With the coronavirus pandemic spreading rapidly throughout Asia, Europe and beyond, dangerous holes in America's health defenses here at home are coming into full focus, despite insufficient, rosy assurances from President Trump's team stating otherwise. While health officials across the planet have been ringing alarm bells for weeks and months about the likelihood of a full-blown, global pandemic, the president has been egregiously blasé about the crisis, predicting – without evidence – that by April the whole thing "is going to go away" on account of warmer weather and whatnot.
Over the past three years the Trump administration has systematically dismantled much of our nation's defenses for responding to just such a pandemic, slashing staff and "disease-fighting operational budgets" at various critical agencies including the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), the Department of Health and Human Services, (HHS), and the Department of Homeland Security (DHS). In a particularly damning piece of reporting, Foreign Policy noted, "The global health section of the CDC was so drastically cut in 2018 that much of its staff was laid off and the number of countries it was working in was reduced from 49 to merely 10."
Making matters far worse? The deeply irresponsible musings of Trump cheerleaders like Rush Limbaugh telling legions of followers that the coronavirus is nothing more than a "common cold." Now, he's even placed Vice President Mike Pence in charge of America's response, an avowed science denier who made Indiana's AIDS outbreak worse by denying reality.
Complacency, negligence, ineptitude, and obfuscation – all hallmarks of the Trump era working in tandem to undermine American security and public health. The United States should be leading the charge in combating the coronavirus and coordinating a global response plan. As Foreign Policy rightly stated, "Bureaucracy matters. Without it, there's nothing to coherently manage an alphabet soup of agencies housed in departments ranging from Defense to Commerce, Homeland Security to Health and Human Services (HHS)."
Demand President Trump reconstitute the pandemic response team he needlessly disbanded and commit the necessary resources to fight the coming pandemic head on.