Many people have wondered how it could be that Trump’s approvals for handling the coronavirus could be going up when Trump has done such a bad job of keeping Americans safe as the pandemic approached our country and delivered its body blow to our health care system, our economy and our chance to save American lives and businesses by failing to roll out a federal response that is planful, strategic, and based on facts and data.

As the crisis deepens, Trump’s numbers are going down.

47 percent of voters feel the administration isn’t doing enough in response to the outbreak, greater than the 40 percent who feel the administration is doing the right amount.

Two weeks ago, 43 percent said the administration wasn’t doing enough in the days following the initial measures deployed to reduce the impacts of the virus (Politico Morning Consult poll 4/1/20)

New poll from Navigator 4/3/20 shows 50% of Americans do not approve of the way Trump is handling the crisis, a 7 point difference.

  • Even as nearly all Americans are watching at least some of Trump’s press conferences every day, the public continues to have serious concerns about his handling of the pandemic.
  • Americans want Trump and his administration to take stronger action and are particularly concerned about the lack of help for medical professionals.
  • Direct experience with coronavirus – whether illness or job losses – crosses borders and party lines.

As the number of fatalities grows in the next few weeks, Trump’s numbers will probably go down more because Trump cannot help being Trump.  It is likely the intensity of disapproval will go up.

Let’s be clear.  Every country on earth knew about this pandemic in January.  Trump’s claims that no one knew what was coming are just plain false.  He’s lying.  He and his entire administration were on notice.

Once on notice, however, our administration engaged in denial and failed to lead the country for two very critical, essential months.  While Trump and Fox News and other right-wing pundits were telling viewers and listeners throughout February and into March that the pandemic was a Democratic hoax and that coronavirus was no worse than the flu, we should have been getting prepared.  We weren’t.

We weren’t prepared in large part because of the failure of leadership by Trump and his team.  Trump has always believed conspiracy theories.  He has always been a salesman, selling false hope but making it sound great.  He did that in real estate and with his phony Trump University and many other ventures.  He’s at it again in his pandemic briefings.  He tells us he’s number one on Facebook .  Who cares!!? He isn’t #1 when it comes to helping our country to navigate this pandemic.

Trump’ s own White House Council on Economic Advisors produced a report in 2019 that put this administration on notice.  It warned that a pandemic could devastate the US economy and warned that it would be a mistake to treat a pandemic as if it was a seasonal flu.  Alex Azar, HHS Secretary, and Tim Morrison, special asst to Trump, both expressed their concerns about a pandemic as a foreseeable problem at the BioDefense Summit in April, 2019.  Trump did not pay any attention to any of this.

Trump tells us instead that he should get some kind of award because in the beginning he was told by “many people” that the right response to the coronavirus was to “ride it out” and “think of it as a flu” but he is rejecting their counsel.  Who are these people?  Many of them are right-wing ideologues who seem to think that survival of the fittest includes allowing 1.1 to 2.2 million Americans to die in the interest of maintaining a strong GDP.

What they foolishly did not factor in was that in our country most people are human beings with stronger morals and compassion.  We could not callously ignore thousands of mounting body bags of all those people who would die while other countries that managed the pandemic well with strong, early shut downs, would have far better numbers and return faster to a healthier economy.  These right-wing ideologues also did not factor in the decimation of our health care system as huge numbers of people with acute respiratory failure will tend to come to the hospital hoping to get help and our hospitals will be crushed as a result.  And they are also idiots if they think you can have an economic recovery while a pandemic is raging across the country.  This is a huge public health crisis that must be solved before we can get an economic recovery.

During that same time period, January until mid-March, Germany saw what was coming and jumped into action to test test test, identify carriers and track and isolate them.  As a result, Germany’s hospitals are not overrun with Covid cases now. Their numbers are not mounting astronomically as ours are.  Other countries are doing much better: Taiwan, South Korea, and Iceland.  Our country now has the shameful distinction of having the largest number of cases of ANY country in the world.  And we are currently on track to have the most deaths of any country in the world too thanks to Trump and his failure to lead.  100,000 to 200,000 or more American deaths is not something to celebrate.  It is failure and chaos not leadership.

Trump says there is testing for anyone who wants it.  He says he hasn’t heard of problems.  False.  Wrong.  Many governors have told him point blank they are having this problem, including Republican governors like Larry Hogan of Maryland as well as Gov Pritzker and Gov. Cuomo. If he hasn’t heard the complaints, it’s because he is failing to listen.

Trump promised in early briefings over 2 weeks ago that there would be drive thru testing sites in parking lots at CVS pharmacies and Walgreens coming right away.  Wrong.  There are only 4 of these testing sites so far in the entire country.

Trump claims there is no problem for governors getting ventilators or other equipment including PPE even though governors are widely reporting that they are having to bid on the open market and on eBay against each other and against FEMA itself (the federal government) to get ventilators and personal protective equipment (masks, gloves, gowns, shields etc) to protect themselves from being exposed to coronavirus.  This is driving the prices up and causing erratic distribution, price gauging and profiteering.

Trump could put an end to that by asserting control at the federal level with the Defense Production Act because federal contracts have a clause that bars that kind of profiteering.  Any other president would have asserted that authority by now.  Trump does not because he wants to be able to blame the states if things go badly.  This is a continuation of his mob boss behavior.  The boss always designates a fall guy and never takes responsibility to avoid being blamed.

Trump may also be trying to have it both ways- allowing some states to have lax stay at home rules while others have stricter rules.  But the virus doesn’t care about state lines.  It is like a forest fire, raging across the country. That is why Trump should order the WHOLE country to stay at home.  Which he is not doing.

In addition, the Trump administration seemed to be shockingly unaware that we have been  sending our own precious supply of PPE to other countries including the Philippines and China despite the fact that our own hospitals would soon be desperately in need of this gear.  Our protective gear stockpile is nearly depleted according to DHS.  In February Pompeo tweeted about how our country was sending China our PPE in a humanitarian gesture “because it saves lives.” Just a month later our hospitals desperately need that very same gear to save American lives.  Was it ignorance? (No idea that we would need PPE in the coming pandemic)?  Was it arrogance? (Our very special, exceptional country won’t be hit by a pandemic). Whatever it was, this administration has only just now figured out that we should have held onto any personal protective equipment we could so that our health care workers don’t end up dead.  We are reduced to asking Russia to help us out by sending us these supplies.  Putin beats Trump once again.

If Trump were doing a good job, he would be directing the federal government to centralize the acquisition of these items and have a federally led system in place to rush them to the affected areas of our country.  He should put a general in charge (something Joe Biden has suggested!!) because generals are used to strategic planning and moving armies and supplies in a war.  Instead, Trump has disowned responsibility, saying he is “not a shipping clerk.”  Well, he needs to be a shipping clerk if that’s what it takes to save American lives!  Governor Pritzker is taking on that job for the State of Illinois.  You do what you have to do.  In this case Trump needs to act now and act fast to help the states.  He owes it to them because it was his bad management that created the problem in the first place.

Trump has said “I take no responsibility at all.”  That line is going to haunt him.  He needs to take responsibility.  He is the commander-in-chief and he is supposed to keep all of us safe.  Instead, he still wants money to build the wall at the southern border! As if that would help keep the virus out!?!  This pandemic is not coming in at the southern border.  It came in from everywhere brought in by people who took boats and planes, people with legitimate passports, including rich people who travel globally, who were NOT checked at our border for a fever or other signs of the virus for way too long. Why weren’t customs officials checking for fevers when people came into the US until March 13th?  The pandemic spread started in January.  Our first Covid death in the US was at the end of February.

We are also learning that 25% to 50% of people who have the virus do not have symptoms.  That means this virus is getting spread “Typhoid Mary” style, by people who do not think they have it, but DO have it and are spreading it right and left by interacting with others.

The way to deal with that spread is to test test test! to track the people who are silent spreaders and keep them isolated for the requisite time for them to battle the virus in their own systems after which they won’t be infectious.  Those people who have won the battle against the virus can be located using an antibody test although it takes time to develop antibodies (a few weeks).  We should test to find those people because antibodies in their blood might be capable of helping other Americans who are fighting for their lives against this virus. Transfusion of those antibodies might help them survive.  As for masks, once we have enough of them for the front-line providers, everyone needs to wear a mask because you might yourself be a silent spreader of coronavirus and have no clue that you are a danger to others. (Note: the CDC is just today changing that recommendation to say Americans should wear masks.)

The fact that that Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have somehow convinced Trump to listen to them, is a big deal.  It is good news for sure.  The fact that Trump says we need to prepare for “a hell of a bad two weeks”, is the right message.  It should have been delivered two months ago.  At least Trump is trying to come to terms with reality.  That is a step in the right direction.  But there is much more he needs to do. For starters he should listen to Joe Biden.  Biden has excellent ideas and experience with something similar- the Ebola epidemic.  He would be a good person for Trump to consult and an even better person for us to elect as president in November.