How Donald Trump failed the world on Covid-19 epidemic


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(USA President Donald J Trump)

President Donald Trump was warned early that an epidemic was coming. Instead of taking action, he focused on protecting gains in the economy to secure his reelection, then resorted to lying.

Chronology

Early January, the National Security Council office receives intelligence reports predicting the spread of the virus to the United States, and within weeks raised options like keeping Americans home from work and shutting down cities the size of Chicago. Mr. Trump would avoid such steps until March.

Same January, Trump is told about a memo produced by his trade adviser, Peter Navarro detailing the potential risks of a coronavirus pandemic: as many as half a million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic losses. He ignored that.

Next, Trump’s own health and human services secretary, Alex M. Azar II, directly warned him of the possibility of a pandemic during a call on Jan. 30, the second warning he delivered to the president about the virus in two weeks. Trump responded that Mr. Azar was being alarmist.

Come February, Mr. Azar publicly that the government was establishing a “surveillance” system in five American cities to measure the spread of the virus and enable experts to project the next hot spots. It was delayed for weeks.

By this time, the officials had concluded “We were flying the plane with no instruments.”

By the third week in February, the administration’s top public health experts concluded they should recommend to Mr. Trump a new approach that would include warning the American people of the risks and urging steps like social distancing and staying home from work.

The White House instead focused on messaging and crucial additional weeks went by before their views were reluctantly accepted by the president.

Hopefully, this tragedy can teach Americans that you only get what you vote for.

(The article was first published by Mr Dennis Onyango, the communication director office of former Prime Minister Raila Odinga)

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