Shocked at the prevailing misinformation of the Trump administration, Dr. Ashish Jha, the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, says President Donald Trump deliberately ignored scientific direction for the two months at the very beginning of this global pandemic.
On February 28, President Trump held a rally and called COVID-19 the Democrats’ “new hoax,” simultaneously politicizing the incoming pandemic and downplaying its validity. On Fox News on March 24, Trump also tried to draw attention away from the deadly virus by explaining that the flu and car accidents lead to high mortality, but the country is able to keep going.
According to Dr. Jha, the U.S. is far behind other global superpowers in terms of providing widespread COVID-19 testing. As soon as the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention learned of the coronavirus outbreaks in China, they sent out a warning on January 8 of 2020. President Trump’s only reaction at the time was to limit flights from China, and when the virus reached the states, he falsely claimed that everyone would have access to testing. President Trump’s negative influence on the pandemic’s reach is multi-faceted, Dr. Jha explains. His rhetoric has pervasive effect and now much of the U.S. population have discarded medical advice simply because their president has shrugged off warnings from the very beginning, refused to take responsibility for misinformation making the virus seem as though it is both weak and practically out of the government’s hands, and has set a poor example by refusing to practice social distancing and take a test. He has also referred to COVID-19 as the “foreign virus,” both an offensive and misleading remark that takes pressure off any ownership over the outcomes.
Most troubling, according to CNN, is the lack of communication with the public. If President Trump really did understand the enormity of the situation in January and imposed travel restrictions, the opposite message was shared with the U.S. population, as he reassured everyone that the virus would disappear shortly. In a January 22 interview with CNBC, he confirmed no one should worry, because the virus was simply “…one person coming from China…” in another case of inaccurate information.
The U.S. has faced health crises before, explains the Hudson Institute, and it is unclear why President Trump did not “loosen FDA restrictions sooner” than the end of February, which would have hastened the preparation of testing kits, according to Dr. Anthony Fauci.
There was a potential to shield against COVID-19 before the U.S. was swept up in the pandemic, but President Trump unfortunately did not act quick enough or correct falsehoods.