On Feb. 7, during a taped interview with Bob Woodward, President Trump acknowledged that the coronavirus could be transmitted through the air, that it was very dangerous and that it would be difficult to contain. "This is deadly stuff," he told the investigative journalist.
"You just breathe the air, and that's how it's passed," the president warned.
Despite his apparent understanding of the severity of the disease and its method of transmission, over the next month, in five cities around the country, Mr. Trump held large indoor rallies, which were attended by thousands of his supporters.
Mr. Trump spent weeks insisting in public that the coronavirus was no worse than a seasonal flu. It would "disappear" when the seasons changed, he promised in late February. "We're doing a great job," he said in early March.
Why lie to the American people? Why — as the administration accuses the Chinese government of doing — lie to the world about the severity of what was declared a pandemic only days later?
"I wanted to always play it down," Mr. Trump told Mr. Woodward on March 19. "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."
Mr. Trump and a great many of his supporters and political allies did play down the severity of the coronavirus and did criticize the public health measures deployed to prevent its spread. As a result, the coronavirus spread faster and sickened or killed more people in the United States than in any of its peer nations. If the United States had the same coronavirus fatality rate as Canada, more than 100,000 Americanscould still be alive today.
Much of the responsibility for the fatal mishandling of the pandemic lies with the president. But with every public lie out of Mr. Trump's mouth, or on his Twitter feed, how many members of his administration who knew better stayed silent?
The president has repeatedly tried to muzzle and sideline scientists and health officials who disagree with his sunny assessments, often replacing them with less qualified people willing to sing his praises.
So it was that the president's coronavirus task force revised guidelines on testing for asymptomatic people, while the task force's leading infectious disease doctor, Anthony Fauci, was having surgery. So it is that, in the pandemic's seventh month, Scott Atlas, a neuroradiologist with no background in infectious disease outbreaks, is arguing that it's not the government's job to stamp out the coronavirus, while the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention remain silent.
Mr. Trump's lack of leadership almost certainly made the nation's suffering greater, its death toll higher and its economic costs more severe in the long term. When the president dithered on testing and contact tracing, when he failed to make or execute a clear and effective plan for securing personal protective equipment, when he repeatedly belittled and dismissed mask mandates and other social distancing edicts, Mr. Trump knew the virus was deadly and airborne. He knew that millions of people could get sick, and many would die.
Furthermore, Mr. Woodward's tapes make clear that members of the Trump administration failed to act — even behind the scenes — based on what they knew at the time.
Nearly 200,000 people in the United States have already died, and hundreds of thousands more have suffered grave illness — often followed by a slow, hard recovery and, in some cases, permanent disability. Tens of millions of people have lost their jobs, and millions are on the cusp of losing their homes. School systems and elder care networks are struggling to function. The economy is in tatters.
Imagine what this picture could look like today if the president had been honest with the American public on Feb. 7, calmly taken charge of the nation's response to the pandemic and did his best to protect them.
Editorial, New York Times, September 9, 2020
Biden calls Trump's response to coronavirus 'a disgrace' in Michigan speechwww.youtube.com
September 9, 2020
Voices4America Post America. Read the @NYTimes editorial. Watch Biden on Trump and his failure to act, "Dereliction of Duty! Unfit." Read! Watch! Share! 54 days to go! Throw the #CriminalTrump out. #TrumpLied #PeopleDied #VoteEarly #VoteBlue #BidenHarris2020
As to Trump’s excuse, that he didn’t want people to panic, huh? Here is Trevor Noah’s answer to that.
Trevor Noah found that to be a little off-brand. Causing panic, Noah said, is "literally his favorite thing."
Cities are burning, suburbs are collapsing, caravans of antifa Mexicans are committing Muslim voter fraud — his campaign slogan is basically, 'Look out behind you!'" Noah said on Wednesday's "Daily Show."
And look, I get that as a leader you don't want people to panic, but you also want to inform the people so they can be safe. You know, if a plane is crashing, a pilot will tell you to remain calm, but they'll also tell you to fasten your seatbelts and brace for impact. If Trump was a pilot, he'd be like, 'Attention all passengers, everything is fine. Seatbelts are for snowflakes, and if you want to stretch your legs, now's the perfect time. Bye-bye.'" — TREVOR NOAH (New York Times, September 10)