Opinion

How would you handle the coronavirus if you were president of the USA?

Let's make you the president for the sake of this discussion.
Wed Mar 18, 2020 - 10:42 am EST
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March 18, 2020 (American Thinker) — Let me offer a little perspective on COVID-19 from a physician's viewpoint. Allow me to first state that the perfect governmental balance in handling a pandemic is virtually impossible to achieve. To illustrate that, let's make you the president for the sake of this discussion.

Because of the exponential growth of a pandemic, to flatten the epidemiological curve, you have to take action before it's apparent that action is needed. If you wait until it's apparent, the curve will have taken its skyward turn, and it's too late. But if you act significantly early, you'll always be perceived by the populace as overreacting and inciting panic. The economy doesn't like panic, so it will tank.

If that's not bad enough, if your early actions ultimately work, and the pandemic curve is flattened such that things don't turn out so badly, well, then the, populace will be all the more convinced you acted needlessly. No one will stop to think the measures you took were precisely what mitigated the pandemic. 

On the other hand, if you act just a bit too late, the pandemic curve will not flatten, and many more lives will be lost. Then you will be crucified for not doing enough quickly enough! No matter what you do, it will be a no-win proposition. And your opposition party will gleefully use this reality against you, no matter the outcome of the pandemic.

Unfortunately, there is no scientific formula in existence that answers the question: when is precisely the exact right time to take massive economically and socially disruptive action in dealing with a pandemic? It's a judgment call. Aren't we all glad we don't have to achieve that impossibly delicate balance in making a judgment call that will impact the entire nation, if not the world?

In such scenarios, critics always base their criticism on 20/20 hindsight. Shame on them. I've read all sorts of recent criticism about Trump waiting too long to take decisive action — or waiting too long to get tested himself. People who are critical of Trump would be just as critical of him had he taken earlier action, well before it seemed necessary. Those people should admit to themselves that whatever Trump does, they'll dislike — simply because they dislike Trump.

As a reminder, how long did President Obama wait before taking action during the 2009 H1N1 pandemic? The answer is, not until a little over 1,000 Americans had died. Did Obama ever get tested himself for H1N1? Ever? The answer is no, he did not — at least not that he publicized to the nation. But I will give him credit for exercising his judgment to the best of his ability at the time. I don't think he delayed because he was stupid, or callous, or because he simply didn't care about American lives. Trump should be given the same consideration.

Could Trump have acted a little earlier? Yes. But perhaps only by a matter of a few days. Any earlier than that, and he would have been crucified for massively overreacting and destroying the economy, our educational system, and our social interactions. The outcry would have been furious.

As it is, he has taken measures that are unprecedented in my 72-year lifetime. His declaration of a national emergency happened much sooner in the progression of this pandemic than Obama's. Never before have I experienced a total shutdown of travel from Asia and Europe. I can't remember a time when sporting events of all kinds were canceled nationwide. I can't remember a time in my 41-year medical career (49 years counting med school and residency) that FDA regulations have been so quickly suspended in order to bring testing and treatments to the market more quickly.

And those who are firmly in the globalist camp should stop and think about our vulnerability due to a large majority of medical equipment and supplies being manufactured in China. How good does that idea seem now?

So I suggest that we all take a deep breath, recognize that all governmental leaders are human, they're never going to perform perfectly, and acknowledge that our current president has taken much more decisive action more quickly than any prior president has ever taken in the face of a viral pandemic.

And remember, it is impossible to 100% completely avoid a global pandemic — where zero people in a given country become infected and zero people in that country die. The best that can be hoped for is a modest flattening of the pandemic curve. At this point in time, it is my opinion that we'll achieve that in the U.S.

This article originally appeared at the American Thinker. It is published with the author's permission.


  coronavirus, donald trump, quarantine

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