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Trump’s Cure and Our Disease

The surgeon-general said so. The federal reserve chairman said so. Epidemiologists across the US said so. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the most credible member of Trump’s coronavirus task force, said so. Numerous other medical specialists said so, governors and mayors said so.

But Donald Trump did not say so: “WE CANNOT LET THE CURE BE WORSE THAN THE PROBLEM ITSELF,” Trump tweeted March 22—just as US infections passed 42,000 and 100 deaths occurred for the first time in one day. (Total US coronavirus deaths passed 1000 on March 25.)

He’s looking to Easter to urge people (he cannot order them) to return to work and, presumably, make America great again. Never mind that the World Health Organization predicts that the US will be the epicenter of the coronavirus outbreak, or that New York City residents and hospitals are in a dire situation, or that just about every expert outside the Fox News orbit understands that “back to business” will cause infections and deaths to skyrocket. But then, who cares about international organizations like WHO, or bastions of liberalism like NYC?

The Fed’s Jerome Powell said on the NBC “Today” show: “The first order of business will be to get the spread of the virus under control, and then to resume economic activity. The virus is going to dictate the timetable here.” Fauci said the same thing: “You don’t make the timeline. The virus makes the timeline.” Exactly. For Trump, however, Powell, Fauci, and everyone else has things backwards: First the economy, then the virus. Translated, Trump’s first priority is himself: Get reelected. The only obstacles are the Chinese, the Democrats, and the “LameStream Media,” which wants to “keep our Country closed as long as possible in the hope that it will be detrimental to my election success.”

By “the economy” Trump & Co. mean big business, trade, and the market. They come before acceptable losses of life (no worse than the flu, or auto accidents, he says). Trump has steadfastly maintained that order of things from the beginning, when he waffled on a travel ban of travelers from China, rejected intelligence findings in January and February that pointed to a pandemic, and waited until March before finally declaring a national emergency. Trump’s dithering cost lives, not by accident but by deliberate choice of economic gain over public health needs.

I’ve said this before and I’ll say it again: Donald Trump is the number one threat to national security, and his mishandling of the COVID-19 crisis amounts to criminal neglect. He is the disease that most needs curing.

More articles by:

Mel Gurtov is Professor Emeritus of Political Science at Portland State University, Editor-in-Chief of Asian Perspective, an international affairs quarterly and blogs at In the Human Interest.

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