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Trump Changes Tune on Coronavirus, Extends Social Distancing Until April 30

President Donald J. Trump participates in a virtual Fox News Town Hall Tuesday, March 24, 2020, in the Rose Garden of the White House. (Official White House Photo by Shealah Craighead) Date: 24 March 2020, 13:44:26 Source: Virtual Fox News Town Hall Author: The White House from Washington, DC

As of Sunday night, the United States has 143,055 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 2,513 deaths.

At a Sunday night press conference, President Donald Trump announced a long list of social distancing guidelines will be extended until April 31st. The guidelines include working from home and avoiding non-essential travel, bars and restaurants.

Just four days ago, Trump said he hoped the United States would be back to normal by Easter, and he said in a press conference on Tuesday, “America will, again, and soon, be open for business, very soon. A lot sooner than three or four months that somebody was suggesting, lot sooner.”

The about-face comes as health officials and experts offered a sobering analysis of the possible destruction COVID-19 will reap on the United States. America’s top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted 100,000 to 200,000 deaths due to the coronavirus based on modeling.

According to Johns Hopkins University, as of Sunday night, the United States has 143,055 confirmed cases of coronavirus with 2,513 deaths. New York is the epicenter with nearly 60,000 cases, but major cities across the country are dealing with their own outbreaks. New York is expected to peak in coronavirus cases in about 2-3 weeks.

Mixed Messaging

The White House’s messaging on its coronavirus response has been muddled and often changed from day-to-day.

Shortly after floating the idea of a quarantine of New York and parts of New Jersey and Connecticut, Trump said it would not be necessary. The shift in policy took place within 24 hours.

On the issue of ventilators, Trump has also flipped back and forth on the necessity of providing them to hard-hit states.

On Saturday, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo reiterated that his state needs 30,000 ventilators. In an interview with Fox’s Sean Hannity, Trump responded with, “I don’t believe you need 40,000 or 30,000 ventilators. You go into major hospitals sometimes, and they’ll have two ventilators. And now all of a sudden, they’re saying, ‘Can we order 30,000 ventilators?’”

Two days after the Hannity interview, Trump invoked the Defense Production Act to force General Motors to produce ventilators for coronavirus patients. Trump tweeted, “General Motors MUST immediately open their stupidly abandoned Lordstown plant in Ohio, or some other plant, and START MAKING VENTILATORS, NOW!!!!!!”

At a press briefing one day earlier, Trump said, “I mean, we — we’re dealing with Ford, General Motors, 3M.  We’re dealing with great companies… they don’t need somebody to walk over there with a — with a hammer and say, “Do it.”  They are getting it done.  They’re making tremendous amounts of equipment.  Tremendous amounts.”

To further add to the confusion, Trump seemed to blame hospitals for hoarding ventilators and medical supplies.

Pointing Fingers

In addition to hospitals and manufacturers, Trump has long been shoving the blame around to explain America’s poor response to the crisis.

In a March 26 press briefing, Trump said, “we inherited a broken situation,” and he has routinely blamed Democrats.

On March 9, Trump tweeted, “The Fake News Media and their partner, the Democrat Party, is doing everything within its semi-considerable power (it used to be greater!) to inflame the CoronaVirus situation, far beyond what the facts would warrant. Surgeon General, ‘The risk is low to the average American.’”

In 2018, Trump’s national security adviser John Bolton disbanded the global health security team tasked with preparing for pandemics. The administrative reshuffle meant that no senior official was solely focused on global health security. The Obama administration set up the team in response to the 2014 Ebola epidemic.

When asked by PBS’s Yamiche Alcindor about the administrative move, Trump said, “I just think it’s a nasty question… You say we did that; I don’t know anything about it.”

With all the finger-pointing and a woefully mismanaged response to the growing threat of coronavirus, Trump’s approval ratings have reached their highest in his tenure at nearly 46% according to FiveThirtyEight. The increase could be in part due to the massive stimulus package that includes a provision for an imminent $1,200 for most Americans.

Alec Pronk

Alec is a freelance writer with an interest in both geopolitics and American domestic issues. He finished his Master's degree with a critical focus on government counterterrorism policies.

1 Comment

  1. Saja Lutor April 1, 2020

    That was quite predictable as 1-2 weeks of isolation is too small period. No one could fight that disease so fast and the number is only increasing now. I’m reading news in COVID-19 chat in Utopia p2p, and the real situation is even worse than we know. That’s nice to have at least one source with the real info.


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