At a White House meeting early last fall with Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar and advisor Jared Kushner, Donald Trump was furious. Dr. Azar was attempting to convince the President of the effectiveness of a national mask mandate and how COVID-19 would ravage the country in the coming months. Kushner attempted to convince the President of the imminent need for more testing. However, Trump seemed to be more concerned with the optics of his reelection campaign, and not being one to mince words said flatly to Kushner,
“I’m going to lose. And its going to be your fault because of the testing”.
Almost a full year after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the US, nearly every state in the Union is now in the midst of an untamed crisis. Infection rates are rising every single day. Deaths have soared past previous records set back in early August of last year and relief is being stymied by an Administration that has seemingly given up any desire to provide a concrete relief plan. Led by one man’s incessant ego and desire to remain in power despite being voted out of office, the coordinated effort to contain this pandemic has failed on nearly every level.
With over 22 million cases confirmed in the United States currently, the question has to be asked: “How and why did we allow ourselves to get here”?
It certainly wasn’t by accident. There is enough blame to go around with state Governors not helping the situation. In cases like New York and California, the premature reopening of businesses and restaurants are responsible for the severe level of infections we see today. However, the lack of the federal government’s coordination with these states makes the failure complete and the Trump Administration is squarely to blame for that. Because of this, a second wave has gripped the nation, fueled by soaring cases in states like California, Arizona, Texas and Florida.
Late last year, the FDA approved the use of two vaccines produced by Pfizer and Moderna. As of this week, over 9 million Americans have received their shots, with this first round being aimed at front-line paramedics and healthcare workers. Unfortunately, the rollout has been marred with complications.
Hospitals and healthcare centers are left with no choice to waste precious vaccine dosages due to the types of syringes they are being given by the federal government. In other cases, many areas cannot afford the types of refrigerators needed to store the vaccines due to the fact that they must be kept at a cold enough temperature to last until needed.
Since this first wave’s rollout has been so slow, an inappropriate number of vaccines have had to be thrown away. Late last year, Administration officials had initially set a goal for 20 million people to be vaccinated by the end of 2020. As of the end of December, only 5.3 million people had received their first shot.
Under an ordinarily incompetent President, these failures could be expected. Trump however, has never been an ordinary kind of President. His unprecedented stalling of accepting the election results from last November delayed the Biden transition team’s work to create a structured policy response. Many officials who are part of the transition are lamenting the lack of previous infrastructure that they must now contend with. A senior Biden team member is quoted as saying,
“What were are inheriting from the Trump Administration is much worse than we could’ve imagined”.
Yesterday, Biden and Vice President-elect Kamala Harris laid out their ambitious $1.9 trillion plan to combat the effects of this pandemic, complete with another round of stimulus checks, insurance extension and vaccine distributions.
Because of Trump’s unwillingness to sign a Coronavirus relief package last December, millions of people who rely on pandemic-related unemployment programs will experience a break in payments. This uneven and chaotic plan has made Joe Biden’s job a lot harder than it needed to be. It is a major reason as to why the incoming Administration is prepared to spend such a staggering amount of money.
With a new President, the situation is sure to improve quickly. But with all things considered, Trump is a uniquely bad President to be in office during a pandemic of this magnitude. As he was concerned with overturning a fair and free election in the waning days of his presidency, the federal government’s response became of little concern and the consequences will be ours to reckon with for the long run.