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Has the Trump administration responded well to COVID-19? Show more Show less

Government responses to emergency situations like the coronavirus outbreak can have a critical impact on the health and wellbeing of the public, and on the economy and society at large. So how have President Trump and his team responded? Will the American people benefit from or be hurt by the actions of the Trump Administration?

No, the Trump administration has failed in its response to COVID-19 Show more Show less

Delays, botched testing kits, infrastructure degradation, half-truths, have all put the American public at significant risk, and made the dangers of the pandemic much more real.
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Trump closed the pandemic response unit and created a COVID-19 task force in its place which caters to his goals rather than to the health of the nation

Both the Obama and Trump administrations saw the need for reorganization of the expansive National Security Council. However, President Trump’s condensing of the directorates led to negligence and prioritization of issues other than COVID-19. With a smaller task force, President Trump finds it easier to take control over public communication about the virus, even if dismissive of medical advice.
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Context

The Argument

The real problem with President Donald Trump’s handling of the COVID-19 pandemic is his over-involvement in decision-making, leading to a lopsided distribution of power, and his lack of referral to scientific experts. The 2014 Ebola disaster led Beth Cameron to lead a global health and biodefense team for Obama's administration that could handle Ebola and future crises. Lisa Monaco, the former Homeland Security Adviser to President Barack Obama, explained that Obama was aware of his own place of expertise and firm in his decision to follow the protocol of the newly formed National Security Council Directorate for Global Health Security and Biodefense. In moments of crisis, President Trump appears to defer to his own intuition rather than the meticulous research of his advisers. In other words, his task force serves him rather than the suffering nation. She notes that Obama’s decision not to issue a travel ban was purely because his team had not advised him to do so, and he was determined “to be guided by science and facts and speak clearly and consistently and credibly on those issues.”[1] In 2018, John Bolton, former adviser to Trump, “merged” three directorates of the National Security Council: “arms control and nonproliferation, weapons of mass destruction terrorism, and global health and biodefense.” To be fair, the Obama administration had also considered the NSC to be quite sprawling and in need of reorganization.[2] Yet, Cameron explains that a pandemic tends to be a bit of a sneak attack, and because the fused directorate was now focused on myriad issues, seemingly more important, nobody saw COVID-19 coming. [1] On top of it all, while Trump called together an emergency coronavirus task force, once he recognized the danger of the pandemic on January 29 of 2020, he did not seem to be on the same page with them. Stephen Hahn, a commissioner with the Food and Drug Administration, has had to provide damage control for Trump’s recent suggestion of disinfectant. Although Mike Pence is technically in charge of the coronavirus task force, Trump has asserted his presence and has powerful influence over the task force’s communication with the public, a drastically different approach than Obama’s, Vanity Fair suggests. The end goal is not set; it’s dependent on Trump’s fluctuating opinion.[1] Trump’s focus on the economy has left the country grossly at risk. Although the virus is still in full swing, the White House released a statement that the task force is now focused on “reopening” the nation, not because of the experts’ advice, but because of President Trump’s personal goals. [3]

Counter arguments

It is important to note that President Trump did not actually disband any biodefense team, but rather redistributed the focus. Now, the team is a far more manageable size and able to effectively communicate with each other. This is a due change, claims Tim Morrison, senior fellow at the Hudson Institute and former senior director for counterproliferation and biodefense on the National Security Council.[2] According to Rebeccah L. Heinrichs, also a senior fellow at the Hudson Institute, blaming President Trump for the ravage of COVID-19 is shortsighted and missing the true cause: misinformation from Xi Jinping, General Secretary of the Communist Party of China. Heinrichs emphasizes that the merging of the three NSC directorates followed through with the streamlining both the Obama and Trump administrations were working towards. Its sole purpose was to encourage “better cooperation between” directorates who previously seemed to have attentions split in too many directions and to protect the nation from “biological threats.” Heinrich also mentions that we simply cannot tell how the current administration has protected the U.S. through this pandemic until we have seen it through to its finish.[4] CBS News reports that the U.S. is actually more displeased with President Trump’s personal response to COVID-19 rather than his task force’s handling of the situation. While the public has extremely divided opinions of Trump’s performance, approval ratings for Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases and a member of the coronavirus task force, are generally neutral or positive.[5]

Framing

Premises

Rejecting the premises

Proponents

Further Reading

References

  1. https://www.vanityfair.com/news/2020/05/trump-obama-coronavirus-pandemic-response
  2. https://www.realclearpolitics.com/articles/2020/03/17/no_the_white_house_didnt_dissolve_its_pandemic_response_office_142683.html
  3. https://www.whitehouse.gov/briefings-statements/new-members-white-house-coronavirus-task-force-announced/
  4. https://www.hudson.org/research/15889-the-truth-about-the-national-security-council-s-pandemic-team
  5. https://www.cbsnews.com/news/coronavirus-donald-trump-marks-handling-covid-outbreak-decline-cbs-news-poll-today-2020-05-14/

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This page was last edited on Friday, 10 Jul 2020 at 15:39 UTC