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Trump’s Coronavirus Record Is Troubled at Best

Jessica Karl

(Bloomberg Opinion) -- On night one of the 2020 Republican National Convention, President Donald Trump was praised for his management of the coronavirus pandemic. “As a healthcare professional, I can tell you without hesitation Donald Trump's quick action and leadership saved thousands of lives during Covid-19,” said Amy Ford, a registered nurse from West Virginia. Even Trump gave himself a pat on the back during his acceptance speech: “When the China virus hit, we launched the largest national mobilization since World War II.”But with over 180,000 deaths from the virus and millions of people unemployed, just how successful has Trump been in leading the nation’s pandemic response? Bloomberg Opinion columnists have been tracking his progress from the start.Covid-19 Testing Is Broken and There's No Plan to Fix It: “When Covid-19 first escalated in the spring, President Donald Trump briefly came to recognize there was battle to be fought. ‘I view it as a, in a sense, a wartime president,’ he said in March. ‘It’s a medical war. We have to win this war. It’s very important.’ But one month after setting up a coronavirus task force in the White House and putting his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, in charge of expanding testing, Trump effectively shifted primary responsibility for the battle to the states. It was as if, during World War II, Franklin D. Roosevelt had told governors to devise their own military strategies and produce their own tanks, ships and planes.” – Timothy L. O’Brien

A Horrifying U.S. Covid Curve Has a Simple Explanation: “A sluggish initial response and failure to ramp up testing let the virus spread far and wide in the U.S. And instead of coordinating a coherent and aggressive national response, President Donald Trump has consistently downplayed the threat of the infection and left decisions to insufficiently supported states. As a result, decisions over lockdowns and reopenings have been chaotic and have ignored the guidelines put forth by federal public health officials.” – Max Nisen

The Hydroxychloroquine Saga Is Just How Science Works: “After President Donald Trump touted hydroxychloroquine as a ‘game changer’ in March, the drug became the center of a political battle that led to retracted papers, lawsuits and even death threats. It’s also now the most widely studied treatment for Covid-19.” – Faye Flam

Trump’s Immigration Strategy Is a Casualty of Covid-19: “If Trump had made a genuine effort to keep Covid-19 from spreading, he might have had a better chance to cast the disease as a fellow traveler of immigrants. Instead, now it’s Americans who are shut out of countries that have done a better job containing the virus.” – Francis Wilkinson

Did Trump Really Slow Down Coronavirus Testing?: “Presidential leadership matters in encouraging action, especially quick action. That kind of leadership certainly hasn’t been apparent during the pandemic. Trump’s public statements have waffled between outright hostility to testing and a kind of ‘Mission Accomplished’ swagger about having ramped it up. In reality, rates of coronavirus testing have continued to improve. But it took a long time, and Trump was claiming success when daily levels were half of what they are now. So whether Trump ever deliberately tried to slow down testing probably hasn’t mattered that much. But his lack of leadership certainly has.” – Jonathan Bernstein

More Reading

How to Make Trump’s Coronavirus Briefings Actually Good: Faye Flam

The GOP Fails to Help Americans Face the Coronavirus Crisis: Timothy L. O’Brien and Nir Kaissar

Trump’s Executive Actions Are Just a Band-Aid: Mohammed El-Erian

Coronavirus Brings American Decline Out in the Open: Noah Smith

Trump’s Disinfectant Idea Is More Than a Silly Sound Bite: Jonathan Bernstein

Americans Are Failing the Mask Test: Tyler Cowen

Trump Orders an Anti-Stimulus Plan for Struggling States:  Brian Chappatta

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of the editorial board or Bloomberg LP and its owners.

Jessica Karl is a social media editor for Bloomberg Opinion. She previously interned for CNN Opinion and Nylon magazine.

For more articles like this, please visit us at bloomberg.com/opinion

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