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Zirpoli: President Trump should lead or get out of the way | COMMENTARY

From the time that the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the United States, it took 99 days to reach 1 million cases. The virus was spreading to an average of 10,101 new people per day. It took 43 days to reach the second million Americans at a growth rate of 23,256 new cases per day. The third million mark was reached in just 28 days or 35,714 new cases per day. COVID-19 is spreading out of control in America and we will soon be adding a million or more new cases every 10 days or less.

If you have been paying attention to how well President Donald Trump has ignored the expanding crisis in America, you now understand how he was able to go bankrupt six times. Unfortunately, Trump can’t declare bankruptcy and start over with managing this pandemic. So, it seems, he has decided to just pretend it is getting better and will go away.

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Simply put, Trump has given up on protecting the American people. But he remains committed to protecting himself, of course. While he plays down the dangers of the pandemic, he somehow understands the need to have everyone around him tested daily.

I wish I had daily tests to protect the people with disabilities in our agency and the employees who care for them. Unlike the president, we are working hard every day to stop the spread.

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Trump wants to fix the economy, but we need to first get the virus under control in order to have a strong economy. Other nations have figured this out. However, Trump is impulsive and impatient. As a result, he pushed for states to open by before they’re ready, and the Republican governors of Arizona, Florida and Texas obliged. Today, those three states have the fastest virus spread in the nation. Instead of being able to open their economies, they are now in crisis mode and many of their hospitals are filling up.

Trump is now pressuring states to open up their schools like they have in Germany and other European nations. Unlike America, however, they did the hard work and their infection rates are a fraction of ours.

And how ironic is it that Europe has closed its borders to Americans?

It will be almost impossible to physically distance our children in public schools. There is simply not enough space — many schools are already overcrowded — or enough teachers to break classrooms into smaller groups. If you break a class of 24 students into two classes of 12, you need an additional classroom and an additional teacher. Where will the extra space and teachers come from? Who will pay for all the extra staff? If Trump thinks Americans are upset with him now, wait until American children go back to school and start bringing home the virus.

States and their local school districts are already struggling financially with lost revenues. Who will pay for all the masks and cleaning supplies, never mind the additional teachers, aides and classrooms? Our schools need money, so may I suggest that if we can transfer money from the Pentagon to build a wall, we should be able to transfer billions of dollars to keep our children safe at school. But, face it, does anyone think Trump cares about what happens to our children?

Some universities have tried to bring their football teams to campus to prepare for the fall season. But even with the tightest controls and isolation, dozens of teams have had to close practice and send the players home due to COVID-19 breakouts. Imagine the same with thousands of students on the same campus.

My guess is that most universities will try to partly open their campuses in the fall, but will be closed by Halloween. Where will they isolate dozens of students who will get sick? They will not be able to put them on a plane and fly them home.

I haven’t talked to one university professor or administrator who believes that college students will remain isolated in their dorm rooms, consistently wear masks, or avoid hanging out with their friends. Heck, we can’t even get adults to follow these simple rules.

If Trump wants our kids back in school, he should stop tweeting about his Confederate heroes and get behind Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines to defeat this pandemic. He should finally make a habit of wearing a mask, show us the way, or get out of the way.

Tom Zirpoli is the program director for the Human Services Management program at McDaniel College. His column appears Wednesdays. Email him at tzirpoli@mcdaniel.edu.

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