A little more than two months after the outbreak of coronavirus in China, President Trump is facing a looming epidemic in the U.S.
At least 100 cases have been confirmed in the U.S., including several in Texas. Public health officials announced on Wednesday they have identified a likely positive case in the Houston area. Numbers are expected to rise according to CDC officials who recently said it’s only a matter of time before the virus becomes widespread.
True to his narcissistic form, Trump has so far made the crisis all about himself. To the president, valid criticisms against the administration’s handling of the virus are just political attacks. Likewise, concerns about the virus and its deadliness are not worth seriously assessing if they make him look bad.
This week during an appearance on Sean Hannity, the president accused the World Health Organization of spreading inaccurate facts about how many people the virus has killed.
“Well, I think the 3.4 percent is really a false number,” Trump said referring to the rate of fatalities reported by the WHO. “Now, and this is just my hunch…”
Trump truly set the stage for how his administration would handle the virus during a disastrous press conference late last month that included a lengthy list of misinformation, including telling reporters the number of cases were going down, and that the virus was contained and “airtight,” as well as overestimating how quickly a vaccine would be available (scientists predict at least a year).
“In confronting the first major health crisis of his presidency, Mr. Trump has made himself the primary source of information to the public with mixed results,” reported the New York Times. “Appearing before cameras sometimes multiple times a day to talk about the coronavirus, he has offered a consistently rosier assessment of the situation than health experts and has put forth unproven or even false assertions.”
Most recently on Wednesday, Trump began blaming the Obama administration for his own administration’s slow rollout of coronavirus testing.
While the virus’s outbreak in the U.S. is still relatively small compared to that of other countries like Italy and China, Trump’s inability to see the health crisis as nothing more than an inconvenient political moment is going to get Texans and other Americans sick.
To stop that, Texans will have to and should depend on the word of local, state and federal health agencies — and do their best to tune out a president who doesn’t appear very invested in their health and safety.
Photo: Alissa Ecker/CDC
Fernando covers Texas politics and government at the Texas Signal. Before joining the Signal, Fernando spent two years at the Houston Chronicle and previously interned at Houston’s NPR station News 88.7. He is a graduate of the University of Houston, Jack J. Valenti School of Communication, and enjoys reading, highlighting things, and arguing on social media. You can follow him on Twitter at @fernramirez93 or email at firstname.lastname@example.org