President Trump and the Virus

Some people hate the President.  Some people love him.  A number of liberal reporters and pundits are among the most virulent haters.  In their eyes, he can do nothing right. 

In my opinion, he has done a good job in dealing with the coronavirus crisis.  He is fully involved in fighting the pandemic while continuing the necessary direction of other areas of government.  He has kept the public informed about the crisis by means of frequent briefings.  He has listened to the experts and heeded their advice.  He has appointed excellent people to direct the government’s response.  He works closely with state governments.  He has gotten the private sector fully involved.  He takes decisive action as necessary.

In the process of informing the public about the crisis he continues to reveal some fundamental weaknesses.  He is not a good communicator.  In extemporaneous speaking he tends to choose his words poorly and is repetitive.  He does not refer to notes and sometimes is factually inaccurate. He also cannot resist a bit of braggadocio.  Like all of us, he is an imperfect human being.  Nevertheless, I believe he is the man for the job.

Recently some members of the media have been trying to create a division between Trump and one of his chief medical advisors, Dr. Anthony Fauci.  Leading questions are asked in an attempt to have the good doctor criticize the President.  Knowing Trump’s sensitivity and volatility, they are playing dice with our unified approach to the current health crisis.  Fortunately, Dr. Fauci has thus far resisted their efforts.

Other members of  the media criticize Trump for using the term “Chinese Coronavirus.”   They are saying the term is racist and could lead to mistreatment of our Chinese-American citizens.  This concern is ill-founded.  For years we have referred to the great influenza pandemic of 1918-1919 as the “Spanish Flu.”  It did not originate in Spain, and few people were stupid enough to blame Spaniards for the outbreak.  In this instance, the virus did originate in China, and some Chinese officials are attempting to place the onus on us.  Trump is correct to place the responsibility where it belongs.

What comes next in our fight against the coronavirus?

Up until now our major effort has been to slow the pandemic down.  There were several reasons for this.   Our health system was not prepared for a highly contagious, rapidly spreading virus of this sort.  Our medical professionals and hospitals would have been overwhelmed.  Our older, more vulnerable population would have been decimated. Slowing the spread of the disease saves lives even as we procure the facemasks, respirators, and other equipment needed to protect our care providers and supply our hospitals.  At the same time, it enables us to study the virus and possibly discover effective countermeasures.  We have a vast pharmacopeia in which we may find a medicine or combination of medicines that might be effective in treating the coronavirus.  Developing a vaccine will take much longer.

Efforts to slow the disease have been very costly and damaging to our economy, and our everyday life has undergone an unprecedented disruption.  Schools are closed, restaurants are closed, churches are closed, and organized sports have ceased.  Many people are hunkered down at home waiting for the crisis to pass.  And when will that be?

Within a few weeks we will have an adequate supply of medical supplies and hospital beds to meet anticipated demands.  At that point, probably no later than late April,  I believe that the current restrictions will be lifted, and most people will go back to work, schools will reopen, and sports will resume.  The speed at which things will return to normal will probably differ from state to state.  Also, special precautions may still be necessary for seniors and other more vulnerable citizens. All these developments will be expedited if we are successful in finding available medicines that are highly effective in treating the coronavirus.  I pray that happens.

It is possible that our shutdown will go on longer than I predict, but I cannot see it going into summer.  We have already been hit hard.  As Trump recently said, at some point the cost of our countermeasures (even in terms of lives lost) will exceed the costs incurred by resuming normal economic activities and standing up to the virus in a more conventional way.

I have neither inside knowledge nor expertise, but this is the way I see it.   



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