Trump: Saving Face Before Saving Lives

At a press conference on March 19, President Trump announced that “nobody knew there’d be a pandemic or an epidemic of this proportion.” He’s lying. In its annual threat report for 2019, the U.S. intelligence community warned “that the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large-scale outbreak of a contagious disease that could lead to massive rates of death.”

Jennifer Horney, founding director of the epidemiology program at the University of Delaware, told CNN that at least since the 2005 avian influenza outbreak, “we’ve been planning for and anticipating a global event like this.” At a 2018 symposium for the National Security Council, the then-director of Medical and Biodefense Preparedness Policy, Luciano Borio, stated “the threat of pandemic flu is the number one health security concern.”

Experts have known for a long time that a pandemic was coming, the U.S. government just didn’t want to take steps to prepare for one. “Three years ago, experts were saying that bat coronaviruses could become a new pandemic,” Harvard epidemiology professor Marc Lipsitch wrote in mid-March. “Almost two months ago, experts were saying that the new virus in Wuhan was potentially a global threat. One month ago, experts were saying that it was likely to be pandemic, and the White House’s response was that this was under control, despite the fact that the U.S.’s lack of testing was demonstrably giving a false picture of the extent of infection. This was foreseeable, and foreseen, weeks and months ago, and only now is the White House coming out of denial and heading straight into saying it could not have been foreseen.”

This pandemic is making it clear that we can’t rely on government officials to keep us safe. They will deny and deny a problem until they can’t deny it anymore, and then tell us no one ever saw a threat coming. They would rather save face than save human lives, but many of us are seeing through their lies.

Featured image credit: Wikimedia Commons