President Donald Trump is responsible for America’s unfolding coronavirus disaster, according to an opinion piece published by The Washington Post on July 6.
Columnist Michael Gerson said in the article that the US is entering dangerous, uncharted territory, urging Trump to fulfill his role in response to the pandemic.
With a little more than 4 percent of the world’s population, the US now has about 25 percent of coronavirus infections. Over the past five months, more Americans have lost their lives to this disease (137,000 and counting) than died in World War I (116,516).
Gerson warned that exponential growth of 3 million infections can quickly surge to 10 million and higher, and even a relatively low fatality rate could easily leave more than half a million Americans dead.
The article pointed out two problems brought by the pandemic in the country. First, following COVID-19’s assault on the body, a significant number of younger people will end up with long-term health complications.
“President Trump’s claim that 99 percent of COVID-19 cases are ‘totally harmless’ is a cruel lie,” he said, adding that researchers have warned of lingering damage to the brain.
Second, allowing the exponential spread of the disease will eventually make protecting the vulnerable an impossible task. “All our islands of safety for the ill and elderly are endangered when the sea level of infection rapidly rises.”
The author argued that Trump is responsible for the national disaster, calling him a “determined and creative ally of the virus”, as he not only endorsed a strategy for gradual, prudent reopening in mid-April but also undercut governors for his own benefit instead of encouraging them to continue shutdowns.
Noting the fact that the successful control of infectious disease is ultimately a matter of individual behavior, the author stressed the importance of “a consistent message from all the commanding heights of a culture”, namely the medical profession, the government, the church and the media.
During the coronavirus crisis, although the medical profession has provided facts, “the government (see Trump), the church (see Trump’s evangelical enablers) and the media (see Fox News and talk radio) have encouraged broad skepticism about essential health measures”, creating a right-wing constituency for preventable death.
Putting forward two options for Americans, Gerson said that either Americans will be rudely jerked toward sanity by the sight of rapidly filling graves, or leaders of determination and talent will “rise above the self-destructive strife and make deliverance from illness and death a unifying national cause”.
“The president has left this role vacant. It needs filling,” he concluded.
Echoing Gerson, another opinion piece posted by The New York Times on July 6 said that Trump and those around him led to the failure of America’s war against COVID-19.
In the article titled “How America lost the war on COVID-19”, columnist Paul Krugman suggested that the turning point of the outbreak in the country was on April 17, when Donald Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA,” followed by “LIBERATE MICHIGAN” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA”, in support of protesters demanding an end to the lockdowns.
Moreover, the Trump administration refused to heed the lesson of the initial outbreak centered on New York, ordering premature reopening which made things quickly become very grim over the past three weeks.
The author noted that anti-lockdown demonstrations weren’t spontaneous, grass-roots affairs. “Many were organized and coordinated by conservative political activists, some with close ties to the Trump campaign, and financed in part by right-wing billionaires.”
The main driving force behind reopening, Krugman said, was the administration’s desire to have big job gains leading into November, so that it could boast about economic success.
“The irony is that Trump’s willingness to trade deaths for jobs and political gain has backfired,” he said, stressing the fact that a variety of short-term indicators suggest that growth slowed or even went into reverse soon afterward.
“[W]e lost because Trump and those around him decided that it was in their political interests to let the virus run wild,” Krugman said.