Letter to the Editor

New York Times details COVID-19 inaction

Monday, April 13, 2020

The U.S. now leads the world in COVID-19 deaths. The New York Times has chronicled some of the events responsible for this tragedy. On Jan. 29 trade advisor Peter Navarro laid out to Trump, in striking detail, the likely a half-million deaths and trillions of dollars in economic loss the pandemic would cause. On Jan. 30 Health and Human Services Secretary Alex M. Azar II directly warned Trump of the dangers of a pandemic. It was the second warning in two weeks. Azar was told he was an alarmist. By the third week in February many of the administration’s top public health experts were advising the president to warn the public and start taking actions like social distancing and staying home from work. With no action taken, the virus spread largely unimpeded.

On March 16 Trump finally agreed to recommend social distancing across the country. His closest associates reported he seemed shell-shocked and deflated and described him as “subdued” and “baffled” by how the crisis played out.

The economy he had wagered his reelection on was suddenly in shambles. As March ended, longtime supporter Kellyanne Conway warned that if he went ahead with his wish to reopen the country by Easter he would be blamed for every subsequent death caused by the virus. So here we are now, with over 21,000 deaths, fighting for our lives. Less than 1% of our population tested and test kits in short supply. It didn’t have to be this way.

— Robert Sneitzer, Spirit Lake