It may be years before we know the whole story about the spread of COVID-19 in the United States. By Easter weekend, there were nearly 500,000 total cases. Over 18,700 people had died.
On a per capita basis, we rank seventh in the world. In total number of cases we are first. With the expertise and resources we have to fight infectious diseases, how is that possible?
The answer is a combination of insufficient and ineffective test kits, interagency red tape and public officials who misled us and downplayed the severity of the problem. One of those officials is our president:
Jan. 22 — President Donald Trump says he is not worried about COVID-19, it is "totally under control."
Feb. 10 — Trump says “We’re in great shape in our country.”
Feb. 25 — Speaking of the virus, Trump says it is “very well under control in our country.”
Two administration officials, Peter Navarro and Alex Azar, tried to inform Trump about the problem in January, but he largely ignored them. Later that month, however, the president imposed travel restrictions to China. Since then, nearly 40,000 people have arrived here from China, including thousands from Wuhan, the center of the outbreak.
Testing for infection has been a serious problem in the U.S. in spite of the president’s assertion on March 6 that “Anybody that wants a test can get a test.” Another false claim.
In fact, it was a question about testing that elicited the following from Trump, a sentence that sums up his approach to the entire crisis: “No, I don’t take responsibility at all.”
Presidents are largely identified by the crises that occur during their administration — Abraham Lincoln and the Civil War, Franklin Roosevelt and the Great Depression. Trump will be remembered for his disastrous response to COVID-19, a response that can only be described as tragic.