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Stop blaming Trump for spread of the coronavirus | COMMENTARY

President Donald Trump addresses a news conference about the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday.
President Donald Trump addresses a news conference about the coronavirus, in the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, Wednesday. (Doug Mills/The New York Times)

It’s unpleasant to be trapped behind four walls, hiding from the coronavirus. It’s even more unpleasant to hear politicians and reporters finger pointing and salivating at another opportunity to discredit our president.

People are dying, losing their jobs and are stranded in their homes. It is time for unity and support, not for finding fault. But if you must play the blame game, make sure you have all the pieces. President Donald Trump has not been the cause of any delay or slow response.

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He was one of the first world leaders to limit travel from China and eventually Europe. At the time, he was chastised by the World Health Organization for overreacting, criticized by European leaders (who later shut down their own borders), and demonized by Joe Biden, who said Mr. Trump had “a record of hysteria, xenophobia and fear-mongering.”

Mr. Trump fully committed the Centers for Disease Control and every other federal health agency to our defense. This includes around 80,000 doctors, microbiologists and other personnel experienced in dealing with medical crisis. He deployed the National Guard to build hospitals and distribute food and supplies. He sent hospital ships to New York and Los Angeles. He obtained the cooperation of private corporations to transform their operations into the manufacturing of masks, respirators and other supplies to meet the extraordinary demand.

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President Donald Trump also signed a $2.2 trillion funding package to mitigate the impact of an economic shutdown on employees and employers. He has worked closely with governors, respecting their authority to address the needs of their own states while providing backup resources. He has given the nation daily updates, praised the medical community and expressed that “not even one death is acceptable.”

He has occasionally been overly optimistic or given us false hope, but only to dampen the level of panic. Nevertheless, if you must blame someone, then start with the following list. Blame the Chinese government, which concealed the outbreak and delayed the release of key information. The World Health Organization that announced on Jan. 14th that the virus was not transferable between humans, only to back-peddle on Jan. 30th and declare a global health emergency. The Democratic Party, which distracted the government through the early days of the crisis with counter-productive impeachment proceedings.

Then there’s the Department of Health and Human Services which failed to replenish the national stockpile of certain medical equipment, such as masks, which had been depleted during the Obama administration. The Centers for Disease Control whose original test kit failed to provide reliable readings and had to be re-engineered, delaying its implementation. Blame past administrations who allowed a large majority of our pharmaceutical drug and hospital mask production to be outsourced to China.

Blame the idiots who failed to heed warnings about social distancing, such as the college students reveling on beaches during spring break. Blame the politicians and media who continue to sow discord and assault our leadership in the middle of a national crisis.

But here’s an even better idea. Don’t blame anyone, and just accept reality. Accept that it takes time to go to war whether you are responding to an attack on Pearl Harbor or the invasion of a microscopic enemy. Accept that it takes time for scientists to develop tests, treatments and vaccines. That it takes time to study a unique medical threat and decipher how to survive it. And that it is difficult to prepare for the unknown.

Accept that it takes time to ramp up production, retool industries, train employees and distribute product across the country. It’s hard enough to keep up with a sudden surge in demand for toilet paper, much less masks, respirators and sophisticated test kits. Accept the flaws of bureaucracy. Understand that big governments are inherently slow and inefficient.

A deadly virus can spread halfway across the world in the same time it takes to get your license renewed at the Department of Motor Vehicles Administration. Yet, ironically, the people who are now complaining about the government’s slower-than-desired response are the same ones who want our entire health care system operated by the government.

Since the WHO declared the coronavirus to be an international public health emergency in late January, our country has taken historic steps in our fight against it. Until we prevail, let’s put our political bias aside and get behind the president of the United States and his administration who are waging an aggressive battle to protect us. Stay safe inside with your family, get out the Monopoly board and put away the blame game. It’s never fun and this is not the time to play it.

Mick Kemper (kempman2@gmail.com) is a retired commercial banker and lifetime resident of Maryland.

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