Tyrrell: The Trump administration is not prepared for coronavirus


Columnist Eileen Tyrrell believes the Trump administration is not prepared for coronavirus. She writes that the administration stalled when it was time to prepare for coronavirus, so it is on us to reduce the spread.

Eileen Tyrrell

America is not prepared for the coronavirus and the president is making the situation worse thanks to his favorite pastime, lying to the American public. 

When the outbreak first began in Wuhan, China, they cracked down with its typical authoritarian playbook, sending drones to scare civilians into wearing masks, blocking virtual private networks and arresting people for spreading misinformation. However questionable these tactics may be, the crackdown gave us time to organize and prepare for the inevitable pandemic. 

We squandered that opportunity. 

When we should have been preparing hospitals and test kits and mass-producing appropriate masks, the administration stalled, with President Trump claiming that the U.S. “pretty much shut it down coming in from China.” Clearly that has no factual basis, considering the U.S. now has over 700 known cases with likely thousands more undiscovered. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has been slow to react; lack of accurate reporting due to limited access to testing has hindered the governmental response and sowed confusion about what steps citizens should actually take to protect themselves. Not only that, the country is wildly unprepared to deal with a pandemic of any type — in 2018, the Trump administration got rid of the entire pandemic response chain of command in the government. In no uncertain terms — we are not ready to handle the coronavirus. 

It seems to me that regardless of how systematically unprepared our country is, the very least we should be able to expect from our government is factual information and the promise that it is taking this threat seriously. Yet we have received neither from the president. Instead of tweeting out basic hygiene tips and advice, Trump has somehow blamed the Obama administration for lack of coronavirus test kits and made it another issue on the partisan battleground. He has downplayed the threat of the virus the whole time and also spread misinformation, such as stating that “Anybody who wants to get a test gets a test” despite the fact that fewer than 2,000 have been conducted in the U.S. so far and tests are nowhere near widely available. 

There is certainly a call to keep people calm and allay their fears, as I wrote about in my last column, but not at the sake of reality. And reality, right now,  is looking pretty daunting. Disregarding the truth at this point and lying to the public to save face isn’t just frustrating at this point, it’s dangerous. Lives are actually on the line. Trump is gambling with them in his effort to minimize the threat we face.

I wish I could say that we can count on the Trump administration to step up and take necessary measures to reduce the spread of coronavirus, but that seems increasingly unlikely. Instead, the responsibility is on us, as individuals. Wash your hands frequently and stay away from sick people. If you think you’re sick, stay home from school and work and self-isolate. Wear a mask. We can each do our part to keep each other safe — and cross our fingers that our government does the same.