On March 6th President Donald Trump’s pontifications to reporters that had come for a press conference at the Center for Disease Control in Atlanta included a statement that, “Anybody that wants a [Coronavirus] test can get a test.” He went on to say, “But as of right now and yesterday, anybody that needs a test - that’s the important thing - and the tests are all perfect, like the [Ukraine] letter was perfect.”
After that lie, the Trump Coronavirus activities have gone downhill. Ten days later, for example, he told a group of governors that, “Respirators, ventilators, all of the equipment – try getting it yourselves.”
This was sobering for the governors because they realized that they were on their own. Whatever help came from the Trump administration and the national government was secondary to what their states could do.
So the scramble is on to get the material and equipment they need from anywhere in the country and anywhere in the world. Each state is acting like a mini-country attempting to negotiate for needed supplies in competition with the other 49 “mini-countries.”
Then there is the federal government also in competition with the states as well as “taking” what states ordered and thought they had acquired. “On Friday night, the governor [Colorado Governor Polis] said on CNN that Colorado was making a deal with a manufacturer for an order of ventilators for use in the state when the Federal Emergency Management Agency swooped in and took it.”
“We can’t compete against our own federal government… So either work with us, or don’t do anything at all. But this middle ground where they’re buying stuff out from under us and not telling us what we’re going to get, that’s really challenging to manage our hospital surge and our safety of our health care workers in that kind of environment.”
The system of acquisition and distribution for these vital materials is pretty much broken because the President has been late and wrong in reacting to what is a national crisis. He also does not want to take responsibility for managing our response because he can always blame the governors for negative outcomes.
Yet he holds a daily press conference supposedly on the Coronavirus crisis, but spends a lot of time on himself and how great he is for the country. There is no need for these kind of daily press conferences that do not feature the experts that have something new to say.
By contrast, one of the “mini-countries – New York” is currently at the epicenter of the emergency and its governor hold daily press briefings dealing with the progress of the state medical system, the verified numbers associated with the pandemic and plans for the near future. Unlike Trump, the governor deals with facts about the situation on the ground.
Rachel Maddow, host of an MSNBC commentary show recently suggested that since the President can not or will not lead the battle against the virus, he appoint a high-ranking military officer to take on the effort just like what was done in the case of Hurricane Katrina where Lieutenant General Russel Honore was appointed by President Bush to do the job. That way she argues, the President can take the credit for the things that go well and blame his appointee for the things that don’t.
I never thought I would see the day that 50 states would be told to act independently to save themselves and their people. Our President is failing again.