for lying. General H. R. McMaster was fired for acknowledging the overwhelming evidence of Russian help for Trump's election efforts. John Bolton is famous for describing the Ukrainian phone call and presidential shakedown as a "hand grenade." The latest NSC Advisor, Robert O'Brien, has learned it's best to echo Trump's narrative. On Feb. 2, he said Americans have no "reason to panic." Now, he criticizes China for hiding the virus for two months.
In reality, the CV-19 was ravaging Wuhan China in December 2019.
Unfortunately, Trump's administration terminated the embedded epidemiologist that our Center for Disease Control (CDC) had traditionally placed within the Chinese version of their CDC. Reports show that the Trump administration terminated the position of American epidemiologist, Dr. Linda Quick, who left her job in China in July 2019.
On Dec. 30, 2019, the heroic Chinese doctor Li Wenliang reported the sudden surge in serious viral infections on the Chinese equivalent of Facebook. How can our National Security Advisor and our entire intelligence staff reasonably claim that they were unaware of a disease known to millions of Chinese through public social media?
Dunn attempts to amplify Trump's effort to re-write history by suggesting that Trump bravely and effectively imposed a "bold" travel ban. Well, obviously, the so-called travel ban did not work.
The travel ban was riddled with holes to the point of obviously being ineffective. The Trump travel ban on travelers from China was not imposed until Jan. 31 and only applied to foreign nationals. American citizens and residents were allowed to enter the United States with only a screening for symptoms. Symptomatic Americans were advised to self-isolate and minimize contact. American travelers from China were likely just as infectious as foreign nationals.
The first case of CV-19 reported to the CDC occurred on Jan. 19, 2020. Insufficient efforts were made to prevent community spread of the virus and it now threatens Americans in all 50 states.
Instead of focusing on tracing the paths of infectious Americans and travelers who had returned from China, Trump notoriously minimized the threat of CV-19. On Jan. 22, Trump claimed to have the virus "totally under control." On Feb. 26, Trump opined without any scientific basis that the virus would diminish from 15 people to non-existent. On March 10, Trump offered his opinion that "It will go away. Just stay calm. It will go away."
This timeline shows that the disease was widely known by early January 2020. Trump's incompetence at the management of the National Security Council left our nation under-prepared for a pandemic. Trump's deception from early January until the stock market began crashing on March 9 clearly shows that contrary to Dunn's assertion President Trump was not “taking every measure necessary to protect the health and safety of the American people."
Trump just wants to get re-elected. To that end, he is willing to distort the truth, call names, deflect responsibility and ignore the science. Sadly, Congressman Dunn has signed up for that myopic goal.
Still, it's going to take a lot of lipstick to make a $2 trillion train wreck look good.
Alvin Peters is an attorney residing in Panama City.