We knew a pandemic was coming, and we could have been ready for it.
“Exploring Lessons Learned from a Century of Outbreaks: Readiness for 2030“ was published on May 8, 2019, just a few months before COVID-19 broke out in Wuhan, China. The report discussed the many lessons learned from previous influenzas, SARS, and coronavirus related pandemics and how countries can further prepare themselves for such events in the future. Through the many conferences, expert panelists gathered information from the top doctors and scientists who delivered their insights on new measures countries should begin utilizing.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, the United States currently has 5,799,046 total cases of COVID-19, and of those, 178,998 are deaths. Needless to say, the United States’ initial response to the novel coronavirus was poor.
The president of the United States, Donald J. Trump, underestimated the dangers of the novel coronavirus’s rate of spread and harm. His lack of warning and preparing the American population caused panic and chaos to erupt across the country. The president’s act of reassuring people by understating the dangers made them believe that there was nothing to be worried about. But the number of cases began increasing, and so did the number of deaths.
Trump had said, “It’s just like the flu,” but researchers like Francois Balloux, Professor of Computational Systems Biology at the University College London, told Science Alert that the virus’s rate of death is roughly 20 times higher than the seasonal flu. This indicates that although the symptoms of the flu and novel coronavirus are alike, COVID-19 is definitely deadlier.
Disease experts also say on Science Alert, that the COVID-19 reproduction rate is twice as high as the seasonal flu. This displays the most significant difference between the two; COVID-19 is more contagious as those infected can spread it more rapidly to others. The President’s lack of recognizing the high transmission rate of the virus allowed for an increase of cases within a short period, making it a full fledged outbreak.
Due to Trump’s status and authority as President, people were likely to believe his words as he delivered the false information that the coronavirus is just like the flu, and this is now tragically evidenced in the current egregious death toll and case numbers for the US.
President Trump has no excuse for underestimating the dangers of COVID-19. He had received numerous memos, reports, and precautions about the new deadly coronavirus; however, he refused to warn the public about the dangers and set necessary precautions.
President Trump was warned in January that coronavirus could kill hundreds of thousands of Americans and “derail the economy, unless tough action were taken immediately,” according to The Guardian.
This indicates that our president was clearly notified about the potential risk on American lives and our economy during the beginning of the coronavirus outbreak; yet, he did not alert the American people.
The president’s delivering of false information led to chaos and panic in the nation, a death toll 50 times greater than that of the 9-11 attacks, and around 20 million unemployed Americans, as reported by the Bureau of Labor Statistics, which, according to History, surpasses the number of unemployed Americans at the worst point of the Great Depression.
Furthermore, thanks to lack of leadership from the President, the primary response from the United States was slow and hesitant as no precautions were issued. Trump’s initial response to the first novel coronavirus case was reassuring to the public, but he was untruthful as he continued to post numerous obnoxious and misleading Twitter posts about how great the United States is doing.
According to the New York Times, it took six weeks before President Trump finally took action to confront the danger COVID-19 posed to the nation.
Trump was unable to take responsibility and correctly inform the nation about the threat of the novel coronavirus as he saw that the US was “doing great” because there were so few cases, when in fact the exponential infections were just getting started.
Consequently, Americans were quickly hit since they were not informed to take precautions. This resulted in overflowing hospitals with more patients than the number of hospital beds available as they were desperate for care. When discussing how to prepare for future influenza pandemics, Century of Outbreaks also explains that the same situation happened in the 1918 Influenza Pandemic,
“Since hospitals and clinics in the United States were filled to capacity, giant warehouses were created worldwide and filled with patients.” Today, the United States arranged similar measures as when hospitals were packed, and numerous large warehouses and locations were converted into care centers for COVID-positive patients.
Further, the lack of preparedness and action from Trump resulted in a shortage of medical supplies that were crucial to help treat patients and keep the medical doctors safe from the virus. Our president was also not implementing the requests from government officials and medical workers. The delay in developing tests to identify those who are sick was also slow. Hence, those who may be asymptomatic would not realize and would continue to spread the virus to others unintentionally.
Meanwhile, COVID-19 testing began worldwide while the US was only getting started with their slow response. The Atlantic suggests that the lack of coordination, leadership, and equipment are contributing to the slow process of test development. Furthermore, the measures placed by the US president were too slow and have resulted in numerous consequences regarding the treatment of people who have contracted COVID-19 and skyrocketing demand for personal protective equipment.
Despite President Trump’s poor initial response to the novel coronavirus, he has done some positive actions to combat the virus. For instance, Trump recently tweeted an image of himself finally wearing a mask, which is very positive because it encourages other Americans to wear a mask to reduce the spread of the virus. However, this was too little, too late, three long months after the CDC issued the use of face masks, according to CNN. Trump’s face mask tween was posted on July 11 as The New York Times also explains.
It was suggested by Bloomberg Opinion that our president initially refused to protect himself because of vanity and personal stubbornness. They write, “Trump doesn’t like the way the masks look, or doesn’t like having to wear them.” However, UCSF claims that “health experts say the evidence is clear that masks can help prevent the spread of COVID-19 and that the more people wearing masks, the better.” Therefore, even with access to top information, let alone what is accessible to the public, President Trump only just began wearing masks months after this pandemic began raging in the US.
Another example of a positive action the President has taken against COVID-19 is that he has made the appropriate decision to not attend the Republican National Convention in person. This arrangement was a bold action, and it will decrease the spread of COVID-19 by avoiding a large gathering of people.
However, earlier this summer, Trump did hold his presidential Tulsa rally in an indoor arena, which was shown to be a superspreader of coronavirus in Oklahoma. TIME reports that after the Tulsa rally, the average coronavirus cases went up nearly six times what it was in early April.
Alarmingly, a former presidential candidate who attended the Tulsa rally beside Trump, Herman Cain, tested positive for COVID-19 nine days after the rally. He tragically passed away four days later. When questioned by Yahoo News if he believed that Cain was exposed to the coronavirus from the rally, Trump said, “No I don’t think so”
Although Trump did take some initiative to stop COVID-19, his actions were too late, and hence, not as effective. The US President Donald Trump’s poor response to the novel coronavirus ultimately led to chaos and panic. He also provided Americans with false information and did not respond quickly when he was provided with a clear warning about the tremendous amount of harm it could put on Americans and the US economy.
The nation was not prepared for such a pandemic to occur as there was a lack of medical supplies and support from the President. Furthermore, the initial response to the outbreak was extremely slow as no precautions were put in place. Ultimately, any helpful measures Trump implemented were too late, and his incompetence has already caused and is still causing extreme harm to the United States and its people.