We are beginning to make sense of the story of the story behind the coronavirus debacle. The President’s story as narrated in his address to the nation is that HE has taken STRONG action, prohibiting travel from China so that this “foreign” virus could not infect America. Ours “is the most aggressive and comprehensive effort to confront a disease in modern history.” The spread will now be “contained” by his interdiction of all travel and cargo shipments from Europe. Although one would think Trump (Miller and Kushner) would have anticipated the consequences of the blockade, they clearly panicked when brokers hit the “sell” button seconds after hearing that line.
Trump’s xenophobic narrative tries to shift the focus away from his administration’s inexcusable misstep with testing. We verified in mid-January the first case of coronavirus in the United States. By the end of February, the World Health Organization had developed virus tests that they shipped to 60 nations. President Trump refused to accept them. Mike Pence explained, “That’s not the way we do it in America. We’re the world leader in infectious diseases . . . . Our CDC and our FDA produce and approve tests through our incredible health care system” (this was before Trump blamed Obama for the delay in testing).
“Our” development of a coronavirus test did not, however, go smoothly. The first tests were contaminated. With over 1,600 verified cases (one now confirmed in Harrisonburg) and 40 deaths, the first USA home-developed tests are being made available to the like of Tom Hanks and Matt Gaetz. For the rest of us, good luck. You have to be in a central location and exhibiting severe symptoms before you get a test, the results of which may take 3-4 days to receive. Dr. Sanja Gupta claimed Thursday that in the previous 24-hour period only 8 tests were reported in the entire country, in contrast to countries like South Korea testing 20,000 people per day. Rather than Trump’s repeated lie that whoever wants a test can get one, this is information the Trump administration does not want made public, thus, his decision to muffle all comments by physicians and disease experts in the government and to stamp “Classified” on all meetings of the Pence task force.
The consequence has been people needlessly dying and CDC’s inability to track the location and density of the virus. Although reporters are now discovering the extent of this bumbling initial response, the government has refused to acknowledge its mistake. NO ONE will say who made that initial decision not to use the World Health Organization’s tests.
The lack of available testing is where the real story is. We’re marching blindly into the abyss. That’s part of the reason why the stock market tanked yesterday. Welcome to the crazy ride on the Trump Train, folks, with an engineer who doesn’t know where he’s going.