Wednesday, April 8, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said it was wrong to have minimized the threat of COVID-19.

Previously, Trump has blamed the coronavirus pandemic and the shockingly disproportionate outbreak in the United States on China, Democrats, the Obama administration, Americans themselves, governors, his own State Department, a Navy captain, and of course the media. Today, he found a new scapegoat: the World Health Organization (WHO).

WHO is a United Nations agency responsible for coordinating international public health efforts. It functions in some ways like an international CDC. Today, Trump lashed out at WHO and threatened—not for the first time—to withhold American funding to them. (The US is actually overdue on its WHO bill anyway.) Trump accused the organization of having secret pro-China sympathies, and of concealing the dangers of the virus.

WHO has come in for some measured criticism from people who actually know about public health, but Trump may not have thought through the implications of admitting that it would be bad for world leaders to downplay the threat of the coronavirus.

Weeks after WHO declared COVID-19 a "global emergency" on January 30, and months after Trump himself first heard urgent intelligence reports on the potential disaster of an outbreak in November, Trump was still calling it a "hoax" and insisting that the United States would soon have "zero" cases.

Roughly 2,000 Americans died from COVID-19 in the 24 hours before Trump's remarks this afternoon. Also today, Trump tweeted that when the outbreak was finally over, Americans should simply forget about it altogether

Why does this matter?

  • It's bad if finding people to blame for your problems is more important to you than fixing them.