Government’s response to coronavirus exacerbates the crisis

Trump and his Coronavirus Task Team address reporters at a daily press briefing.

Courtesy of Hollywood Reporter

Trump and his Coronavirus Task Team address reporters at a daily press briefing.

December, January, February, March. For four months, the coronavirus (COVID-19) has steadily spread from its original epicenter, Wuhan China. It has affected 196 countries, threatened the health of millions, and upended the lives of billions. 

Now, the World Health Organization (WHO) announced that the United States will inevitably become the global epicenter of the pandemic, which is especially concerning, given the fact that President Donald Trump’s administration is ignoring our nation’s leading health experts and seems to be more preoccupied with the economy and his re-election than saving the lives of millions. 

Courtesy of
The U.S. has surpassed both Italy and China as the global epicenter of the disease.

The first case of coronavirus in the U.S. was confirmed on Jan. 21 in Washington, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) responded by instituting health screenings at airports, searching for measures to cure and prevent the disease’s transmission, and enacting faculty and research at its Emergency Operations Center. 

While the CDC ostensibly provided a proactive response to the U.S.’s first reported case of COVID-19, our nation’s political leaders have been more concerned with mitigating the economic effects than preparing our nation of over 327 million people for a pandemic that would threaten the health of millions. 

In our modern, highly interconnected and globalized world, the spread of disease can happen almost instantaneously. With a virus of this caliber, an ineffective and slow response can truly prove to be fatal. Even Italy, who almost immediately instituted an lockdown, became an epicenter that surpassed China for number of people affected by the virus. Unfortunately for Americans, the Trump administration’s proposed solutions have been unacceptable, contradictory, and frankly, nonexistent. 

Trump largely ignored the coronavirus, even as the death rate was increasing in China and reports of the disease were spreading beyond China’s borders. Instead of actually doing anything to prevent such an outbreak in the U.S., Trump praised Chinese President Xi Jinping’s efforts to combat the virus, even though Jinping himself played down the magnitude of coronavirus. 

However, Trump said on March 17 that he was well aware of the extent and severity of the coronavirus, and of its possible repercussions on the U.S. This statement totally contradicted his previous nonchalant, no-big-deal attitude toward the virus. 

“This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic,” Trump said at a press conference. “All you had to do was look at other countries.” 

I have no words. This is just so egregiously wrong, incompetent, and negatory. If Trump knew that it would become a pandemic so early on, as he claimed, then why didn’t he do anything about it? Why didn’t he develop a proactive, effective plan to prevent coronavirus from festering in our country? Why did he just let it transmit? With his self-proclaimed foresight, he could have prevented the inauspicious numbers we see today: more than 80,000 confirmed cases and more than 1,100 deaths in the U.S. In Illinois, there are more than 2,500 cases and 26 deaths. 

On Jan. 29, Trump drafted the Coronavirus Task Force to coordinate and control U.S. federal policy toward COVID-19, led by Vice President Mike Pence and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar. 

This task force may be one of the most dysfunctional committees I have ever seen. All the members contradict each other, and they obviously have no idea what they are talking about or dealing with. The Trump administration and the Coronavirus Task Force are responsible for refusing test kits provided by the WHO and from Germany. They are also at fault for keeping infected people quarantined on cruise ships instead of immediately deboarding them and transporting them to a hospital. 

Plus, the administration’s reluctance to shut down American industry and business has left the virus and its effects to be dealt with by state governments, who lack the power, funds, and resources necessary to effectively curb its growth. 

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo has been especially outspoken in his criticism of Trump’s handling of the virus and his refusal to declare a national emergency, which would supply states with much-needed money and resources. As of 9:15 a.m. on March 25, New York City alone had 16,788 cases and has become a major epicenter of the coronavirus within the U.S.. 

Courtesy of the New York Times
As the virus spreads among the American population, hospitals are becoming overwhelmed, such as the hospital pictured above in New York.

Individual states have had to declare state emergencies and request aid from the federal government, but these requests have largely fallen upon deaf ears. Several states have declared lockdowns, including New York, Illinois, California, and Washington, where the virus has had the largest impact. All nonessential businesses have been shuttered and citizens have been ordered to remain at home as much as possible. Citizens have been encouraged to practice social distancing, hand-washing, and other healthy habits to prevent the transmission of the virus. 

“I’ve been social distancing and washing my hands super frequently,” said Raina Jain, junior. “My parents are doctors so our family has been sanitizing everything in the house as well.”

Just as the nation’s affliction with the coronavirus has become more serious, the Trump administration has adopted a more lenient approach. They rejected any pleas to declare a nationwide lockdown that countries such as Italy and China have instituted, and stressed how the U.S. will be “open for business” after only a 15-day quarantine period. 

Trump has repeatedly undermined the findings of health professionals, denying the fact that the coronavirus could impact us for three to four more months, possibly longer. Trump just wants to salvage the economy to help his re-election bid, even though it may come at the cost of thousands of lives. How typical of Trump—once again, his narcissism completely overshadows the needs of the American people. 

If Trump and his cronies continue to refute our nation’s health experts, the credibility of organizations such as the CDC will disintegrate. Yes, providing aid to our economy is important, but the lives of Americans should come first, no matter the cost. 

Which brings me to my next point. Congress, especially the Senate, is split over how to best address the health and economic crises and seems unable to reach a consensus despite days of negotiations. The longer they take to make an agreement, the longer American citizens have to wait to receive aid, assistance, and unemployment insurance from their government. While they have made some progress and have agreed on some details of a relief package, the ability and willingness of senators to overcome partisan prejudices will be tested in a vote Wednesday

For our nation to successfully combat this virus, we need to present a united front and listen to health experts. The American people need to be able to trust the information they are being fed, and need to be protected from this invisible attacker. Any and all measures need to be taken to ensure the health of Americans, and to prevent the loss of more lives—no matter the cost. Because after all, it’s better to be safe than sorry.