Friday, February 28, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He called the coronavirus a "hoax."

Trump told a campaign rally crowd today that the coronavirus threat was a Democratic "hoax," using the same word he prefers to explain away his election-year bargain with Russia and his attempt to blackmail Ukraine for help smearing a political rival.

The coronavirus, known as COVID-19, is not a hoax

Specifically, Trump said that the real threat (if any) from the rapidly spreading epidemic disease came from Democrats' immigration policies. He conjured up a picture of disease-ridden immigrants storming the US-Mexico border. 

It's not the first time Trump has tried to smear refugees as disease vectors. None of the current known cases in the U.S. had traveled to any part of Latin America recently, which remains the only part of the globe almost entirely untouched by COVID-19.

But as Trump spoke, another "community spread" victim of the virus was identified in Oregon. That means a patient who contracted the virus without going abroad themselves. The patient in question was diagnosed late because of bureaucratic delays in receiving working test kits

Trump disbanded the government's interagency task force on epidemic disease response in 2018. Both Trump and the person he put in charge of the government's response, Vice-President Mike Pence, spent the day at campaign events.

UPDATE, 2/29: Officials in Seattle announced the first death in the United States from the "hoax."

Why is this a problem?

  • Telling people that a potentially deadly disease is a "hoax" at the last possible moment when they can help stop its spread is insane.
  • Saying that nothing is your fault doesn't make problems go away.
  • The health and safety of the American people is more important than Donald Trump's political needs.