Jim Crawford: Dealing with coronavirus

Published 1:00 am Friday, March 13, 2020

The President spoke to the nation this week from the Oval Office about the coronavirus.

Unfortunately, his speech resulted in panic more than convincing citizens that the national government was taking the right measures to protect Americans.

What the president should have done was to acknowledge that the spread of the virus is going to get worse before it gets better, because that is the medical truth.

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Brian Monahan, attending physician of Congress, yesterday told Senate staff that between 70 and 150 million Americans will contract the coronavirus. 80 percent of those infected will likely have mild cases of the virus with little interruption beyond discomfort and a need for isolation. But 20 percent will have serious cases, with 5 percent requiring hospitalization. If current statistics hold up, about 1.5 percent will die from the coronavirus.

At the top scale of 150 million infected, U.S. deaths from the coronavirus could reach 2.3 million nationwide.
The president should have explained that we can still reduce the effects of the virus by taking immediate measures to contain the virus.

We need to cancel large public events, use social distancing when in public, cough into elbows, wash hands frequently and avoid touching our faces. Additionally, on a national level we need federal government leadership in quickly maximizing testing, in providing telehealthcare, and in curbing transmission and optimizing care for those who need urgent care.

We also need worldwide cooperation to fight the spread of the virus, cooperation damaged by the presidents’ sudden announcement that travel from most of the EU will be stopped immediately.

The president should have declared a national emergency to free up $40 billion in federal funds that could be used to provide masks, test kits, pay for hiring more healthcare providers and fund the purchase of ventilators, additional hospital beds and temporary testing tents and facilities.

The president should have directed the federal government to quickly utilize the “drive-by” testing sites used by the United Kingdom and South Korea.

The president should have authorized the release and approval of 200 testing units for the coronavirus sitting out of service because the FDA has not approved its use.

And of course, the president should stop all his rhetoric that politicizes this national crisis, that promotes his own actions as “perfect,” and that undermines the scale and seriousness of the coronavirus.

Most importantly, the president must stop lying about the virus.

Mr. President, the virus is not a “hoax”, it is, according to the World Health Organization (WHO) a pandemic, a serious new illness that requires worldwide effort to contain and mitigate its risks.

Mr. Trump, the virus is not “a Democrat plot” to hurt your re-election chances. Do you honestly think the Democrats organized a pandemic involving now 100 nations because of you?

Mr. President, you said, “anyone who wants a test can get a test.” That is simply not true. The CDC has acknowledged that there is a critical shortage of testing kits available, a problem so serious we cannot determine the rate of spread of the virus at this time.

Mr. President, you should strongly discredit the Fox News commentators and the rightwing radio commentators like Rush Limbaugh who are minimizing the seriousness of the pandemic for disgusting political purposes. Your job is to place country before personal politics, it is time to learn this lesson during the crisis.

Your speech was yet another attempt to self-serve you personally at a time of national emergency. Regardless of your obvious limitations, we need you to, for this moment, be the president of all Americans.

Surely there is a “better you” somewhere inside you.