”I wanted to, I always wanted to play it down. I still like playing it down, because I don’t want to create a panic.”
These words came from the mouth of President Trump during an February interview with Bob Woodward, and many Americans feel that Trump “betrayed” them. They argue that Trump “knew about the virus,” and deliberately “ignored“ its threat.
Arguably, the most important question is whether or not it is fair to judge someone’s knowledge of the coronavirus from the data in February. In February, China saw immense growth of COVID casualties, and just one month prior, Wuhan was one of the worst hotspots of the entire country. However, in the United States at that time, we had very few cases of COVID. In fact, on March 4th, we had just 26 new confirmed cases of the virus. While it was a legitimate threat in China, we had no reason to be afraid at the time, as we are a country with more than 320 million people.
As we now know, COVID has proven to be a highly contagious and unpredictable virus. It affected nearly every aspect of American life, and still is impacting our country today.
This brings me back to my original question- is it fair to judge someone’s knowledge of the coronavirus from February‘s data?
Mayor Pete Buttigieg called out Trump on twitter last night, saying that “people in countries whose leaders told them the truth about COVID didn’t ‘panic.’ They responded. And as a result, far fewer of them died.” On the other hand, Senator Lindsey Graham of South Carolina defended the president, adding, “I don’t think he needs to go on TV and screaming we’re all going to die.”
Clearly, this is not an easy answer, and these newly released interview tapes are going to circulate the news for weeks to come. It seems like this will further divide our nation in a time when political views are already clashing.