“Protecting Americans’ health also means fighting infectious diseases. We are coordinating with the Chinese government and working closely together on the coronavirus outbreak in China. My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from this threat.”
-Donald Trump, February 4, 2020
The vast majority of states have told their residents that they must stay at home. The last three years of stock market gains have been largely washed away in a couple of months. When the monthly unemployment figures are released, they will not only break the streak of monthly gains started under Barack Obama, they are likely to be at rates not seen since the Great Depression. As I am writing this, 5,883 of the 244,230 people infected in the United States have died. And with the worst yet to come, America is depending on a reality television star to lead us through this unimaginable tragedy.
The seeds of Trump’s failure were sown long before SARS-CoV-2 emerged. While Obama had “bolstered” the Global Health and Biodefense department on the National Security Council, Trump never replaced the senior director when he left in May 2018. Trump also failed to name a successor when the “homeland security adviser who recommended strong defenses against disease and biological warfare” departed the White House. The current occupant of the White House has consistently attempted to cut the budgets of the CDC, the NIH, and the WHO, using the reasoning that “if we ever need them, we can get them [back] very quickly. And rather than spending the money — and I’m a business person — I don’t like having thousands of people around when you don’t need them.” Except that in a crisis, every moment counts and it pays to have experts…