Coronavirus: Lies and more lies by this administration

The number infected here is going very substantially down, not up;” “It’s a little like the regular flu that we have flu shots for”; “we’ll essentially have a flu shot for this in a fairly quick manner.” 

– President Trump, 2-20-26 

“It’s not so much of a question of ‘if this (community spreading) will happen in this country’ anymore but a question of when this will happen.” 

– Dr. Nancy Messonnier, CDC, 2-26-20

If true, Trump’s statement would have been very reassuring. Along with: “We have contained this,” and “[I]t’s pretty close to airtight” per Larry Kudlow (2-25), Trump’s economic adviser and Coronavirus Task Force member.

But, as Dr. Messonnier stated, Trump was 100 percent inaccurate, and she wasn’t the only one, with X-FDA Commissioner Scott Gottlieb saying, “We have to assume it’s already here and circulating.” (Congressional testimony, 2-5) Plus Paul Biddinger, Director, Emergency Preparedness Research, Harvard; “Everything we’ve seen indicates this disease will be widespread within weeks, not months.” (PNN, 2-29)

Trump was just trying to calm financial markets, his priority. There’s a difference between reassuring the public to prevent a panic and being totally dishonest, as Trump and his administration were for months. 

The market doesn’t believe the administration either. We have had the worst market drop in decades, a Bear Market, even though the market has gone up since. We all know that the short-term 2020 economy (and his own wealth) is Trump’s biggest concern, compelling him on 3-13-20 to finally admit America has a pandemic and declare a National Emergency.

Trump previously refused, presumably because of the impact the declaration would have on public opinion and financial markets. Trump acted, but only after he was sent a joint letter by the AMA, AHA, and others demanding that he do so. (Note: the market continues to be very erratic, showing lack of confidence in Trump). 

Even then, Trump indicated that we were ahead of the curve timewise. Unsurprisingly, Trump continued to incorrectly say we are “rated number one in the world” and “we’ve done a great job” (3-13). 

That’s not what healthcare experts believed. 

Time Magazine (3-5) looked at what healthcare experts were saying prior to 3-13: “The containment strategy was doomed from the start,” -Jeremy Konyndyk, x-Director USAID’s Office of Foreign Disaster Assistance; and “Quarantines are intended to buy us time. Did we make good use of the time? No—and now we’re hustling,”- Steve Morrison, CSIS global health center.

Trump also repeatedly indicated that we are very well prepared. However, per Dr. Ashish Jha, Director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, “Our response is much, much worse than almost any other country that’s been affected.”  (NPR, 3-12)

Not a revelation when you consider that Trump in 2018 did away with the National Security Council global health emergencies group and defunded the Complex Crisis Fund ($30 million). According to the Washington Post, the CDC cut its “global disease” endeavors by 80 percent last year due to lack of money. He now says he knows nothing about any of it (3-13) and that he’s not responsible, as usual.

Further, comparative nations charts illustrate how poorly we have done responding to this pandemic (see Forbes, 4-10-20). Our response time is worse than any other nation examined (China data excluded due to quality). 

Trump assurance us in March that we could all go to church by Easter. But, per the CDC, the number of cases in the USA is still rapidly going up, not down. And, we are way behind other developed nations on getting test kits to medical professionals. Further, experts indicate that we are 12-18 months away from a vaccine. Even then, we don’t know how effective it will be or if the virus will return annually. 

Trump stated numerous times in February and early March that hardly anyone will get the virus. However, there are 51 million high Americans over 65 and another 42 million 55-64 (KFF, 2018). That means 93 million residents are in high risk groups, not including people under 55 having medical issues such as asthma, diabetes and CODP. 

As of 4-13-20 (DPH), we have had 554,849 Covid-19 cases and 21,942 deaths in the US. That represents about a 4 percent death rate.

Locally, we have had 13,315 cases in Georgia, with 2,589 hospitalizations (19%) and 464 deaths (3.5%). In Fayette County, there have been 105 cases and 5 deaths. In Public Health District 4, the median age of patients is 55 while the median age of death is 76.

Mr. President, did you ever stop long enough to realize that you are in a very high-risk group, given your age and health? Apparently not or you would have made pro-actively addressing the Coronavirus more of a priority for the US government, saving thousands of lives.

Jack Bernard, a retired SVP with a large national healthcare firm, has worked extensively with hospitals across the nation regarding cost containment and insurance. He was also the first Director of Health Planning for Georgia.

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