After watching Trump’s address to the nation on the Coronavirus last night, I have just one question. Is it possible to just keep him locked up at his Mar-a-Lago club in Florida for the duration of his presidency? Because if this was his attempt at acting presidential, I’d much rather he stick to golf. At least when he cheats at that no one gets hurt.
For eleven minutes, this president had one job: to reassure a shaky market and a frightened population that his administration was, if not on top of this, at least doing its best to get there. He failed on both counts. Putting aside his reflexive need to once again congratulate himself on the great job he’s doing on “the best economy” in the history of western civilization, not one of the “solutions” he put forth will have any positive affect. Banning all flights from Europe won’t do anything to combat the spread of the Coronavirus that’s already here; and putting a little extra money into paychecks via a payroll tax holiday is meaningless if people are afraid to go out and spend it.
Where are the testing kits that are needed to determine how many people have been infected? How soon before a vaccine is ready to be deployed? Where’s the contingency plan from the White House for how to deal with the fallout that every medical expert has said is coming? Where’s the federal assistance for the millions of people who are going to bear the brunt of the economic pain from loss of wages and, in some cases, the closing of businesses? Where’s the plan to buttress a medical system that is perhaps weeks away from being overwhelmed and possibly collapsing?
If you were looking for answers to those and other questions, you didn’t get them last night from this president. If anything, states and local municipalities are doing a much better job of handling this crisis. Mayors and governors are capping the number of people who can attend public events. College campuses and public schools are being closed. Every professional and amateur sports league in the country has either postponed, suspended or canceled its games outright. The Dow suffered its single worst trading day since the 1987 crash, dropping more than 2,300 points. It’s now only 1,373 points above where it was when Trump took office 38 months ago. We are in the middle of the worst crisis this nation has seen quite possibly in its entire history and the pathological liar in chief is still in denial about what’s going on.
This isn’t a “foreign” virus, as this president called it. It may have originated in China, but as Joe Biden so eloquently pointed out in an address that looked far more presidential than Trump’s, it doesn’t “discriminate based on national origin, race, gender or zip code.” The only way we will beat this thing is if our leaders in Washington start, well, leading. And that means putting aside petty bickering. If Trump doesn’t like working with Nancy Pelosi, he needs to get over it. If Bill Clinton could work with Newt Gingrich, Trump can certainly work with Pelosi.
Right now this nation needs a president who can do more than just tweet at all hours of the day and night. Bush guided us through our grief in the months after 9/11. Obama comforted us after Sandy Hook. Trump needs to borrow a page out of the playbook of both those men, and fast. If he can’t or won’t summon the strength, someone in that West Wing has to.
Three days ago the number of reported cases of COVID-19 stood at 732. As of now it stands at 1,558. Over the next couple, three weeks, that number could balloon to over a hundred thousand. Some medical experts are predicting that as much as 40 percent of the population could be infected by this virus by the summer. If just 5 percent of those people require hospitalization – and that’s on the low end – we would need hospital beds for over 6 million patients. The problem is we have less than 100,000 total beds in the ICUs. Assuming a mortality rate of 2 percent, that would mean as many as 2.6 million fatalities. A staggering number.
As Biden said today, “the clock is ticking.” This is only the calm before the storm. The storm that’s coming our way is a category 5.