“President Trump’s Great American Comeback has begun…all thanks to the early action taken by President Trump to combat the spread of coronavirus.”- Rep. Drew Ferguson, Newnan Times Herald, 7-24-20
Rep. Ferguson’s opinion that early reopening had led to success in the COVID war is factually incorrect. As 150 USPIRG health professionals stated in a recent letter to Trump “The best thing for the nation is not to reopen as quickly as possible, it’s to save as many lives as possible.”-
Complements and optimism have a time and place. Further, the time and place are clearly not in the middle of the worst epidemic in 100 years. Yes, smack in the middle…as you will see when the substantial virus spike from the Trump advocated reopening of face-to-face learning in schools occurs in September.
The fact is that we have had no national strategy for containing Covid-19. From the start of the pandemic, I’ve consistently indicated in my many columns on the subject that we in the USA were never going to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control the uncoordinated way we were proceeding. Unfortunately, I was correct.
The USA has more COVID-19 cases and deaths than anywhere in the world. With 4% of the world population, we currently have 23% of the world’s deaths and 26% of its COVID-19 cases (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/ma...).
Why? In theory we have a Commander-in-Chief who should be leading us. In reality, we have an Abdicator-in-Chief who refuses to command the healthcare troops. Healthcare experts understand that we are in a healthcare war, have no plan to win and are losing the battle.
Due to the deteriorating facts on the ground, a recent open letter was sent to President Trump from 1000 prominent healthcare professionals outlining the basics needed to control the spread of the virus in America (see https://uspirg.org/resources/usp/shut-it-down-start-over-do-it-right).
Much of what they stated is common knowledge among healthcare professionals, although the public has stayed confused all along due to politics entering into what should simply be a public health issue. The USPRIG (US Public Interest Research Group) signers recommend that Trump immediately admit he made a grave mistake in his oblivious “hands off” approach and:
-start over from scratch and shut down the nation
-tell Americans the truth about the virus and our status versus the rest of the developed world
-close all non-essential businesses, opening them very slowly only after containment of the virus
-mandate wearing masks and social distancing
-stop interstate travel unless it is vital
-demand people stay home, other than for true necessities
-“massively” increase testing (we are only testing 35% of what we should and test results are obtained too slowly to be useful)
- dramatically improve contact tracing, including adding many more tracers (there’s a severe shortage now)
- substantially increase the supply of personal protection equipment (PPE)
In conclusion, will Trump take their advice and follow these recommendations? Based on his past practices and narcistic personality, of course not. The answer to why the current Administration hasn’t already taken these obvious steps is complex and is interwoven in Trump’s numerous personality flaws.
In my humble opinion, Trump still believes that he can politically scapegoat the problem, something he has successfully done his entire life, enabled by politicians like Ferguson. At various times, he has blamed China, the World Health Organization, the Democratic Party, Governors, and health care experts for the spread of the pandemic and continues to do so. He also believes he can rewrite history and continue telling our citizens that he has done the maximum to control the virus ( factually incorrect, but still repeated by Ferguson).
In that virtually all polls show Trump rapidly losing support, it would appear that his time in office is coming to an end. For example, Gallup currently has Trump at only a 41% job approval rating. Even Rasmussen, a clearly biased right-wing survey outfit, has Trump down by 6% versus Biden. (https://www.realclearpolitics.com/epolls/latest_polls).
Unfortunately for the nearly 200,000 people who are projected die of COVID-19 before the election, November is not coming soon enough. But Trump’s legacy of unnecessarily dead Americans will live on. And so will the legacy of Trump apologists like Rep. Ferguson who will say after the fact that they had no way of knowing the crisis was that bad. It is, Representative…but I suspect you know that fact regardless of your public praise of Trump.
Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a national corporation, was the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia. He was Chair of the Jasper County Commission and Republican Party. He Chaired the Association of County Commissioners of Georgia's Tax Committee. He is currently the Fayette County Vice-Chair of the Board of Health.