As the Coronavirus began to spread around the world, the Trump administration dragged their feet — big time. By the end of February, President Donald Trump himself was still publicly proclaiming that concern over the virus was a hoax, and by early the following month, he was still hesitating to even formally declare a national emergency over the spreading virus, reportedly in part because of fear about the impact on public image of his administration. This weekend on Fox News Sunday, tech entrepreneur-turned global health advocate Bill Gates implicitly shamed the Trump team for their inaction, poignantly pointing out the success stories from countries in which leaders took the virus seriously from the start.
Host Chris Wallace asked Gates:
‘How much did it cost us in terms of the spread of this disease, that one or two months that we lost?’
Gates responded by discussing stories of the countries that did not lose one or two months. As has been widely shared, South Korea reported their first case of the Coronavirus around the very same day that the U.S. did, and the outbreak there is already almost completely under control. In the U.S., it’s uncontained and out of control — and a key difference is that South Korea got a staggering number of tests done far before the U.S., enabling better virus tracking.
Gates, who has criticized Trump in the past, explained:
‘Well there are countries like Taiwan that are exemplary — saw the problem and really got the testing, community-wide testing done very well. They prioritized who got tested. And so they won’t either have the disease or the economic effect other countries will have. China, by late January, was taking it seriously, and so their ability to get the cases to come down has been dramatic. South Korea has done that, and so there are lessons that we’re learning from. We’re all in this together. We’ve got to get rid of Coronavirus from the entire world.’
He pointed out that issues may soon crop up in countries in Africa that have yet to experience major Coronavirus outbreaks but could soon.
— FoxNewsSunday (@FoxNewsSunday) April 5, 2020
Taiwan has reported a total of just 363 Coronavirus cases. In South Korea, where authorities conducted ten times as many tests as the U.S. in the early weeks of the countries’ respective outbreaks, just over 10,200 cases have been reported — far fewer than the U.S. The United States has reported over 311,000 cases and almost 8,500 Coronavirus deaths.
After Trump wasted valuable, lifesaving time in the early weeks and months of the outbreak, he and his team have turned to increasingly belligerent methods as the pandemic has progressed. They’ve even derided the idea that states should be approaching the federal government for help at all, although it’s thoroughly unclear what on earth the Strategic National Stockpile of supplies is there for if not to help the states in times of grave public health crisis like the present.
Sens. Duckworth, Markey, Warren, and Hirono are demanding an independent investigation into potential improper political interference in the management of the Strategic National Stockpile —including the deletion of online info to reflect Kushner's remarks. https://t.co/UxGSD4n6gm
— Kyle Griffin (@kylegriffin1) April 4, 2020
Trump has consistently politicized the crisis. He’s claimed that those duly covering the dismal sides of the outbreak are conspiring to make him look bad, and he’s suggested that those trying to secure lifesaving supplies are “complainers.”
Who thinks Trump and Kushner are hoarding the strategic stockpile of medical resources to kill blue state voters and save the red ones when they finally start having problems?
— Andrea Junker (@Strandjunker) April 4, 2020