Following ample warnings, Trump did nothing

Jessica Boyajian, Staff

Two years before COVID-19, President Donald Trump’s administration disbanded the National Safety Council (NSC), whose job it was to respond pandemics.

This is just one example of how Trump’s administration set us up to fail in responding to COVID-19. 

The first known instance of a Coronavirus outbreak was in 2003 when the SARS outbreak spread from China as well. And while it was obviously not COVID-19, they are of the same origin and virus family. The Center of Disease Control (CDC) now knows that, like SARS, COVID-19 found its origin in bats. 

In 2005, an outbreak of the influenza virus alerted many people to the danger of a pandemic spreading, and the professionals took note. Some, like Jennifer Horney, a professor of epidemiology at the University of Delaware, has been preparing since then. 

Four years later, there was another influenza outbreak, H1N1(pdm09). This pandemic killed up to half a million in its first year of circulation, most below the age of 65. 

Since H1N1, doctors had been working to avoid an outbreak and reduce the risks of a pandemic caused by a virus in the same family as H1N1. In two weeks, the CDC had created a candidate vaccine virus and the Emergency Operations Center was activated to coordinate a response to the emerging public health threat. 

It wasn’t until 2015 that our government became aware of the coronavirus circulating. It was then that a Harvard study found that a SARS-like virus was circulating in bats and would infect humans shortly. In fact, Bill Gates gave a TED talk in 2015 that now seems like eerie prognostication.

Then, in 2018, Trump’s administration disbanded the NSC and cut funding for the CDC. It was also this year that the intelligence community warned that a coronavirus outbreak, like the Middle East Respiratory Syndrome coronavirus, would emerge soon. 

Now, it’s 2020, and the country has had years to prepare for a pandemic like this. And while this is not completely President Trump’s fault, his initial response, telling Americans “this is going to disappear” and “we have it totally under control” was specious and dangerous.

He also set a bad example with regards to social distancing and continues to not educate himself with regard to the virus and its victims, misgendering the first death in Washington State. 

It’s been months since the first instance of COVID-19 in the United States. In late March, Trump told Americans “We had no warning.” His administration has failed to react to the warnings, and now citizens are paying the price.