At almost every step of the way, Trump has helped cause the coronavirus to spread and obstructed medical supplies from reaching places in need. It amounts to an undeclared war by the US president on his own country.
Vacating his role as national leader, President Donald Trump had instructed the states to acquire their own ventilators and PPE. Then his government not only tried to outbid the states, but had the FBI and the Department of Homeland Security block states and hospitals from getting medical supplies. Consequently, the states and their hospitals have limited PPE and ventilators; and the virus has continued its rapid spread among medical workers. In month two of the pandemic, hospitals are still in short supply – a direct result of the federal government’s war on the people.
Trump received recommendations to be proactive in responding the coronavirus threat from his National Security Council and Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar in January. In late February and early March, he received multiple warnings from public health experts within his administration to shut down the US to avoid widespread cases. This advice was ignored up through March 16th, when social distancing guidelines were released from the White House. Yet soon, thereafter, Trump repeated his goal of reopening the country by Easter. But as Easter neared, the White House extended its distancing guidelines through April 30. Nevertheless, his desire for reopening as soon as possible – despite caution from Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health experts – remained one of his talking points.
After Easter came and went, Trump told governors that he alone had the power to determine when states reopen, forgetting the 10th Amendment and that the US is not a dictatorship. A few days later, he backed off and his administration released surprisingly responsible 3-step guidelines for carefully reopening, in which deference was given to governors. The following day, as if now a ventriloquist’s dummy, Trump went to Twitter and wrote “LIBERATE Michigan.” This would be followed by “LIBERATE “Minnesota” and other states. These tweets supported and increased the volume of anti-shutdown protests against governors’ public health policies to mitigate coronavirus transmission. Already, these protests have caused an uptick in cases in Kentucky; and Trump’s war against the people shows no signs of diminishing.
By not listening to health experts’ and administration members’ early warnings in January and early February, Trump allowed coronavirus to spread in the US. But by waiting until mid-March to issue stay-at-home guidelines, coronavirus deaths have been estimated to increase by 90% – in not issuing stay-at-home guidelines two weeks earlier – to 60% – in not providing a 1-week earlier intervention.
Through continuously waffling on the pandemic’s seriousness, even while federal stay-at-home guidelines were in place, Trump signaled to his supporters that the pandemic may be another ‘hoax’, just like his impeachment. Additionally, he signaled to everyday Americans, who in times of crisis often look to national leadership for guidance, that they need not be so careful in socially distancing. More recently, he supported protests against states’ stay-at-home orders, just after his administration provided guidelines, in which deferred to state governors to decide the best way to reopen.
The federal government has deliberately hindered supplies from getting to hospitals. Trump’s continued advocacy against public health recommendations has caused the virus spread to almost four times as high, with twice as many deaths, as the next worst case, globally. While Trump may not fully responsible for coronavirus reaching the US and spreading here, he is directly responsible for its mammoth scale, as it is directly due to his policy blunders and the low regard he holds everyday Americans – we seem to all be part of his reality tv show in which he wins re-election.
In supporting coronavirus spread and hindering medical supplies from reaching hospitals, Trump is at war with the people.
Unfortunately, he is winning.
Peter F. Crowley is an independent writer and scholar with a M.S. in Conflict Resolution, Global Studies from Northeastern University. His writings can be found in Boston Literary Magazine, 34th Parallel Magazine, Counterpunch, Foreign Policy Journal, Work Literary Magazine, Znet, Opiate Magazine, Truthout, Antiwar.com, Peace Review and several others. His poetry book ‘Those who hold up the earth’ is scheduled for publication by Kelsay Books in the first half of 2020.