Not sure who needs to hear this, but the rapid spread of COVID-19, aka coronavirus, is not a hoax. It is not fake news intended to tank the stock market in order to make Donald Trump look bad. If anything, the stock market’s freak out is more indication that this is very, very real. And no one has to conjure up some kind of hoax to make Trump look bad. He makes himself look bad.
Like when he visited the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and said, among other things, “Anybody that needs a test gets a test. They’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.”
This is simply not true. One of the reasons that the U.S. has fewer confined cases than, say, South Korea or Italy, is because we aren’t testing. We can’t test. Because we don’t have the tests. They aren’t there. They aren’t beautiful.
“As COVID-19 cases spike,” SFGate reports, “the test kits needed to help stem the spread of the disease remain in short supply, with health care workers across [California] reporting widespread failings in the federal government’s response to the growing crisis.”
We don’t even have enough masks and gowns for health care workers. People are buying and hoarding masks and there aren’t enough to go around where they are critically needed.
Trump’s approach to containing the outbreak was to basically build a virtual wall around the virus, a wall as complete and effective as his border fence.
According to Politico, “From the start, the White House focused on containment, trusting that a limited ban on travel to and from China could somehow force a fast-moving virus to stop cold when it hit the Chinese border.”
This approach only succeeded in stigmatizing Asian Americans. It turns out you can’t racism a health crisis away. Sadly racism is the thing Trump does best.
People are scared and pissed. While I frankly think Democrats could be much more forceful with their criticisms, they are speaking out.
Politico reports that several dozen House Democrats wrote a letter to Trump saying, “The level of chaos with which the administration has greeted the spread of coronavirus is unacceptable and, frankly, frightening.”
I question the use of the word “greeted” here, like coronavirus is a frenemy or something. But I understand that the words “unacceptable” and “frightening” because they can’t come right out and say, “Trump s–t the bed.”
Sen. Chris Murphy (D-Conn.) told the Washington Post, “In many ways, this was the moment we feared: a true security threat to the nation and a president who can’t tell the truth, who can’t organize a consistent response and doesn’t have enough experienced people on the job.”
Murphy is spot on. In fact, author Michael Lewis in his book “The Fifth Risk” warned very specifically that the Trump Administration would absolutely fail if faced with any kind of real crisis because they are proudly ignorant while at the same time arrogant and dismissive. And here we are!
Meanwhile, across the world, other countries have a much better handle on this. They are testing more people and have been on this from the start. Right now, the U.S. has a very low number of confirmed cases compared to countries with high numbers like China and Italy. But experts are warning that numbers here are likely higher, if only we could test for them.
Lots of folks are pointing out that most of the people who get COVID-19 will recover and that only the immunocompromised, the elderly, and babies will die — though recent reports have shown that the virus is mysteriously “sparing” more children than adults.
As of this writing, over 3,800 people have died. More will die.
Trump, who fancies himself an epidemiologist, pointed out on Twitter that people also die from the flu.
“So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu,” he Tweeted. “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!”
Yes. Let’s think about that. Especially the part where he says “at this moment” as if we are frozen in time. It’s also worth noting that a short time ago Trump expressed surprise that anyone died from the flu. He said he had no idea. Guess what killed his grandfather?
Remember when the Republicans had the chance to remove this dangerously incompetent man but they were like, “Nah,” and now your grandma is going to die on a cruise ship?
But is Trump worried?
White House Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham told Fox News, “The president of the United States, as we all know, is quite a hand washer. He uses hand sanitizer all the time. So he’s not concerned about this at all.”
The only thing Trump is worried about is himself. Not you. Not your family. Not your country. Not ever.
D’Anne Witkowski is a poet, writer and comedian living in Michigan with her wife and son. She has been writing about LGBT politics for over a decade. Follow her on Twitter @MamaDWitkowski.