A month or so ago, when Mr. Trump was trying to persuade the American public that the coronavirus was not something to worry about and that it was “under control,” he was apparently more worried about the stock market crashing and an economic downturn than he was about a pandemic that could potentially kill tens of thousands of people. Some suggested Mr. Trump’s worries about the economy were connected to his hopes for re-election in November. As a result, he failed to lead the country in preparing quickly for the coronavirus. He dismissed intelligence service warnings in December that the emerging coronavirus in China was a very real threat to the health of the rest of the world, including the U.S. He did not think we as a nation needed to take any special action. Instead, he suggested that alarms about a viral epidemic were exaggerated by the Democrats who wanted the economy to crash so that Trump would lose re-election in November. We lost precious weeks during which we could have been better prepared.
Now Mr. Trump is asking Americans to trust his judgment as to when we can safely let up on restrictive measures against the pandemic and let the economy get back into full stride. He is suggesting that if we work too hard at quelling the pandemic, we will do more harm to the country by allowing the economy to stall so long that people will give up hope and become addicted to drugs or commit suicide.
I do not think Mr. Trump is the right person to be making the call as to when we can slack off on virus control and let everyone go back to work. He has demonstrated that he was not interested in what health experts recommended until rising numbers of our citizens contracted the virus, forcing him to admit that we were facing an emergency. But even while admitting that, Mr. Trump offered rosy and incorrect statements about vaccines and other drugs being almost immediately available, that April would bring warm weather and the coronavirus would quickly wane (even though countries in the tropics are right now fighting the pandemic). He wanted us to believe that the coronavirus was just “another flu bug” like the ones we experience every year, even though the experts said this one was not a flu bug and was more dangerous.
If Mr. Trump insists on going on his own “gut feeling” about when we can stop worrying about the coronavirus and let everyone go back to work, Congress will need to step in and prevent him from acting imprudently. So far, governors of the states are leading the way more effectively, and I hope they continue to do so. We need a leader who is capable of understanding what the experts are recommending, not someone who rarely listens to anyone else.