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Bankole: Coronavirus reveals America's vulnerability

Bankole Thompson

The United States is the globe’s leading superpower. We drum that fact into the ears of the world almost every day. President Donald Trump brags too often and reminds our adversaries, including Iran, how much military might we have and what he could do to the fools that mess with the United States.

Yet the world is watching with amazement the disturbing spectacle unraveling in America, as we struggle to contain a virus that has crippled our everyday life. From the closing of schools, suspension of major league sports to the avoidance of large public gatherings, social isolation is becoming the order of the day.

“We have never before seen a pandemic sparked by a coronavirus,” World Health Organization Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus said last week. “This is the first pandemic caused by a coronavirus. And we have never before seen a pandemic that can be controlled, at the same time.”

The global pandemic is playing out across the nation and testing our disaster preparedness. What’s more frightening, however, is the fact President Trump was made aware of this major public health disaster at the beginning of the year when it was first detected in Wuhan, China, and did little to prepare.

Instead of leading in a time of crisis, Trump in typical fashion turned to blaming his likely 2020 opponent, former vice president Joe Biden.

President Donald Trump speaks during a meeting with Irish Prime Minister Leo Varadkar in the Oval Office of the White House, Thursday, March 12, 2020. A close aide to Brazil’s president who attended a dinner with Donald Trump at Mar-a-Lago over the weekend tested positive for coronavirus on the same day.

“Sleepy Joe Biden was in charge of the H1N1 swine flu epidemic which killed thousands of people. The response was one of the worst on record. Our response is one of the best, with fast action of border closings & and a 78 percent approval rating, the highest on record ...,” Trump tweeted on March 12.

Ron Klain, who served as chief of staff to Biden, responded to the president with some startling reality.

“The Obama administration tested 1 million people for H1N1 in the first month after the first U.S. diagnosed case. The first U.S. coronavirus was 50 + days ago. And we haven’t even tested 10,000 people yet,” Klain wrote on twitter. 

Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, told a congressional hearing that America has basically failed to meet the challenge of testing as coronavirus begins to take a toll.

“The system is not really geared to what we need right now. That is a failing. Let’s admit it,” Fauci said in his testimony.

That’s not a Republican or Democratic talking point: It is simply a scientific fact that exposes the incompetence of an administration losing ground. If this outbreak continues to consume our states and cities, while testing remains outside of the reach of everyday people who feel vulnerable, Biden won't need to break a sweat to make the case to voters that he should become the next president. The coronavirus will do that for him, and that is a political reality Trump knows very well.

It appears the White House and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are traveling two different roads on how this issue should be handled. This sends confusing signals to the public.

While the CDC issues more direct warnings about the crisis, Trump plays “Mr. tough guy” on television, refusing to get tested even after interacting with the Brazilian president’s press secretary, who tested positive for the coronavirus days afterward. After he was pummeled with questions about his reluctance at a Friday White House press briefing, Trump finally got tested and the result came back negative.

The president’s opinions, which often are not rooted in any scientific data, add to the confusion. For example, during a debate about evacuating a cruise ship in California, which had infected passengers in it, Trump said, “Do I want to bring all those people off? People would like me to do it. I would rather have them stay on, personally. I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship that wasn’t our fault.” 

That statement is a good representation of where we are right now. This is as Trumpian as it gets.

bankole@bankolethompson.com

Twitter: @BankoleDetNews

Catch “Redline with Bankole Thompson,” which is broadcast at 11 a.m. weekdays on Superstation 910AM.