February 27, 2020 10:24 am -

The Obama Administration contained ebola effectively. Trump’s handling of the coronavirus? Well, let’s just say he’s no Barack Obama:

President Trump, whose government is leading an effort to combat the spread of the coronavirus in the United States, offered some tips on Wednesday to avoid getting sick, and as he did so, he revealed a little more about his lifelong aversion to germs.

“I do it a lot, anyway, as you’ve probably heard: Wash your hands,” he told reporters gathered at the White House for a news conference on the global epidemic. “Stay clean. You don’t have to necessarily grab every handrail unless you have to. You know, you do certain things.”

Mr. Trump’s self-declared germophobia is well documented. In his 2004 book, “How to Get Rich,” he detailed what he called a “personal crusade to replace the mandatory and unsanitary handshake with the Japanese custom of bowing.”

His stance on combating illness as president has in some ways matched how he behaved as a private citizen — “KEEP THEM OUT OF HERE!” he wrote on Twitter in 2014 days before an American aid worker infected with the Ebola virus in West Africa during a severe outbreak there returned to the United States. That has alarmed experts who have said he is not the right person to be leading the charge.

Okay, we get the hand-washing thing. Otherwise, Trump faces a bigger issue: he cannot be believed.

When Hurricane Dorian crashed into the Atlantic Coast in September, President Trump assumed a take-charge role in response. But he undermined his own effectiveness after it became apparent that before displaying a map in front of the television cameras in the Oval Office, he had altered it with a Sharpie pen to match his inaccurate forecast of where the storm was headed.

For years, experts have warned that Mr. Trump has been squandering the credibility he could need in a moment of national emergency, like a terrorist attack or a public health crisis.

Now, as the coronavirus races across the globe and has begun to threaten the United States, Mr. Trump could face a moment of reckoning. Maintaining a calm and orderly response during an epidemic, in which countless lives could be at stake, requires that the president be a reliable public messenger.

Trump has decided to put Mike Pence in charge of the coronavirus response:

Since there are roughly six people left working as high-level officials who aren’t “acting” in their current roles, it shouldn’t be a surprise that Trump picked Pence to run the Coronavirus response. The country should probably consider itself lucky that Trump didn’t give the gig to Jared Kushner.

Mike Pence is not a healthcare expert, and if he is going to be leading the response, America could be in for a lot of trouble.

You remember Mike Pence, right?

Pence is not a public health expert, either. Instead, as governor of Indiana, he slashed public health spending and delayed the introduction of needle exchanges, which led to the state’s worst outbreak of HIV. He takes over from Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar who has been heading the White House coronavirus task force since the beginning of January.

Yale epidemiologist Gregg Gonsalves, who conducted the research linking the Indiana HIV outbreak to Pence’s policies, tweeted that the decision “speaks to a lack of seriousness by the White House.”

Gee, ya think? Maybe Donnie is setting up Pence for epic fail so he will have an “excuse” to put someone like, say, Nikki Haley on the reelection ticket. The only certainty is that Donnie obsessed with  how is this going to affect his precious poll numbers – especially when the possibility is compounded by your history as a fount of misinformation.

Sooner or later, it’s virtually bound to happen.

Though novel 2019 coronavirus cases in the United States have so far ticked up in fits and starts, experts on deadly diseases say Americans should be prepared to see an overnight boom in cases that mirror the skyrocketing outbreaks in Italy and South Korea.

At last count from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), there were 60 confirmed novel 2019 coronavirus cases in the U.S. One of those cases—in northern California—marked the first case of unknown origin, as The Washington Post first reported Wednesday. Fourteen patients came through the American health system after traveling to China or having close contact with someone who had. The rest were either repatriated individuals who fled the vicinity of the virus’s origin in China on State Department-chartered planes or else were rescued from the disastrous Diamond Princess cruise ship outbreak.


D.B. Hirsch
D.B. Hirsch is a political activist, news junkie, and retired ad copy writer and spin doctor. He lives in Brooklyn, New York.