First modification: 04/15/2020 – 11:06 Last modification: 04/15/2020 – 11:06
The US president manages the crisis imposed by the pandemic with the November presidential elections in his sights. While the White House blunders are dead, Trump improvises diagnoses on the end of the disease, ignores the experts and announces that he stops financing the World Health Organization.
On January 21, 2020, the U.S. government’s Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) issued a notice about the first case of coronavirus detected in the country. Since then, countless medical advisers and hired experts from numerous government agencies have identified the threat and warned the White House of the need for a swift and aggressive response. A warning that was added to the devastating report “Crimson Contagion” that had been produced the previous year by a committee of experts from the administration itself. There, the danger in the absence of preparation and financial funds in the event of a global health crisis was certified.RELATED
And when the Covid-19 pandemic appeared, nothing was ready.
Given the escalation of cases, President Trump preferred – as usual – to trust his instinct and parked the advice of specialists, missing decisive weeks that could save lives. Almost three months later, the United States is the country in the world with the most fatal victims of the disease.
Trump initially opted to modulate the message and protect economic interests. The president described his adviser Alex Azar as alarmist, whom he ended up firing to grant the coordination of the epidemic to Vice President Mike Pence. And it is that the fight for the story was fought from the day after the notice about the first case. On January 22, the president literally stated: “Everything is going to be fine. We have everything under control.” This mantra was held for another week in the context of a stark internal debate on China’s role in the spread of the virus.
Commerce Secretary Steven Mnuchin fought tooth and nail, but without success, against the decision to limit travel from the Asian giant to the United States. Political pressure from the conservative hawks surrounding Trump – eager to find a scapegoat – outweighed Mnuchin’s warnings that the move would blow up the trade pact being negotiated with the world’s second largest economy. A pact that – if materialized – would be a colossal electoral platform for Trump in the November elections.
On Tuesday, April 14, Trump went further and announced the suspension of his country’s aid to the WHO, accusing it of “mismanagement” in the face of the pandemic. The United States, the main support of the World Health Organization (WHO) with more than 400 million dollars a year, will put its contribution in brackets while “a review is carried out to evaluate the role of WHO in mismanagement and the cover-up of the spread of the coronavirus, “said Trump.
“In April, he is supposed to die in the heat.”
The president maintained the speech of the denial of the problem when in mid-February he delayed without justification the application of a surveillance system in five cities of the country to measure the spread of the virus and help health authorities to project future problem locations. As a result, the administration was left without protocols to face the pandemic, to which was added the fiasco in the development of medical tests on potential patients. A foreseeable fiasco considering years of economic cuts in the national diagnostic network.
The escalation of the threat was confirmed in February among Trump messages denying the evidence. On February 7, he wrote, “When the weather is hotter, let’s hope the virus gets weaker and eventually disappears.” Days later he even put a date: “In April, he will supposedly die in the heat.” On February 24, Trump maintained that “the coronavirus is very controlled in the United States. It seems to me that the markets are beginning to look good. ” And on February 26, he concluded with an amazing statement: “Thanks to everything we have done, the risk to the American people remains very low. The cases there are now going to drop to near zero in a few days. Very soon there will be five people and they could be one or two in a very short time ”.
When on March 2 Trump contradicted the doctors, stating that “I think we will have a vaccine relatively soon”, the health authorities in New York were already preparing contingency plans for the wave of infections that they foresaw in a few days. The president surrendered to the evidence and decreed the measures of social distancing that he feared so much for its effect on the economy, although it took two weeks to take the step. Precious time that was lethal. Confirmed cases of coronavirus soared in the United States from February 26 to March 16, from 15 to 4,226.
The fight for the story
The devastation caused by the virus has mitigated the aggressive White House dialectic regarding immigrants, but the Byzantine US immigration laws make it difficult to recruit foreign medical and nursing personnel, essential in the absence of indigenous troops, victims of the disease. in the exercise of their work. In parallel, the coronavirus has emerged the gigantic inequality existing in American society, and particularly in cities like New York, where death rates are astronomically higher among Hispanics and African-Americans, racial minorities with lower incomes and therefore with less access to health.
Trump – harassed by the press due to the slowness of his government responding to the crisis – revolted this week wielding a video where his leadership before Covid-19 is pondered. With the first data that indicates a trend towards the flattening of the contagion curve, the president resumes the fight for the story, aware that just six months after the elections, time is pressing to recover an economy that will go into recession this year, according to the IMF. Trump then seems condemned to choose between reelection – more likely if the country reopens soon – or more deaths, which would lead to a premature return to work.
A sordid debate that does not hide how the lack of national planning, combined with the daily chaos of a White House absorbed by the improvisation and disorder inherent in Trump, have exacerbated in the United States the devastating effects of the coronavirus.