Trump “has blood on his hands,” says Pulitzer-winning Boston Globe
Donald Trump | Evan Vucci/AP

In a powerful editorial the Pulitzer Prize-winning Boston Globe, not known for espousing liberal or left viewpoints, is condemning President Trump as “unfit for a pandemic.”

“Much of the suffering and death coming was predictable. The president has blood on his hands,” the Globe says in its sweeping condemnation of the president for not initiating a unified, competent federal response to the crisis.

The editorial comes as hospitals load the bodies from their overflowing morgues into refrigerated trucks pulling up outside their doors.

It comes as Americans fear the worst of the suffering and death is still yet to come.

“It’s worth remembering that the reach of the virus here is not attributable to an act of God or a foreign invasion, but a colossal failure of leadership,” the paper declared.

“It begged for a president to deliver clear, consistent, scientifically sound messages on the state of the epidemic and its solutions, to reassure the public amid their fear, and to provide steady guidance to cities and states. And it demanded a leader who would put the country’s well-being first, above near-term stock market returns and his own re-election prospects, and who would work with other nations to stem the tide of COVID-19 cases around the world.”

The editors also took issue with the Trump TV show presented by the president and his “team” during prime news time every evening. During these shows, the editors say, Trump “embodies callousness, self-concern, and lack of compass.”

The Trump administration’s “critical errors,” the editors warn, “will cost thousands if not hundreds of thousands of American lives,” and “come November, there must be a reckoning for the lives lost, and for the vast, avoidable suffering about to ensue under the president’s watch.”

Bina Venkataraman, the Boston Globe’s editorial page editor, insisted that the charge the president has blood on his hands is in no way an exaggeration.

She said that when Trump was telling the country there were only 15 cases and that they were “going down to zero very soon,” he had the information about what was really coming. She said that her newspaper has maintained a long list of statements and promises the president has made since he told that initial lie about the pandemic back in January. She called it a “long list of lies.”

Even yesterday, on the daily Trump show, the president said that he was holding back 10,000 ventilators in the national stockpile so they could be available where needed.

Today we learn from the CDC that the stockpiles of protective equipment are almost empty and that the small number of ventilators on hand in that stockpile are themselves broken or otherwise inoperable. It turns out that a year ago Trump canceled the maintenance program designed to keep them in good, usable shape. The government in the last few weeks, in an act of criminal neglect at best, sent out up to 10,000 ventilators that do not work.

In Massachusetts, it appears, the Trump administration actually stopped a shipment of protective equipment headed for that state. The shipment was from a private contractor dealing with the state. The feds stopped the shipment and delivered it to a location still unknown. States which Trump carried in the last election, unlike the Bay State, are receiving the materials they order.

Illinois, which has a Democratic governor, was recently told to expect 300,000 good quality N95 masks for use by health care providers. Instead they received 300,000 of the paper surgical masks that cost 25 cents apiece to produce.

The lack of a centralized, federal response to the pandemic has left Americans with confusing and conflicting information. Every day, for example, the nation sees diagrams of infection curves and hears dates on which the apex is expected to be reached. Other experts note, however, that epidemics come in waves and that the reaching of that first apex in no way indicates that we are out of the woods.

There have been conflicting reports on the usefulness of wearing masks.

Daily we hear new official figures on the progress of the disease. Today, for example, the confirmed number of infected is around a quarter of a million, nationally. But on Tuesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, the chief of the CDC, said information suggests that as many as 25% of infected individuals are asymptomatic and are spreading the virus without knowing. Without a massive increase in testing, though, even this number is impossible to verify. Redfield himself has been absent from the daily briefings recently, despite the fact that one would expect the leader of the CDC to be a major participant.

Dr. Luciana Borio, a former member of the National Security Council under President Obama, had both her pandemic readiness unit and her job eliminated when Trump took over.

She noted yesterday her displeasure with the focus on “reaching the apex.” The day after the apex is reached, she said, “will be the second worst day of the crisis,” and even then there is no coordinated federal plan yet for the coming waves. “The focus on the curve,” she said, “is misleading; epidemics come in waves.”

There has been talk of the pandemic possibly taking a respite in the hot months of summer. “We don’t know that for sure,” she said, and she pointed out that even if that happens, testing will be paramount to find out where we are and where we have to go. Trump has said, of course, that the testing problem is solved, and when Vice President Pence was asked yesterday what happened to the more than 4,000,000 tests he had promised weeks ago, he gave only an evasive answer.

Yesterday, Trump canceled the coming Obamacare enrollment period for people who don’t have health insurance. He refused to answer a question about this and turned the mic over to Pence, who also failed to answer, saying only that people could apply for Medicaid. Many states carried by Trump in the last election, of course, have cut off that option for their citizens.

Weeks ago, the Pentagon said it had 2,000 ventilators available to send out to the states. As of yesterday, it said no one from the federal government has told them what to do with those ventilators.

Failure to set up a national supply chain is creating problems that clearly amount to criminal neglect.

A private company that has made 280 million protective masks, for example, is selling and shipping them to companies and countries overseas at the very time healthcare workers in the U.S. are dying for lack of that equipment.

FEMA yesterday said it has not taken any action one way or the other on this situation.

Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi said this morning that there is a move underway in Congress to begin setting up an investigation into how the pandemic crisis is being managed. Such a probe can’t come a moment too soon.

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John Wojcik
John Wojcik

John Wojcik is Editor-in-Chief of People's World. He joined the staff as Labor Editor in May 2007 after working as a union meat cutter in northern New Jersey. There, he served as a shop steward and a member of a UFCW contract negotiating committee. In the 1970s and '80s, he was a political action reporter for the Daily World, this newspaper's predecessor, and was active in electoral politics in Brooklyn, New York.