“Pandemics will happen and we need to be prepared” were the words Jody Ranck, global health expert and executive with diagnostic startups, told the Daily Free Press. Ranck, who received his doctorate in Public Health Policy from University of California, Berkeley, has studied global pandemics since the 1990’s and knew COVID-19 threatened the safety and wellbeing of millions of Americans since Christmas 2019, “I saw red flags around Christmas in a blog.”
In late February, the World Health Organization offered to ship COVID-19 tests to any country in need. Nearly 60 nations accepted this offer, thankfully. Ranck, among many other health professionals in the United States, was perplexed to hear that the Trump administration declined these tests from the WHO in favor of producing them domestically. These tests would have provided vital information, identifying coronavirus infections before the virus could be passed on to others.
This mistake is more costly than any lousy policy. For the many Americans infected, there will be deaths. The Trump administration’s inability to provide for the American people and conduct widespread testing reduced diagnoses. This essentially causes scientists limited ability and control in their efforts to mitigate the epidemic, forcing them to “fly blind.”
Moreover, President Donald Trump’s decision deprived epidemiologists of a projection to the virus’s speed and direction. Their work would have served as a roadmap for state governments and health professionals to dispense urgent resources and slow coronavirus’ spread.
Major academic institutions like Boston University shut down campuses, states have implemented shelter-in-place protocols and nations closed their borders to practice social distancing and quarantining, the most effective path to defeating the virus. Meanwhile, Trump recently stated he wants the United States “opened up” by Easter, despite warnings from health experts.
The feedback from public health experts is clear: if the United States does not continue practicing social distancing, then there will be a massive spike in cases as Americans return to crowded workplaces and events. In other words, more Americans will contract the virus, and more Americans will die. A whopping 54,453 Americans have already tested positive for coronavirus, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Protection, and this is only the beginning.
Why might Trump want to re-open the country when he has been advised that this measure will kill Americans? Simply put, Trump is up for re-election this year and a plundering economy will make him look unfavorable. It is the same reason that Fox News anchors de-emphasized the growing number of cases in the U.S., claiming that scientists’ warnings were simply the Democrats trying to make Trump look distrustful.
On March 8th, Fox & Friends host Pete Hegseth dismissed the threat, saying “The more I learn about this, the less there is to worry about.” That same day, the U.S. counted more than 550 cases. Misguided statements forced Trump’s top coronavirus advisor, Dr. Anthony Fauci, to label such sentiments as false equivalencies and tell the American people to face the fact that coronavirus is lethal.
In trying to boost his image, this president is willing to allow the deadly virus to spread and kill.
Politicians’ first and foremost loyalty must be to their constituents, specifically and especially during a time of national emergency. “They need to put the health of the country before their electoral needs or interests,” Ranck reiterates.
We elect presidents to lead us and keep us safe. During these trying times, weak leadership has misled the American people and endangered millions of the most at-risk. The American people should demand more from their president and his administration, for Trump’s handling of the coronavirus epidemic will kill American citizens.