America’s biggest threats: Donald Trump and the Coronavirus


Graphic by Angelina Zheng

Samantha Katovich, Staff Writer

When the first U.S. case of COVID-19 appeared on Jan. 21, 2020, it created a new wave of chaos and attention in the media. Adding to this chaos were the conflicting messages distributed by both the Chinese and American governments at the time. This contradicted a message that the Chinese government had previously published stating that transmission of the virus by contact was impossible. Despite this, President Donald Trump assured Americans, stating “We have it under control.”

Roughly a month later, the CDC went on to create a travel ban on Wuhan so that no American could travel there and risk exposure. While many American laboratories began the process of vaccine creation, the government’s laissez-faire policy caused a feeling of calm for many. This fantasy would very quickly be ruined, however, as the number of U.S. cases only increased. The United States government upheld its travel ban and created a nationwide health emergency by putting $50 billion into statewide funding for hospitals and the unemployed, but did little else. Perhaps if Trump had done more at the very beginning, the United States would not be in the turmoil that it is in now.

“It will all work out well.” Donald Trump tweeted on Jan. 24. “In particular, on behalf of the American People, I want to thank President Xi!” Despite the whirlwind of chaos surrounding him, Trump continued to act as though the virus was not as big of a deal as it appeared. This became a trend of his as the virus only continued to grow. For example, he claimed that the virus would go away once the weather became warmer, lied about the United State’s fatality rate compared to other countries, and stated that the virus was a Democratic hoax and not a problem out of the political sphere. Recently, proof has appeared in the news as evidence that Trump knew the risks of the Coronavirus from the start, yet refused to acknowledge them. In doing so, he not only risked his country’s safety but also the safety of others nearby.

One journalist, Bob Woodward, interviewed Trump in his new book, Rage, and showed that not only did Trump know how serious the virus could be, but he purposely told the public otherwise. Trump stated, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.” In fact, Trump went to China during the start of the virus to meet with Chinese President Xi Jinping. There he learned about the devastating effects that the virus could have on his country, but his stubbornness to appeal to the American people stopped him from telling the truth. This stubbornness and lack of common sense became more obvious when Woodward interviewed one of Trump’s staff members, Kayleigh McEnany.

McEnany has a history of picking up Trump’s baggage, in addition to being extremely loyal to the Trump administration, so it comes as no surprise that Trump’s press secretary completely took his side over how he covered up the outbreaks. When questioned at a press interview, she continued to say, over and over again, how Trump only cares about the safety of the American people, and that he in no way downplayed the Coronavirus. Additionally, when questioned about a rally that the president held under strict social distancing orders by the state, she replied that “People have a First Amendment right, if they so choose, to show up and express their political opinion in the form of a peaceful protest, which is what the President held.”

This need to divert from the direct question being asked multiple times shows how many people are covering for Trump and the size of the double standard that has been created. When Woodward finally asked Trump about the American lives that had been lost to the virus, the president responded with an answer that directly reflects his presidency.  Trump stated that “The virus has nothing to do with me. It’s not my fault. It’s — China let the damn virus out.”

Donald Trump has spent his four years as president blaming his issues and faults on other people, so his response to the Coronavirus outbreak in early 2020 was no surprise. His failure to take consequential action during a worldwide pandemic shows his lack of dedication toward helping the American people. In pretending the virus wasn’t a big deal, he not only led to the deaths and injuries of thousands of current Americans, but also the future of America as a whole. People around the world have spent the last six months worrying about who the virus will affect next, but maybe their fear was directed towards the wrong antagonist. Maybe instead of resenting the virus itself, they should have blamed the powerful man with a platform who failed to take action.