While we’d love to reply with just a bunch of supercuts of Trump denying the severity of COVID-19, his admission to Bob Woodward that he was intentionally playing down the threat of COVID-19, and post a bunch of charts and graphs to put it all in context, we at Ask a Leftist know that Trump’s supporters don’t buy it. So, let’s take a different route.

We’re going to copy and paste the official White House summary of Trump’s COVID-19 response. You can see it for yourself here.

We’ll parse out each claim in italics. And then at the end we’ll have a slide show. Not really.


“My Administration will stop at nothing to save lives and shield the vulnerable.”

President Donald J. Trump


KEY TAKEAWAYS:

  • Took early action to cut off travel from China

  • Built the world’s leading testing system from nothing

  • Enacted mitigation measures to slow the spread

  • Mobilized public and private sectors to secure needed supplies

  • Took action to protect vulnerable Americans

  • Launched effort to deliver a vaccine and therapeutics in record time

  • Provided support to workers and businesses

  • Paved way for reopening to get America working again

  • Surged resources to hot spots as they arose

  • Confronted China as origin of the virus while Democrats and media cowered


At the outset, President Trump took action to stop travel from China to stem the spread to the United States as long as possible.

  • While Democrats were focused on their impeachment sham, President Trump took swift and decisive action to stop travel from China in January and enhanced airport screenings to help stop cases from coming into the United States as long as possible.


Trump started with the Level-4: Do Not Travel advisory on travel to Hubei Province - and ordered the departure of non-emergency U.S. personnel and their families on January 23, 2020. The travel ban from China took effect January 31, 2020. Trump’s impeachment concluded with his acquittal on February 5, 2020.

Trump took action...relying on universal consensus from the health professionals within the Department of Health and Human Services - not as a rogue, independent actor as he often claims.

He was also kind of late to the game, since most major airlines had already decided to suspend flights between the U.S. and China . This coincided with Trump’s announcement of the travel ban, but airlines had come to this decision independently. Perhaps more importantly, on January 13 and January 15, two travelers entered the US from Wuhan carrying the virus, traveling to Chicago and Seattle, respectively. Airport screenings began after these travelers had already entered. Chicago and Atlanta screenings began on January 21, and Seattle-Tacoma screenings began January 28.

The man and woman who entered the US on the 13th and 15th had both reported symptoms by January 24th.

Travel restrictions were limited to foreign nationals and exempted immediate family members of US citizens and permanent residents. Those returning to the states were screened at select entry ports upon entry and for two weeks after arrival.

This is just China, mind you. The European travel ban wouldn’t come until March 12, 2020.


  • In his February 4th State of the Union address, President Trump pledged to “take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from the virus,” while the Democrats’ response made not a single mention of the virus or even the threat of China.


As always, we’re more than willing to criticize Democrats. They are equally complicit in the failings of the government response to COVID-19. They chased impeachment because it seems like that’s where they were headed with their opposition to Trump since his inauguration, and we concur with Trump that this 1) likely distracted Trump, and 2) left Democrats blind to the threat as well.

And listen. For what it’s worth, we knew as soon as Adam Schiff paraphrased Trump’s phone call with Ukrainian President Zelenskiy that the Democrats were entering into a shitshow. Anyway.

But again, let’s note the timing - Trump’s February 4th State of the Union address featured his pledge to “take all necessary steps” while the European travel ban wouldn’t take effect for another month (March 12). The virus was already spreading in Europe (and here in the US since at least January 13).

One way to interpret this is: doing the best with all available information. Yet another way to interpret it is: without the travel bans we would have had an even deadlier first wave. And yet a third interpretation: this just wasn’t enough. We could have taken ‘not enough’ and run with it once we saw cases and deaths increasing. We could have patted ourselves on the backs for taking action, acknowledged that we needed to do more, and then done more. Hindsight is 20/20, right? But it’s also self-aware. We did [x], here we are, time to do [y].

It’s also worth noting that the World Health Organization declared SARS-CoV-2 a global health emergency on January 30, 2020.


President Trump built the world’s leading testing system from nothing, based on a virus we have never faced before.

  • In order to accurately trace and combat this virus, President Trump set out to build the world’s best testing system, and that’s exactly what he did.


Well. Germany had developed a SARS-CoV-2 test that became available for public use on January 13, 2020. The US’s testing method was made public January 28, and testing was limited to: 1) people who had traveled to certain countries, 2) people with respiratory illnesses that had caused hospitalization, and 3) people who had been in contact with a person confirmed to have COVID-19.

One month later (well, February 27), the US had conducted less than 4,000 tests. Vice President Pence acknowledged on March 5, 2020 that the US didn’t have enough tests to meet the predicted future demand. By March 11, the US had tested fewer than 10,000 people.

Of course, the CDC sent out faulty tests. Research hospitals and universities were prohibited from using their in-house developed tests until February 29, 2020.

On March 13, Trump announced that we’d be testing people in retail store parking lots around the nation. That didn’t really happen. Target never came through, Google wasn’t involved, Walmart opened 2 testing sites in Arkansas, Walgreens opened 2 in Chicago, and CVS opened 4 sites.

Now, by March 30, more than a million people had been tested. Admittedly, from 10,000 to 1-million in 19 days, that’s pretty impressive.

But by April 6 hospitals were reporting shortages in PPE and testing supplies. US testing simply never matched the needed level of testing to adequately monitor, catch, and contain COVID-19.


  • We have already conducted more than 65 million tests, far outpacing any other country.


The White House needs to update this page. We reached 186-million tests by November 26, 2020.

But on this issue of testing. Since we’re here. Trump said numerous times that we wouldn’t have so many cases if we simply didn’t test so much.

Now, we’re not going to take this at face value, because that sounds like Trump is saying that tests cause COVID-19. We know that’s not what he means. He means that the more testing you do, the more cases you find. The worse it looks. But that is misleading. We’re not statisticians, but…

Let’s talk positivity rate. Because that’s not hard to understand.

If Trump’s premise is true, that more tests just naturally means more discovered cases, then we would see our positivity rates decrease as a percentage the more we test...if our testing and mitigation strategies work. Small numbers here:

If we’re running a 1% positivity rate, that’s 1/100 cases resulting in a positive test.

If we’re curbing infection and ramping up testing, maybe we get 1 positive test out of 200. That’s a 0.5% positivity rate. That’s great.

If we’re doing average, if we’re not aggressively targeting the virus’ spread, you’d see a constant 1% positivity rate. 1/100, 2/200, 3/300, etc. You can ramp up testing to 1,000,000 and still wind up with 10,000 positives. The infection is just there.

That’s bad. It’s worse if you increase testing and see the positivity rate increase. So, 1/100 (1%), 3/200 (1.5%), 5/300 (1.7%), 7/400 (1.8%)

That means the infection is spreading. And in the US, the infection is spreading. The crazy thing is, we have gone from an all-time high of 21% infection rate to an all-time low of 4%...but we’re currently at 9.7%. And we have been everywhere in between and back again. Up, down, all around. We’re doing more daily tests than ever, and the infection rate is on an upward trend again.

By all metrics, viral spread is out of control.


As soon as cases began to rise, President Trump released guidance to slow the spread.

  • President Trump released guidance recommending mitigation measures critical to slowing the spread of the virus, and the American people stepped up to do their part.


Masks. Lockdowns.


  • Dr. Fauci and Dr. Birx have attested to the fact that President Trump took action as soon as the data was presented to him.


Masks. Lockdowns.

For everyone saying that this is America and Americans have freedoms and the states should do what’s best and the American people can use common sense...no, clearly we can’t.

Listen, we’d love to sit here and get into a whole thing about this - protests and rallies and not living under fascist rule, but these are not interesting arguments. Not in the least. Quarantine, lockdowns, and strict social measures must be utilized to control viral spread. Americans don’t like it? I’m an American. I don’t like it. I don’t like being an essential worker. But I sucked it up, took every precaution just hoping - HOPING - that Americans could also suck it up with me and hold out. And for a while it worked. Remember when cases went from 30k a day to around 15k? That was great. But then everyone got all itchy. We were not in a great place, and instead of using our collective power to push for more stimulus measures, we ventured to state capitol buildings with rifles demanding we be released from quarantine hell.

Mainstream media didn’t help by running quarantine fatigue articles - the kinds of reading that galvanizes public thought around the unpleasantness of dealing with a pandemic, rather than the unpleasantness of the pandemic itself.

So, let me ask you something...what was the point of me getting up every morning, getting my temperature taken and adjusting every aspect of my daily work life, spraying my car and my clothes with virucide every day, donning homemade cloth masks and nitrile gloves before there was wide consensus on doing so simply because, when you think about it, those things are kind of obvious - what was the actual point of all those precautions, all that risk of exposure, if instead of toughing it out and demanding continued federal stimulus, if instead of all that we just said “we’re done!”

As far as I’m concerned, those who came out with their rifles and their rage, their cries against fascism, their doubts about the validity of everything from masks to lockdowns to social distancing, all of them ignorantly and willfully and selfishly let essential workers risk exposure day in and day out and refused to do their part and tough it out just like all the essential workers did. They wasted our time, cost some of us our health, and then because of their ridiculous sense of self-righteousness they call “freedom”, they went out into the world ignoring all scientific data and consensus and now we have uncontrolled, unmitigated spread. They have mocked us by telling us we were essential and then negated all progress by refusing to do the bare minimum to reduce viral spread.

And the refrain now? It isn’t that bad. Everyone is going to get it. It has low mortality. We’re doing great. Trump led by example - mocking masks, mocking doctors, mocking all of us who showed concern. So, did he do everything he could? Perhaps, for Trump, he did the only thing he could do, which was lie and create an environment of willful negligence.


In order to secure the supplies needed to confront the surge in coronavirus we faced, President Trump led the largest mobilization of public and private sector resources since WWII.

  • The President directed his Administration to secure and distribute needed medical supplies to states in need – resulting in billions of PPE delivered so far.


By seizing PPE from states, who had been left to secure PPE for themselves.


  • At the President’s urging, private companies shifted production to supplying masks, ventilators, hand sanitizer, testing supplies, and more.


Urging, mind you. Companies voluntarily did this. That Trump urged it - that’s pointless.

President Trump has acted under the Defense Production Act more than 30 times to ensure we have the supplies we need.

Listen - the government regularly invokes the DPA - from manufacturing bullet proof vests to obtaining materials for weapons. The US uses the DPA thousands of times a year. Trump was on and off with using the DPA for coronavirus. There’s also a difference between acting under the act and invoking the act and using its full power. This statement is also curious, because it doesn’t say anything specifically about coronavirus, only that the DPA was used more than 30 time to ensure we had supplies. That could mean anything.


  • When we faced a potentially catastrophic shortage of ventilators, President Trump took action to produce 100,000 ventilators and ensure no patient who needs one goes without a ventilator.


This is true.


President Trump moved swiftly to protect vulnerable communities.

  • The Administration quickly established guidelines for nursing homes and expanded telehealth opportunities to protect our vulnerable seniors.


You want to know something fun? Trump had previously pushed for deregulation of nursing homes - allowing for less oversight and lower fines for compliance issues. Trump has also pushed for liability protection for nursing homes that don’t do enough to protect their residents. They also experimented with hydroxychloroquine on senior living patients. You know, the thing everyone said would work but didn’t. Obama had established increased guidelines for nursing homes, Trump rolled them back, then had to undo his screw-up. Thanks, Obama.


  • The President took action to ensure that uninsured Americans are able to get the COVID-19 care and testing they need.

Too bad they weren’t aware.


  • President Trump directed Secretary Carson to focus the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council on underserved communities impacted by COVID-19.


Ah, yes. The Opportunity Zones with tax breaks for investors and businesses that don’t actually help the areas’ underserved citizens.


  • The Administration is investing approximately $2 billion in community health centers, helping their 28 million patients in medically underserved areas receive the care and testing they need.


This is true.


Early in the fight against the virus, President Trump launched a historic effort to develop a vaccine and therapeutics in record time.


  • President Trump understood early on that in order to defeat this virus once and for all and protect Americans, we need a vaccine and therapeutics.


Everyone understood that early on. Are you serious?


  • President Trump revolutionized the clinical trial process to ensure Americans get a safe vaccine as quickly as possible, by providing unprecedented investments in leading vaccine candidates to simultaneously produce them as they are tested and developed.

Well, I mean, he blocked FDA vaccine guidelines to ensure safe and effective treatment. That’s not really revolutionary, but whatever.


  • Thanks to President Trump’s efforts, coronavirus vaccine trials have progressed at record speeds, with multiple candidates already in or near the final stage of clinical trials.


We just want to take this space to bring up Pfizer, first to announce their vaccine, which had nothing to do with Trump.


President Trump responded to the devastating toll the virus took on our businesses and workers and secured unprecedented financial support.


  • The President negotiated and launched the Paycheck Protection Program – helping save 51 million American jobs.

22 million jobs were lost.


  • President Trump secured direct payments to help the countless Americans who are hurting due to the pandemic.


We’ve had one round of stimulus checks. 8 months ago.


  • President Trump took executive action to give tax relief to workers, ensure unemployment benefits for those out of work, prevent families from losing their homes to eviction or foreclosure, and provide student debt relief for Americans already hurting due to the virus.


We’re going to sound like a broken record, but all of these protections are about to expire with no extension in sight. People are going hungry, they’re facing eviction, unemployment benefits are poofing away. He did those things, and now those things are going away. And people are hurting. So. Do more.

Understanding the harmful toll a never-ending shutdown would have on our Nation, President Trump provided support to help states safely reopen as soon as they were able.


  • As we built out our critical medical supplies, flattened the curve, and rapidly expanded testing, states across the country were able to safely move towards reopening.

No. See my rant earlier.


  • President Trump ensured they had the data and resources to reopen on the correct timeframe.

No. See my rant earlier.


As hot spots have emerged, President Trump has surged resources to impacted areas while enabling us to prevent another nationwide shutdown.


  • The President has provided support to states facing new emergences of the virus, including surging testing sites, deploying medical personnel, and advising on mitigation strategies.

The entire country is a hotspot and the president has been chasing election fraud claims with virtually no guidance on COVID-19.


While the media and Democrats refuse to do so, President Trump has called out China for its actions to ensure we prevent a similar threat from arising again.


  • President Trump has rightly called out China’s handling of the virus for refusing to be transparent and failing to contain the virus before it spread.


Hey, you know what? This isn’t China’s problem any more. It’s ours. And you still want to talk about China.


  • The President held the WHO accountable for its egregious bias towards China that jeopardizes the safety of Americans.


Let’s be clear: there is a lot of nuance that goes into international relations whether or not Trump, Republicans, or Trump-Republicans want to admit or acknowledge it. Trump’s withdrawal from the WHO came from the organization’s refusal to throw itself into a political dispute, as they saw it, between two member organizations. Now, we can say we agree with this interpretation. We can say that we also see WHO as somewhat capitulating to China regarding its relationship with Taiwan, which is not a WHO member but which the Trump administration requested the WHO consult with on its coronavirus handling.

But the WHO doesn’t owe the Trump administration a pat on the back for restricting travel - something that the WHO has historically emphasized does not cut back on viral spread and which damages the economy - though the WHO later reversed course on this stance. This is a catch-22. Arguably, restricting travel between countries to control a virus is a common-sense approach - similar to the logic behind lock-downs. Reduce movement, reduce spread. Though it comes at a cost that the United States is all too familiar with - the threat of economic collapse. That the WHO would advocate against travel restrictions in favor of economic stability is curious, to say the least. We would be unnecessarily closed-minded to say that Trump was entirely wrong about travel restrictions. But the follow-up was indeed detrimental. He restricted travel into the country but not throughout the country. And yet our economy still suffered. Still is suffering. Almost as if a global pandemic has economic consequences beyond human control.

That the WHO capitulates to China in not acknowledging Taiwan’s sovereignty seems to be a detriment to health in deference to politics. The WHO cannot be a political middleman, certainly, but by the same token the WHO is not, in any real sense, constrained from working with Taiwan in at least some capacity, especially if we might be able to glean some kind of guidance from them. Their pandemic response was, in contrast to the United States, one of the best in the world.

Indeed, Trump could be viewed as being open to acknowledging Taiwan’s independence from China, but Trump’s list of demands for the WHO suggests that Trump is less a proponent of Taiwan and more a proponent of himself, seeking recognition from the WHO for, in Trump’s view, his adminstration’s world-class pandemic response. To the rest of the world, such recognition would be theater and nothing more. Other countries have followed WHO guidelines, acted with more precision and sobriety, and have been able to keep efforts apolitical. It is not a secret that Trump found himself facing a once-in-a-century crisis in an election year, and it is not a stretch to suggest that, his efforts bringing little success and indeed constant record-shattering infections and death, he wanted WHO approval as if to say, “See, the WHO thinks I did a great job.” Instead, the WHO simply didn’t go along, and Trump responded, “We don’t need the WHO, we’re doing a great job.”

One wonders if a Trump administration would have been more amenable to working with the WHO had they played ball. Though, this thought is a non-starter, a madman should not be entertained. Perhaps especially in crisis.

Make no mistake, Trump’s “holding the WHO accountable” exists only in Trump’s mind. The rest of the world saw something else. They saw Trump exert pressure on the WHO and the WHO, in turn, remained frustratingly neutral even in light of China’s exposed deceptions. That steadfast neutrality might be nuanced, it might be seen as low-key complicity in China’s malfeasance, it might be that other nations also harbor some unexpressed resentment towards China, and it might be that the WHO is simply unwilling to step outside of its role as the issuer of guidelines in general to endorse and praise one of the few countries not to follow its COVID-19 guidelines in particular.

It is another critique entirely - with perhaps less nuance - to question the WHO’s willingness to adopt equally indigenous, folk, or traditional Chinese medicine alongside modern medicine. It is curious, indeed, how at the insistence of Chinese officials the WHO has included these alternative medicines, and why the WHO seems not to be interested in pursuing the very real obfuscation of information by China when COVID-19 emerged. But it is not curious as to why Trump wanted to either receive the WHO’s praise or burn it to the ground, as it were. He needed some kind of clout for his election prospects. This is one interpretation, and it is mine.

So at the end of all this - when looking at the pandemic in terms of today (December 2, 2020) - it’s hard to see why so many are satisfied with Trump’s mishandling of COVID-19. Though it is not hard to see why its persistence has resulted in deep denialism about its transmission, lethality, or even its existence. To admit any of these things is to acknowledge that perhaps he didn’t do as well as he says he did.

With a hundred thousand new cases a day, and with thousands of new deaths a day, it seems the COVID-19 hardliners, those who perhaps saw it as just another strain of flu and nothing more, dig in deeper each day. It is easier to claim that the rest of us are overreacting than to admit you have been led into a cesspool of disease. And perhaps you don’t need to admit such a thing. I certainly don’t want you to repent and admit and shame yourself. But to cling to this notion that those who have died have fit squarely in the “underlying health issues” category is reckless. Perfectly healthy people have died. And patients with underlying health issues have survived. Some people get no symptoms, and some wind up on ventilators. To claim that one reality (relative harmlessness of a novel virus) is more true than another (the physiological destruction it causes in severe cases) is no claim of reality at all. No one likes how our lives have been changed because of this virus. No one likes restricting their movement. No one likes feeling not free. But that’s coronavirus. It is relatively easy to defeat. Easier than, say, winning a global war or removing all the plastic in the oceans. The danger is in the virus’ unpredictability and its fatality rate (2% in the US, compared to the flu’s 0.1%).

Comparing the flu to coronavirus is an incredibly deadly mistake. There is no comparison. But here are some numbers:


2017-18 Flu:

  • 45-million cases

  • 61,000 deaths


2018-19 Flu:

  • 35-million cases

  • 34,157 deaths


COVID-19:

  • 13.8-million cases

  • 272,552 deaths

(accurate as of Dec. 2, 2020)


You might look at those numbers and think - something just isn’t right. And you’d be correct. It isn’t overreaction, it isn’t Bill Gates, and it isn’t a global conspiracy to establish a new world order. It is the virus itself. It is dangerous. It is here and circulating unchecked. People won’t stop worrying about it, talking about it, and taking measures against it until it’s under control or, better, gone.

That’s it. That’s all there is. We don’t take a lot at face value, but we know people who have gotten COVID. We know people who’ve died from it, and we know people who got it and never had any symptoms. We know some COVID long-haulers and we know some folks who ignore all safety guidelines. And that’s frustrating for the rest of us, because the very American thing to do would be to go all-in on curbing spread, something akin to the all-hands effort of WWII perhaps. But that’s not what we got. We have been surpassed by literally the rest of the world in this regard, and maybe that’s what seems not right about the whole thing - we simply refused to rise to the occasion.

But there is another aspect that, admittedly, I have only now considered. Let’s entertain the skepticism for just a minute. If there is a conspiracy - if Bill Gates wants to put trackers in our bodies via vaccines, if the WEF plans to use this pandemic to reset the world, if we are simply overreacting to a benign virus - then where exactly is the harm in staying home, restricting movement, wearing masks, and in general taking all the passive steps required to quash and minimize its spread? If we let the virus die out, if we starved it, if it was engineered in a lab to spread unchecked, then why, exactly, are we so deadset on interacting with it and proliferating its spread. Starving it into submission, eradicating it by preventing its spread, would be the exact thing a sane person would do to avoid all the things we’re afraid of. Bill Gates’ vaccine and trackers? Pointless when you get rid of the virus requiring a vaccine. Same with The Great Reset - there would be nothing to reset if the virus were simply gone, if we starved it and went back to normal life. If it was engineered in a lab and could be gotten rid of simply by not spreading it, then our power is in our willingness to prevent spread.

It’s a curious logic we’ve arrived at, where guaranteeing the need for a vaccine and allowing for the proliferation of a virus are seen as the solution to the malevolent forces who wish to achieve exactly what we’re doing.


“A pestilence isn’t a thing made to man’s measure; therefore we tell ourselves that pestilence is a mere bogy of the mind, a bad dream that will pass away. But it doesn’t always pass away and, from one bad dream to another, it is men who pass away, and the humanists first of all, because they haven’t taken their precautions.”

Albert Camus - The Plague


Humanism, to Camus, is an expression of dignity, freedom, and respect for one’s self and others. This does not intone freedom as the right to do as one wishes, but the willingness to share responsibility for others. One can be a humanist, aligned with others through solidarity, and be completely at odds with the rest of society. We can choose to unite for others, one kind of humanism, or we can choose to unite against another, a different kind of humanism. Those who refuse to see their actions as affecting the common good, who refuse to acknowledge their duty to the common good, who refuse to take precautions, are humanists devoid of virtue - whose freedoms deny the truth of our human bonds.

We bring this up not out of moralistic duty, but to emphasize that what one feels is right to the self, what expresses as self-freedom, may be in opposition to the rights and freedoms of others. It is a perspective more than a moral argument - we’re not much interested in moral arguments - but Camus offers a unique perspective. His novel, The Plague, wrestles with the idea of lockdown and quarantine during an outbreak of bubonic plague in the Algerian city of Orban, which results in its residents searching for meaning within the confines of the city - no longer allowed to leave, no longer in control of their fate. It is a powerless feeling, one we understand thanks to the spread of COVID-19, and it is entirely pertinent to the calls for re-opening and the stand against draconian measures. It is wholly human to rebel against restriction, but this is how the virus exploits us. It is how we have come to assert some control over something completely out of our control.

Trump has even said: don’t let it dominate you. Don’t let it dominate your lives. We can sympathize with this sentiment - it is exactly what we wish to be true: that by living our lives as normal we can overcome the dread of disease. But this is a false battle - the more we rebel, the more the virus spreads, and the stricter our confines feel. We see this as existential thrashing - we refuse to be dominated and yet, predictably, we face deeper threats to our existence as cases and deaths rise. It is seen as weakness to close ourselves off from our daily lives - to live as exiles in our own home - but the death toll rises as direct consequence of our rebellion. It puts the rest of us, our freedoms and our rights, in jeopardy. It negates our efforts and asks us to accept something that we don’t accept: the notion that inaction is just. Our freedom is in our ability to do good, not harm. This is not a moral stance, we don’t think, but it is a practical stance - we indeed have the ability to control our destinies, but it doesn’t come from sacrificing public health for convenience. It comes from our precautions - mental and physical - allowing us to respond to a crisis swiftly and practically. When we acknowledge the threat, we should recognize that there are steps to take, universal steps, that are good for you, me, and everyone we know.