America's wartime president, Donald Trump, appears to have a 15-day attention span when it comes to combating the coronavirus pandemic. Weary of the economic sacrifice required to slow the pandemic's spread, Trump now proposes easing workplace restrictions despite warnings from experts that the country is nowhere near the point when things can return to normal.
Trump's position marks a major departure from the kinds of methodical, science-based strategies recommended by experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases. Trump has reacted by back-benching Fauci while bringing in others who are more receptive to his unsubstantiated assertions during daily White House briefings.
For the good of the country, Americans should disregard Trump and accept the scientific reality. Catastrophe is just around the corner if the nation lets down its guard against this relentless foe. If Americans return to the workplace before the coronavirus is extinguished, the pandemic's toll could be in the millions.
Normally staunch Trump supporters like Rep. Liz Cheney, R-Wyoming, are calling out the president's assertions as nonsense. "There will be no normally functioning economy if our hospitals are overwhelmed and thousands of Americans of all ages, including our doctors and nurses, lay dying because we have failed to do what's necessary to stop the virus," Cheney tweeted.
Fauci refuses to let Trump distortions go unchallenged. Trump asserted at a White House briefing on Saturday that China had long known about the coronavirus but delayed alerting the world for three or four months. A day later, Fauci took issue with Trump's logic in an interview with Science magazine's Jon Cohen. The interview is reprinted on Thursday's op-ed page.
Cohen noted that China didn't even discover the virus until early December. "I know, but what do you want me to do? ..." Fauci responded. "I told the appropriate people, it doesn't comport, because two or three months earlier would have been September. The next time they sit down with him and talk about what he's going to say, they will say, 'By the way, Mr. President, be careful about this and don't say that.' But I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down. OK, he said it. Let's try and get it corrected for the next time."
Nevertheless, Trump "gets up and ad libs."
The president introduces factual errors and dangerous assertions into the public record. He destroys international goodwill and prompts members of the public to undertake reckless actions. At least three people have self-medicated with one Trump-touted drug, Chloroquine, and died. Chinese Americans have been attacked on the street after Trump insisted on labeling the pandemic the "Chinese virus."
If more Republicans like Cheney summoned the courage to speak up, the nation could more effectively combat this implacable coronavirus foe instead of continuing to feed Trump's implacable ego.
REPRINTED FROM THE ST. LOUIS POST-DISPATCH
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