Federal ‘response’ to the coronavirus led to more American deaths, economic problems


Annabel Williamson, Managing Editor

As each president steps onto the Oval Office, there are certain things that must be done to ensure the safety of Americans. One of those things is to always prepare for the worst. The leader of America must be ready for all that could go wrong, such as war, famine, and in this case, a global pandemic.  

Since 2005, The U.S government has been building up defenses against the possibility of a pandemic. The previous Republican President George W. Bush did his part in furthering the government’s ability to respond to a pandemic quickly and efficiently. Bush read John Barry’s book, “The Great Influenza” about the 1918 pandemic, and immediately wanted the U.S. to prepare for the next one, which historically was overdue. He said in an ABC News story, “A pandemic is a lot like a forest fire. If caught early, it might be extinguished with limited damage. If allowed to smolder, undetected, it can grow to an inferno that can spread quickly beyond our ability to control it.”  This was then followed by the pandemic response plan, 12 years before the first case of what would become COVID-19. 

From 2011 to 2015, there were three studies that warned of a severe influenza pandemic as well as the extreme shortage of supplies if a pandemic were to occur. During those studies, President Barack Obama responded to the predictions with a plan for a machine to produce enough respirators to support a nationwide breakout. A year later, before leaving office, the Obama administration handed Trump officials a 69-page pandemic playbook with a plan laid out in case of an outbreak. At this moment, Trump was given the opportunity to stop a pandemic before it even started, yet Trump’s administration ignored it. This was one of the many mistakes Trump has made leading up to the position we are in now, stuck at home with a death toll higher than 87,000 in the United States as of May 15th.

Despite having only about 4.5 percent of the world population, 28 percent of the more than 300,000 reported worldwide COVID deaths have occurred in the United States. While some countries may not be accurately reporting their death totals, it is clear that many nations have done a much better job at stopping the spread of the disease. South Korea, for instance, had its first positive COVID test on the same day as the United States, but only has 300 reported COVID deaths. Many other nations, like Canada, who has fewer than 6,000 deaths, have half the per-capita death rate as the United States. So why is it so much worse in the United States? The U.S. has great hospitals and health care workers, and has many more financial resources than most countries around the globe. The clear answer is leadership. 

Each step of the way, President Trump has made many decisions that have altered the course of the pandemic, and many of these have been poor decisions. Beginning with the playbook in 2016, Trump went on to shut down the modeling of flu pandemics just months after a January 2017 disaster response exercise for the “worst influenza pandemic since 1918.”

After ignoring the multiple warnings about an upcoming outbreak, Trump went on to fire the entire national pandemic response team. This left the government utterly defenseless just a year before the beginning of what would become a worldwide pandemic. 

In addition to getting rid of America’s top defense team against a virus, he completely downplayed the threat of COVID-19. On February 10, when other countries began preparing for the worst, Trump said, “I think the virus is going to be – it’s going to be fine.” 

On February 26, he said at a White House press briefing, “you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero; that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.” A day later, he said, “It’s going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear,” according to CBS News.

Even by March 9th, when it was clear the virus was already spreading in several places within the United States, Trump downplayed its severity and did not warn Americans of the dangers. “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!” 

As the virus spread, instead of ramping up COVID testing, asking Americans to limit social interactions, and explaining the severity of the situation, Trump continued to host campaign rallies and attend meetings, hoping it would go away rather than preparing for the fight against it. Now, only because of massive social distancing measures, we may have avoided most of the projected 2.2 millions deaths that this virus may have caused, but if Trump would have taken it seriously earlier, tens of thousands of lives may have been saved. 

Nevertheless, he continued to put thousands of American’s at risk in a hope of keeping the stock market from plummeting because he was worried about how it could affect the presidential election in November. His continuous ignorance put American lives at risk every single day, yet he takes no responsibility for the damage he has done. 

Let us hope that the American people do not forget how well he protected them come November.