This week has been awful and terrifying, and it has not been at all good for President Donald Trump. It may have been the worst week since he took office. This time, the enemy is not imaginary, but very real and one that the president cannot react to with sarcastic tweets or bomb with drones; nor can he fix the problem with the Republicans’ blind allegiance or fight it with political rallies or red caps. This time, his lies and attempts to cover up the truth have not worked because the coronavirus is here and poses a serious threat to his administration and his reelection.
The disease, which is known scientifically as COVID-19 and has infected more than 100,000 people and killed more than 4,000 in more than 100 countries, has spread to 20 states in the U.S. and Washington, D.C., causing a total of 755 cases as of this Tuesday. However, the president continues to blame the media for exaggerating the situation, despite experts and scientists saying the opposite.
“We cannot deny that the virus is spreading rapidly in this country and that it is becoming a global epidemic,”* said Anthony Fauci, the prestigious doctor and director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases.
However, the head of state’s response to U.S. scientists’ honesty was to sideline them, ban them from giving information or making statements, and appoint Vice President Mike Pence spokesman and government coordinator of the efforts to fight and contain the disease. Pence is not a doctor or anything of the sort. Furthermore, during his time as governor of Indiana, he exacerbated an HIV crisis when, for “moral reasons, ” he delayed the supply of new and clean syringes to drug addicts.
Trump continues to deny the reality that lies ahead, for which neither he − it is common knowledge that he is terrified of germs − nor his administration is prepared. During his three years in office, he has not only considerably reduced the budget for disease control, but the National Security Council’s health department has completely disappeared. That body provided intelligence on health matters in other countries.
The president is showing complete ignorance of the subject: He not only appears bored when doctors talk about it in his presence, but he has also made the scientifically baseless claim, as if he were an expert or God, that the disease will miraculously disappear when the weather gets warmer. And, most incredibly, Trump claims to possess a natural ability for knowing how to solve the problem of the disease because one of his uncles was a nuclear physicist who graduated from MIT.
The president has also assured his compatriots that a vaccine will soon be ready and that, currently, anyone who wants to can be tested to find out if they have the virus. None of this is true; it was refuted by the health authorities.
Barely a month ago, his chances of reelection and remaining in the White House for another four years seemed very high: the economy was doing better than ever, his administration had signed agreements with the Taliban, and he was about to end U.S. involvement in the war in Afghanistan. And, most importantly, everything seemed to indicate that his Democratic opponent would be socialist Bernie Sanders, who would be easy to defeat. But none of this is turning out to be the case.
In his supporters’ eyes, the Trump administration has handled the threat of the coronavirus very well by restricting the travel of its citizens to countries where the virus has spread. But as far as his opponents are concerned, everything has been done incorrectly from the outset, when 14 infected U.S. citizens who had been on a Japanese cruise ship were repatriated together with 300 healthy passengers.
Trump is very effective when he has a human enemy to attack, but things are not working for him now that the enemy is an invisible biological assassin. Many believe him, and are fully within their rights to do so, but one has to question if they are blind for not admitting that there is a reason why Italy, which has a population of 60 million and is one of the biggest global economies, has closed itself off to the world, forbidding anyone to enter or leave the country. This is an emergency situation, the likes of which has not been seen since World War II.
*Editor’s note: This quotation, accurately translated, could not be verified.