I’ll start this post will a simple sentence: I give credit to the Trump administration for fast-tracking the development and production of coronavirus vaccines. Period. Full stop.
Everything else that the Trump administration touched or became involved in concerning COVID-19 was a mess or an out-and-out disaster. Millions of Americans got sick because of those screw-ups. Hundreds of thousands of Americans have died.
At first there was the issue of getting people tested for the virus. Despite Trump’s promises, there were not enough tests available. The same for everything from masks and hospital gowns to ventilators, all of which were badly in short supply. Although he had been in office for more than three years at the time, he blamed the Obama administration for the shortages. Previously developed plans to prepare for a pandemic were ignored.
The mistakes, lies and disasters came in many forms from January 2020 through January 2021. They began with avoiding all responsibility for anything: “I don’t take responsibility at all” Donald Trump famously said on March 13, 2020. And so it was for the entire year of COVID.
At the beginning of the pandemic year there were literally just a few handfuls of case. Trump bragged when there were about 15 identified cases that they would all be resolved and go away in a few days. He worked to keep a cruise ship out of a west coast port because it contained several hundred people who had the virus or were in contact with those who had the virus; he was afraid that his count of the ill would go up dramatically.
Trump pushed hydroxychloroquine and even recommended Clorox and ultraviolet radiation as treatments for the virus as his health advisor, Dr. Deborah Birx, sat there in silence.
Mike Pence promised that the pandemic would be over by Memorial Day 2020. Jared Kushner said we would all be dancing in the streets in July 2020 after the virus issues were resolved.
As the number of those ill and dead grew the Trump administration did everything in its power to downplay what was occurring in real time everywhere in the United States. Trump mocked the wearing of masks and social distancing at his rallies and at the White House, even while such events sometimes turned into super spreaders.
Trump and his wife both became ill from the virus in October. We may never know how sick Donald actually was. His return to the White House after his hospital stay, where he defiantly removed his mask as he stood Mussolini-like on the balcony, was certainly one of the most memorable moments of the Trump presidency.
When the vaccines became ready for use in December and January Trump made no effort to promote their value and need but he secretly got himself vaccinated, which we learned only recently. He spent his time grousing about the election he lost and laying plans to promote what became the insurrection at the Capitol on January 6.
Historians may someday look back and note the irony of all that Trump did or did not do related to the pandemic in 2020. If he had taken things seriously; if he had not avoided noting all the pain and suffering throughout the country and instead became the consoler-in-chief; if he had actively pushed for the use of the vaccine by all Americans – he might have been re-elected.
But such actions were not his MO. Having never taken responsibility for anything he has ever done, he could not bring himself to admit the seriousness of the problem and to explain to the country that some sacrifices such as mask-wearing, social distancing, and eventually, getting vaccinated would in the long run benefit all of the United States.
Despite not having a traditional transition period between the election and Inauguration Day, Joe Biden and the team he selected rolled up their sleeves, in more ways than one, to take charge of the vaccination activity, to get creative with getting drug companies to collaborate, and to devise and revise plans for what needed to be done. As this post is being published in late April 2021 more than half the adults in the country have had at least one shot of a vaccine; 80 percent of seniors have received at least one shot.
The recent caseloads of COVID victims have shifted away from seniors and others who were most vulnerable. The majority of new cases involve younger people who either had not yet had the opportunity to be vaccinated, or are declining the shots, despite vaccines being readily available now.
Many news stories have been written lately about the politics of vaccination avoidance. Many Republicans seem to think that if their fearless leader is not pushing to get people vaccinated (despite the fact that he got the shots), then they should likewise avoid it.
There is another irony here. Trump’s last “medical adviser,” a radiologist named Dr. Scott Atlas, drew attention last fall for suggesting that we should just let herd immunity take care of the virus. The problem was that that doctor’s version of immunity would have just had millions of people contract the virus, with the resulting illnesses and death, rather than get to herd immunity through vaccinations.
The fact is that the virus will continue as a major threat to the health of this country until vaccinations rise above 80 percent or more of the population. People need to get past the excuses of the vaccine-deniers who see evil and pain in that simple shot in the arm.
Trump and his acolytes could help resolve this matter by promoting vaccination, but he would rather play golf and plot revenge against his political enemies. He also won’t want to see Joe Biden get any credit for what he has done, forgetting that unlike himself, ego and braggadocio are not Biden’s style.
If only. Trump’s legacy.