North Texas Daily

Trump’s coronavirus response puts everyone at risk

Trump’s coronavirus response puts everyone at risk

Trump’s coronavirus response puts everyone at risk
March 26
01:00 2020

In 2003, when former president George W. Bush met with Dr. Anthony Fauci to discuss the outbreak of severe acute respiratory syndrome (SARS), he immediately took action to contain the virus by signing an executive order to quarantine infected patients before the virus could spread further and put American lives at risk. His successor, President Barack Obama, took action to contain the 2014 Ebola outbreak both domestically and internationally during his second term in office by deploying the National Guard and Reserve forces to build treatment centers and train healthcare workers. Now, as the World Health Organization declares COVID-19 to be an international pandemic with more than 46,000 cases confirmed across the U.S., current President Donald Trump and his administration should be taking similar actions to contain the virus and ensure accessible care for those already infected. 

Unfortunately, Trump instead wasted the time he should have spent preparing for a pandemic by playing the blame game. He dismissed the virus as a “new hoax,” at his rallies and accused the press, or the “Fake News Media” as he so called them in a tweet earlier this month, of inflaming the situation to undermine his presidency. Washington Post photographer Jabin Botsford caught Trump crossing out “coronavirus” and writing “Chinese virus” in its place with a black Sharpie marker before a March 19 coronavirus task force briefing at the White House, despite WHO’s warnings about the xenophobic stigma that location-centric labels perpetuate.

Even now as Trump attempts to take a more serious approach and downplay his initial dismissiveness of the situation, it seems he is unable to stop himself from spreading misinformation that understates the extent of the crisis and overestimates the amount of resources available to combat it. He claims that “anybody who wants a test can get a test,” yet even those with a doctor’s order have difficulty accessing the testing they so urgently need. The shortage of tests could mean the total number of cases in the U.S. is being underestimated, not blown out of proportion as Trump portrays it to be which is keeping people dangerously in the dark about the full extent of the virus’ spread.

Trump has also falsely claimed that chloroquine and hydroxychloroquine, which are meant to treat malaria and have often been prescribed to patients with Lupus, should be used to treat the coronavirus despite little evidence supporting the claim and high risks surrounding the medications in question. The drugs are now being hoarded by people who mistakenly believe Trump’s false claims, while patients who actually need the medication are unable to get refills as a result of the ensuing panic, according to the Associated Press. Even worse, an Arizona man has died while his wife remains in critical care for self-medicating with an aquarium additive that contained chloroquine in an attempt to prevent themselves from contracting the virus. Trump’s falsehoods have fatal consequences and they will only further contribute to the panic surrounding this pandemic.

The coronavirus would have hit the U.S. with or without Trump sitting in the Oval Office, but by dismissing the pandemic as a hit to his public image instead of a public health crisis by downplaying the severity of the situation and using his platform as president to play doctor while real medical professionals fall short on supplies, Trump puts the entire country at risk as the virus continues to spread. Instead of telling people that testing is available when it remains difficult to obtain, he should take the necessary measures to obtain more tests. Instead of leaving it up to governors to lock down their respective states, he should make social distancing mandatory so the entire country can be on the same page when it comes to containing the virus. Instead of spreading misinformation that in turn takes lives, he should start mandating the production of more respirators to save lives.

Both of Trump’s predecessors dealt with outbreaks of disease during their presidencies, but instead of following in their footsteps to take action, Trump has badly botched his response to the crisis that is still currently unfolding.

Featured Illustration: Ryan Gossett

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Audrey Vieira

Audrey Vieira

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