This week Donald Trump’s lies and misdirections backfired, further emphasizing the harm he is causing to millions of Americans. This public health crisis requires a true leader, not someone who is willing to sacrifice human lives in order to retain power.
Trump’s White House steers the chaotic federal response to COVID-19, while Trump himself focuses on attacking Joe Biden, the presumptive Democratic presidential nominee, and promoting content defending his bad decisions.
- To start, some of Trump’s false claims have been recently exposed as such:
- Findings from a new report confirmed that more people died after using hydroxychloroquine than patients who were given routine care. Tragically, Trump’s recommendation of the drug as a “game-changer” without evidence of efficacy may have played a role in the needless loss of human life.
- News reports indicate that the World Health Organization, which Trump accused of “minimiz[ing] the threat very strong,” has been transmitting real-time information about the coronavirus to Trump and his administration since January.
- After anti-lockdown protests began across the country last weekend, Trump tweeted his support for the supposedly “grassroots” protesters, urging them to “liberate” states with Democratic governors who have issued strict stay-at-home orders. In fact, Trump was encouraging the highly funded and well-executed actions of far-right organizers.
- Trump has continued to foment argument with governors on both sides of the aisle who are fighting to protect their states from the virus. After telling governors last week that they were in charge of both securing testing supplies and deciding when and how they would reopen their economies, Trump spent much of this week directly contradicting himself. When Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan secured 500,000 testing kits from South Korea with the assistance of his wife, Trump lashed out against him and claimed that the federal government would have been happy to provide the tests if only Hogan had asked. Then, in response to Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp planning to partially reopen the state by the end of this week, Trump criticized Kemp for reopening “too soon.” No governor is safe from Trump’s haranguing, Democrat or Republican – and yet, Trump has been silent on the fact that his administration’s January appointment to lead the Department of Health and Human Services coronavirus task force had no experience in public health or medicine, and in fact was primarily experienced in breeding labradoodles.
- Seemingly without any forethought, Trump took to Twitter to announce that his administration planned to close the U.S. to all immigration until the pandemic has passed. In addition to stoking xenophobic sentiment when immigrants are already disproportionately struggling during the coronavirus, an executive order would change very little about current U.S. immigration rates, which have largely halted due to the pandemic. One day later, Trump backed away from his initial call and watered it down to a 60-day halt in issuing green cards, rather than suspending guest worker programs, after the business sector expressed concern about the economic toll of losing access to immigrant labor.
- Trump has “dangerously undermined truth” by continuing to attack the media and health experts during the pandemic. In his Wednesday briefing, Trump repeatedly downplayed the risk for coronavirus to have a debilitating resurgence in the fall and winter, vacillating between saying that either it wouldn’t return or that it would come back in a very limited way. These statements directly contradicted those of Dr. Anthony Fauci, the top medical expert on the White House’s coronavirus task force, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) Director Robert Redfield in the same briefing, both of whom warned of the significant damage that a resurgence of COVID-19 would have on people and the economy. To top it all off, in Thursday night’s press briefing he suggested that doctors should consider injecting toxic disinfectant into COVID-19 patients and asked the White House coronavirus response coordinator if she’d heard of sunlight being used to treat the infection.
- One of the most important indicators of Trump’s failure of leadership is his false promises about the country’s capacity for testing of COVID-19. In addition to the federal government seizing coronavirus test kits from state-bound shipments, Trump’s earlier assurances that the country would have 27 million tests completed by now were horribly overstated. As of April 23, the U.S. has only completed a little over four million tests in total, or a woefully scarce 140,000 tests daily.
- Lastly, since Trump weakened fuel economy standards last month, air pollutants in heavily industrialized parts of Houston have risen as much as 62 percent, according to a new analysis of air monitor readings done by Texas A&M. Further emphasizing his prioritization of certain special interests above the overall welfare of the American economy, Trump called for an oil industry bailout as soon as oil prices started to plunge earlier this week.
One news story that deserves an honorable mention this week is that, as The New York Times put it, Trump (the company) asked Trump (the administration) for hotel relief during the economic crisis caused by the pandemic – in the midst of smaller businesses around the country being unable to get the emergency funding that they need.
PFAW is working hard to make sure our members have as complete a picture of the pandemic’s effects as possible. This weekly round-up tracks Trump’s deplorable failures of leadership during the worst social and financial crisis this country has experienced since World War II. But COVID-19 has also magnified societal inequities that vulnerable communities have long endured – and the right wing continues its campaign against sense and truth. PFAW’s Right Wing Watch is tracking coverage of the far-right’s misdeeds, and a new PFAW blog series highlights how many historically marginalized communities across the country are disproportionately affected by coronavirus. Together, we can stay informed and hold leadership accountable during the coronavirus crisis and beyond.