By rushing the end of confinement in such a disorderly fashion, Donald Trump has proved to be rash and irresponsible. The number of new COVID-19 cases is climbing once again.
On Feb. 28, when the COVID-19 pandemic was growing in Europe, and the United States only had a few cases, Donald Trump declared that the virus would disappear as if by a miracle with spring’s arrival. Four months later, however, not only has that miracle not happened, but the country is experiencing a worrying resurgence of cases.
With 40,000 new cases each day, the pandemic which has already caused 127,000 deaths and infected more than 2.3 million people, seems to be doubling in intensity. The situation is even more alarming because the number of infected people who have not been tested is likely 10 times greater than the published statistics, according to Robert Redfield, director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. At the momen, Europe, where the virus is still circulating, seems to have taken control of the situation, while the first world power is struggling to curb the pandemic.
And it’s not for lack of warning. Having left China in January, the disease spread worldwide from the east to the west, reaching Europe in February. American authorities could have taken advantage of the situation by learning from the countries that had already confronted the virus earlier.
This unfortunately was not the case. New York, the first state to fall victim to the virus, paid a heavy price with a mortality rate four times that of France’s. This reality should have set off an alarm, but instead of a widespread mobilization of resources to benefit public health efforts, President Trump, obsessed with being reelected come November, wanted to prioritize reviving the economy above all else.
Trump didn’t stop his push to speed up ending confinement, deriding the states most affected at the beginning of the pandemic because they were all governed by his Democratic adversaries, and encouraging protesters to “liberate” the states most reluctant to reopen their economies. Today, the virus is ironically spreading in the states that were quick to ease up on restrictions and neglect the safety measures proposed by health authorities. Many of these states have Republican governors who, just like in Texas, are forced to once again impose social distancing measures and close businesses and restaurants, at the risk of undermining public confidence and putting an end to a fledgling economic recovery.
Despite the pandemic’s rebound, Trump is still in denial. According to Trump, the reason the United States has so many COVID-19 cases is because it tests for infection. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please!’” Trump said, another comment that confirms his reckless approach because testing remains the only way to control the spread of the virus.
Without a doubt, the American president has failed as a leader when faced with a major public health crisis. By using the pandemic for his own political gain, he has exacerbated division, undermined public health messaging and disrupted coordination between states.
This uptick in cases is bad news for both the health of Americans as well as their economy. Such a disorderly rush to end confinement means Trump risks losing on both fronts. The polls also show that for the first time, he’s losing the support of a part of his base.
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