The absence of US presidential leadership in the face of a global pandemic has left people feeling:
b) Unconcerned because they haven’t yet felt the impact personally and Trump has said everything will be ok; or
c) Concerned but helpless because they don’t think they can make a difference.
I can’t do anything about the individuals in category b). Among them are those whom Trump had in mind when he said he could shoot someone on Fifth Avenue and not lose their support. Because of his incompetence, he will have the blood many American coronavirus victims on his hands.
Unparalleled Presidential Malfeasance
In 2018, Trump dissolved President Obama’s pandemic response team, which had been created to deal with the crisis we now face. When pressed on the decision last week, Trump said, “I don’t take responsibility at all.”
As people were dying in China and the World Health Organization was sounding the alarm, Trump proclaimed that the coronavirus was a “Democrat hoax” — just like Trump-Russia and impeachment. He was 0-for-3 on that assertion.
Trump preferred that infected Americans aboard a cruise ship be left at sea because he didn’t want them to add to the total number of coronavirus cases in the US. “I like the numbers where they are,” he said. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault. And it wasn’t the fault of the people on the ship either, okay? It wasn’t their fault either and they’re mostly Americans. So, I can live either way with it. I’d rather have them stay on, personally.”
Trump unilaterally announced a travel ban that has created chaos and long lines of citizens waiting hours to clear customs at airports, which have become petri dishes for the virus. His xenophobic actions will spread the virus, not slow it.
After declaring a national emergency on Friday, Mar. 13 — complete with lies about Google’s supposed work on a nationwide screening website — he could have set an example for hygiene and social interaction that every citizen should follow. Instead, he shook hands, patted backs, or touched the microphone at the White House lectern 31 times — the very behaviors that the CDC had advised against to stop the spread of the virus. As for social distancing, forget about it.
If the nation doesn’t succeed in “flattening the curve” of coronavirus cases, the US hospital system will become overwhelmed. People who need respirators to survive and recover won’t get them. For an example of medical triage separating those who will live from those who are turned away, look at what’s happening in Italy. The criteria for admission into intensive care units has moved from “first come, first served” to “who has the best chance for survival.” Using that standard, I would not fare well.
But according to every health expert, every individual can make a profound difference in slowing the spread of the virus. Here’s how:
First and foremost: Stay at home. Other than walks to remain healthy, don’t leave home unless you have an essential reason for doing so.
Wash your hands. Do it frequently and correctly. That means using soap and water for 20 seconds — a lot longer than most people typically do — “especially after you have been in a public place, or after blowing your nose, coughing, or sneezing,” according to the CDC.
Don’t shake hands. The virus spreads through contact. Handshakes are the opposite of social distancing. Here’s a vivid illustration of the difference that social distancing can make:
True social distancing. Even people who show no symptoms of the coronavirus can spread it. Here are recommendations from the Center for Health Security at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health:
- Avoid going to places where 25 or more people may gather (Update: Don’t go where 10 or more people may gather);
- Go places where you can maintain at least six feet of distance from other people;
- Keep in mind your personal risk: If you’re 60 years old and up or have a compromised immune system, you should stay home as much as possible.
No one can achieve 100% social distancing. But if everyone tries, the most vulnerable among us will have a better chance to survive.
By the way, here is a list of the latest updates to the Trump-Russia Timeline at Dan Rather’s News & Guts and Just Security. When the coronavirus crisis ends — as it eventually will — the Trump-Russia story will return.
AUG. 26, 2019: On Ukraine Aid, ‘Final Decision Rests with POTUS’
DEC. 5, 2019: Burr Warns Grassley and Graham About Biden Investigations
REVISED: FEB. 13-21, 2020: Aide to Acting DNI Maguire Gives Briefing to Congress on Election Security; Trump is Reportedly Furious, Replaces Maguire with Loyalist Grenell; Other High-Ranking ODNI Officials Depart
FEB. 26, 2020: Trump Sues NY Times
FEB. 28, 2020: Appeals Court Rules House Can’t Sue to Enforce McGahn’s Subpoena
MAR. 1, 2020: Republican Senators Subpoena Burisma Witness
MAR. 2, 2020: Former Nunes’ Aide Promoted to Top Intelligence Post at NSC
MAR. 2, 2020: Top Government Officials Issue Warning About Election Interference
MAR. 4, 2020: Senate Republicans Pursue Burisma
MAR. 5, 2020: Judge Says Barr’s ‘Lack of Candor’ and ‘Distortions’ of Mueller Report ‘Call Into Question’ the Credibility of the Justice Dept.’s Redactions
MAR. 6, 2020: Trump Sues CNN