Trump response to pandemic a failing of unimaginable proportions
President Donald Trump speaks during a press briefing with the coronavirus task force, at the White House, Thursday, March 19, 2020, in Washington. Food and Drug Administration Commissioner Dr. Stephen Hahn, right, and Vice President Mike Pence listen. As with most of the task force's press briefings lately, they were light on useful information but heavy on effusive praise for Trump. | Evan Vucci / AP

Donald Trump’s March 19 press conference on the coronavirus crisis sweeping the country provided the world with yet another display of his massive failure as a president.

It was a rambling diatribe that gave the press almost no information about critical issues.

Just one example of his failure had to do with the availability of the protective equipment needed by our health care workers. The Trump and Pence answer was that these things are being produced, but no assurances were given as to how and when they would reach hospitals.

Outrageously, the Surgeon General went to the podium and presented nothing specific, except general praise for Donald Trump’s handling of the crisis. Earlier, Trump’s CDC told our health care workers that it was ok to re-use old face masks and that they could always tie bandanas around their faces.

On the question of respirators, which will be needed to keep tens of thousands of sick Americans breathing and which need to be manufactured on a mass scale, the president incredibly insisted that the nation’s governors should be doing this. “They always did this,” Trump said, “and now they are running to the federal government and asking us to do it.” A sorrier and sadder comparison to presidents who, in the past, led the nation through various crises could not possibly have been imagined.

He lied yesterday about sending two naval ships to the rescue. It turns out that both those ships are in maintenance and will not be ready for a long time yet. That announcement, like most of his press conferences, was simply another nice-sounding but false pronouncement.

Reports out of Italy today say that there are problems with authorities not being able to handle the large numbers of dead bodies in some communities. In the face of this serious war the people of the world are fighting, we get incredibly poor management from our national leadership.

Trump did do something at today’s press conference that he is good at, however. He bashed the media, accusing them of accepting “Chinese propaganda” and of not explaining to the public how he (Trump) has led the world in key aspects of the fight against the coronavirus. Everyone in the world, he said, is now following his example of closing borders and the press is not giving him credit for this.

He told reporters that he is considering banning 75% of them from future press conferences and just allowing in the reporters he likes.

How unfortunate that his Republican backers did not act to remove him from office when he was impeached. Because they exonerated him, we now face the most serious crisis in our recent history with a president totally unfit to hold his office.

He gave us today a press conference with no specifics and only pie-in-the-sky promises. It was simply “do your best everyone,” “governors, it’s your responsibility” and “everything will be great when we come out of this.”

There is, as of yet, no pipeline to funnel supplies or money to the hospitals. Nothing.

The funding that hospitals need is needed now.

There are no field hospitals being constructed to handle the many thousands who cannot now be accommodated.

Supplies are not being manufactured, and there are no pipelines to get them to the hospitals.

A rural hospital reported today that they have as little as one box of gloves left.

The people are doing their part with social distancing. Health care workers are out there putting their lives on the line for everyone else.

And the Trump administration, as noted by some, is doing even less than Nero did when Rome burned. At least the emperor fiddled.

The American people are in great danger, and we have a president whose inaction is making things worse, not better.

It’s difficult for many to even think about politics at a time like this. We’re going to have to make sure, nevertheless, that Trump is out of office on Election Day and replaced with someone who can provide the kind of leadership needed in these times.


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.