A Guardian Editorial
President Trump was informed of the threat of Covid-19 by his intelligence advisors on January 3, 2020. They told him that the virus would likely come here and that we needed to make immediate preparations. It was suggested that he cut off travel from China. This group of advisors met with the President regularly over the next few weeks trying to convince him of the danger the virus represented. He finally agreed to a partial travel ban against China on January 31st—we were the 40th country at that point to ban travel from China. It was not a complete ban but rather a series of restrictions that allowed 230,000 people to travel here from China over the following 60 days.
In the meantime, Trump did not take any substantial action in preparation for the virus and spent much of January and February claiming it was a “A hoax invented by the Democratic Party and the media.” On February 11th he said that there were only 13 cases in the country at that time and in a week or so they would be gone. On March 11th he changed course and declared the virus a “health crisis”, some 70 days after he first was informed about it. He did not tell the American people how serious it was or take any substantial steps to combat it, but did eventually enlist the help of Dr. Anthony Fauci for updates for the public. He eventually started briefings including Dr. Fauci but soon began to restrict him because his opinions did not support his own “campaign” messages.
Trump left the acquisition of materials such as masks, gowns, testing equipment, ventilators, and hospital supplies up to the states and did not trigger the Defense Production Act which was created for the Federal Government to take that role. As a result, we had massive shortages across the nation and states ended up bidding against each other–which meant they wasted billions of dollars on overpriced goods. As he recently revealed to Bob Woodward, Trump’s comments to the public were inaccurate and untruthful on purpose—he claims he lied to prevent panic, to keep people calm. His complete lack of an intelligent response and his lying has now cost 200,000 lives in the US. Medical experts internationally have rated our response to the pandemic as the “worst in the world among developed countries.” Many experts say Trump lied to the public to protect the economy before the election to help his chances of winning. The media reports that several scientists, including Dr. Jonathan Reiner, estimate that if Trump had instituted only a national mask requirement in early March we would have saved over 150,000 lives.
Sadly, this nightmare of Covid-19 could have been greatly reduced or even prevented. And should have been if Trump had only followed Barack Obama’s plan.
President Obama successfully routed the Ebola pandemic and took the experience which his team used to develop a Pandemic Plan and system (69 pages). His plan included 6 groups of pandemic experts in 6 regional offices of the Centers for Disease Control in each section of the country—the eyes and ears looking out for disease. He installed a Pandemic Czar as part of the National Security Council who could bring together people, scientists and resources very quickly if needed. Unfortunately, because of his jealousy of Obama, during his first year in office Trump threw out all of the staff and the Pandemic Plan which had been carefully assembled to protect us from the next pandemic. Trump did not develop another plan—he still has none. Below is a list of probable Covid-19 activities Obama would have urgently engaged in based on his plan.
After the meeting with intelligence on January 3rd, here’s how Barack Obama would have eliminated Covid-19. In the next 30 days he would have likely done the following according to his plan:
1. Brought together the task force he created to implement the plan and to search for more possible infection sources.
2. Banned travel from China completely.
3. Banned travel from Europe completely (most of the US infections in the Eastern part of the country came from Europe, not China.)
4. Invoked the Defense Production Act and bring in suppliers for masks, gowns, all hospital equipment, and alert hospitals of the virus plan.
5. Brought testing companies together to check the current CDC tests and improve (current test wasn’t valid, needed new versions). Fund development of mass testing needs plus develop instant result tests for airports, hospitals, etc. Locate automatic temperature readers.
6. Set up a tracing system to follow every case as discovered.
7. Created a national mandatory mask and social distancing program, give states guidelines and rules for closing businesses if needed. Ban large group events nationally.
8. Provided regional pandemic experts to advise mayors around the country if they experience hot spots.
9. Promoted the development of a vaccine (long term).
10. Set up a testing program on-site for every airport with international or domestic travel with a tracing system, instant reading tests, and temperature checks.
Kept the American people informed.
With this Pandemic Plan operational, we should have been able to halt the growth of Covid-19 and eliminate the virus entirely by the end of March. Remember, on February 11th we only had 13 cases, but Trump grossly underestimated how they could grow and ignored the bigger picture. And consider this–Hillary Clinton would have followed the Plan and so would have Joe Biden because they knew how good it was.
Since February 11th we have gone from 13 cases in the US to 6.5 million cases. Trump has taken none of the steps outlined above in the Pandemic Plan, which you can view on Politico. There is no evidence of any current Trump Covid-19 plan at all or any signs of development of a new one. If Trump simply took the steps outlined in the Obama plan starting now—even though it is very late—it would still save lives and speed up the demise of the virus.
Is it ignorance or indifference? Our economy and lifestyles can’t recover until we get control of the virus spread.
Why are we suffering unnecessarily from the terrible personal and economic effects of Covid-19? Because of the decisions of one man who refused using tools that would have saved us since he hated the person who created them. How many lives will it cost? How many families will it disrupt? How many businesses will it destroy? What will the ultimate cost be? All Trump had to do was to implement the Obama Pandemic Plan in January and leave the people in place who would have managed it. The hard work of determining what to do had been done.
Trump and Trump alone has caused the massive suffering resulting from Covid-19 in America. It didn’t have to happen.
This editorial has been published as a public service by The Guardians of Democracy, a national political newsletter which has been published daily for 4 years. The guardians parent company, Miami Media, LLC, based in Naples, Florida, paid for this editorial. The Guardian is completely independent, not affiliated with any political party or campaign.