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A M Reid
Contributor on The Bipartisan Press
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At a recent press conference, President Donald Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence as the coronavirus task force leader and informed Americans that the risk of contracting the virus is still very low. He also added that if an outbreak does occur, they would be fully prepared for it. A few hours after this conference, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention confirmed the first US case suspected of contracting the virus through community spread, where the origin of infection is unknown.
Trump has since been heavily criticized for his response, particularly over his decision to appoint Pence. In 2015, when Pence was the governor of Indiana, he failed to control Indiana’s HIV outbreak, mainly due to choosing to delay implementing a needle-exchange program. If this program was set up earlier, it would have drastically lowered HIV infection rates.
Trump has also been accused of downplaying the severity of coronavirus and not taking it seriously, the World Health Organization (WHO) warning that coronavirus is rapidly spreading at an alarming rate, with over 85,000 people infected worldwide.
This Friday, before heading to South Carolina for a campaign rally, Trump talked to reporters regarding the negative reactions to his coronavirus response. He argued that disapproval to his response, rather than being based on legitimate claims, is a result of Democrats misleading citizens to gain political advantage: “Some of the Democrats are doing it the way it should be, but some of them are trying to gain political favor by saying a lot of untruths.”
Trump further complained that Democrats are ignoring how he took quick action by suspending flights from China earlier in the month. He claimed that this is clear evidence he takes the situation seriously, is fully prepared, and that Democrats concerns are politically motivated.
“The fact is, I made one decision that was a very important decision, and that was to close our country to a certain area of the world that was relatively heavily infected. And because of that, we’re talking about 15, who seem to be all getting better,” Trump said. “One is questionable. And had that decision not been made, it could be a much different story.”
He explained to reporters, “Some people are giving us credit for that and some people aren’t. But the only ones that aren’t, they don’t mean it, it’s political, it’s politics.”
Trump ended his talk by informing reporters that he was attending the South Carolina rally, and was optimistic about how it would play out: “Speaking of politics, I’m going to South Carolina, I think we’re going to do fantastically there. It will be very interesting to see what happens tomorrow.”
Then, during the rally he came back to saying how his actions had helped stop the spread, as well as refer to the apparent blaming of the coronavirus on him as a “hoax.”
“One of my people came up to me and said, ‘Mr. President, they tried to beat you on Russia, Russia, Russia.’ That didn’t work out too well. They couldn’t do it. They tried the impeachment hoax. That was not a perfect conversation. They tried anything. They tried it over and over. They’d been doing it since you got in. It’s all turning. They lost. It’s all turning. Think of it. Think of it. And this is their new hoax. But we did something that’s been pretty amazing. We have 15 people in this massive country and because of the fact that we went early. We went early, we could have had a lot more than that. We’re doing great. Our country is doing so great. We are so unified. We are so unified. The Republican party has never ever been unified like it is now.”
Furthermore, Trump called his actions, notably the ban of entry for non-citizens from China, “…the most aggressive action in modern history to prevent the spread of this illness in the United States,” as well as slamming the Democrats’ request to raise the $2.5 billion package to $8.5 billion.
Addressing the COVID-19 situation Friday, he said that the United States was fully prepared, and also noted that “…so far we have lost nobody to coronavirus in the United States. Nobody. And it doesn’t mean we won’t and we are totally prepared. It doesn’t mean we won’t, but think of it. You hear 35 and 40,000 [referrence to the flu deaths per year] people and we’ve lost nobody and you wonder the press is in hysteria mode.”
CDC confirmed today that one person had died of the coronavirus in Washington this morning. During the press conference, officials, including noted immunologist Dr. Anthony Fauci, continued to press that the risk to public health was low, though they predicted that there would be more cases.
This Thursday, Trump said at the White House that, “It’s [coronavirus] going to disappear. One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”
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