Trump On Virus Response: “We Have Done A Job The Likes Of Which Nobody's Seen."
President Donald Trump said during Friday’s White House press briefing that his administration has “done a job the likes of which nobody's seen” in handling the coronavirus, which has now infected more than 100,000 Americans and resulted in more than 1,500 deaths.
Experts and laypersons alike will debate for years to come how well or how poorly Trump dealt with the crisis, but what is undeniable is the precious time lost as the president publicly downplayed the outbreak’s threat and failed to get testing underway.
Those initial failures — particularly the sluggish nature of the administration’s testing rollout, combined with faulty test kits and inadequate production — cannot be undone by any action taken today.
Those within the government whose consciences are not burdened by political considerations or electoral consequences have easily acknowledged those early failures — most notably Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, who said to Congress of the testing issues: "That is a failing. Let's admit it."
But Trump cannot admit failure; he knows only boasting.
Earlier this week, the president bragged that the U.S. did as many tests in eight days as South Korea did in eight weeks, which was shown to be untrue. But he also omitted a tiny detail: South Korea moved immediately to widespread testing after discovering its first case and found greater success in containing the spread.
Fauci admitted this week that we still have no idea how many cases truly exist in parts of the country that seem relatively safe at first glance, which he said can catch states unaware and lead to serious outbreaks. Fifty-eight cases in North Dakota? Nobody knows for sure, because the testing still is not up to par.
But the failure goes beyond testing.
Even now, as cases in several hotspots, including New York and California, continue to rise and threaten to overwhelm local health systems, Trump is urging for a return to normalcy, at least for areas of the country where the spread appears slow — areas Fauci has admitted we just don’t know the true extent of the spread.
Trump’s vision, clouded by the upcoming election and an inability to put people before money, simply does not comport with doing “a job the likes of which nobody's seen.”
But this pandemic is one unlike any the world has seen in the last 100 years, Fauci said on Friday. Addressing it has involved learning “in real time.”
“This is truly an unprecedented situation that we’re going through,” he said, adding that he has “been through everything” in his decades-long career, “from the very beginning of the very uncertain days with HIV/AIDS.”
But the coronavirus pandemic is “something we have never seen before, at least in our generation,” Fauci continued. “And we’re really being challenged, to not only learn in real time, to be able to respond in a way that is helpful and effective, but we’re also in uncharted waters.”
Having to fashion that response under the likes of Trump also puts the U.S. in uncharted waters, and any “job the likes of which nobody’s seen” will happen in spite of and not because of him.