Trump’s Response to COVID-19

What has his Administration done so far?

Diya Anoop, Reporter

On January 21, 2020, the first COVID-19 case in the US was identified. Since then the virus has spread a rapid rate, killing hundreds of thousands and severely crippling the economy. 

 As more cases began to emerge, on January 29th the Coronavirus Task Force was formed by White House officials as a means of addressing public fear. The Task Force, Led by Vice President Pence, holds frequent press briefings on the state of the nation and oversees the Federal response to COVID-19. 

However, as more cases emerged much of the responsibility of treatment and preventative action was left to individual state’s governments. Unable to handle the growing crisis states pleaded to the Federal government for aid but were largely ignored. 

 When asked about shortages of medical equipment at a Coronavirus information briefing President Trump responded, “Governors are supposed to be doing a lot of this work, and they are doing a lot of this work, the Federal government is not supposed to be out there buying vast amounts of items and then shipping. You know, we’re not a shipping clerk.” 

 On March 3rd, VP Pence announced that the CDC’s federal restrictions on drug testing would be lifted in order to expedite the search for a vaccine. Around this same time, the US began to instate travel bans, first just from China, and then from the majority of the EU. Borders with Canada and Mexico were also closed, with the exception of essential travel. 

 On March 11th, the World Health Organization officially declared COVID-19 a global pandemic. Subsequently, the United States declared itself in a state of emergency on March 13th. In the following weeks as cases rose, so did layoffs. According to the U.S. Department of Labor between mid-March and the end of April over 30.3 million Americans filed for unemployment benefits. As companies struggled to survive stock market volatility spiked, exceeding records set during the financial crisis of 2008. The same day both the DOW and S&P (American stock indexes) plummeted by over 12%, their worst drop since 1987.   

 As a result, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES Act) was passed on March 27th. The 2 trillion dollar stimulus bill, “ provides emergency assistance and health care response for individuals, families and businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic, and provide emergency appropriations to support Executive Branch agency operations during the COVID-19 pandemic”, according to a statement made by the White House press secretary. 

 As of April 6th COVID-19 has become the leading cause of death in the United States. Testing has also ramped up; despite the initial scarcity of tests, the United States now has the 2nd highest testing rate in the world. 

 On April 16th the President announced official guidelines for, “Opening Up America Again”, in the hopes that it will benefit struggling businesses and the economy. The guidelines outline a three phase plan meant to be applied by states on a case-by-case basis and ultimately up to the governor’s discretion. But, as some states move towards reopening, health officials warn that easing restrictions too fast could be disastrous. 

 Due to the small business funds from the CARES Act not being as effective as hoped on April 24th the Paycheck Protection Program and Health Care Enhancement Act was signed into law by Trump as another means of helping small businesses. The $484 billion package allows the Small Business Administration additional money to spend on loans to small businesses and includes $75 billion for hospitals and health care providers and $25 billion to expand COVID-19 testing.

 As we reach the two month mark since the declaration of COVID-19 as a global pandemic, people and businesses desperately hope for an end to these difficult times. But despite vaccines being developed at an unprecedented pace, a viable vaccine still seems pretty far off. For this reason, on April 29th, President Trump unveiled a new project dubbed, “Project Warp Speed”, with the goal of accelerating the development of a coronavirus vaccine. Essentially, by testing many different vaccine options simultaneously and beginning to produce them before clinical trials are fully complete, the Trump Administration aims to produce 100 million doses by the end of 2020. 

 While the feasibility of this goal is widely debated, talk of vaccines —however experimental— has some Americans hopeful. Perhaps with some science and a bit of luck this crisis will ease soon. Until then, stay home and stay safe.