Trump Officials May Have Delayed COVID-19 Testing So He Could Say His ‘Numbers’ Looked Good
It’s a question that, if true, may doom President Donald Trump’s election chances — but more importantly, may cast him in the light as an irresponsible leader at best, and a monster of one at worst.
Did the president, through apathy or purposeful decision-making, refuse to take the threat of coronavirus seriously because he thought having a low count of infected Americans might make him look good politically?
As of Thursday, the United States ranked the lowest out of any industrialized nation in the world in terms of how many tests per million the country had performed to check for coronavirus. America’s rate was 23 per million. The UK’s rate was 347 per million, and Italy had tested 826 per million.
South Korea, whose population is more than six times smaller than the United States’, tested its citizens at a rate that was 162 times higher than our nation’s rate.
The United States is currently testing the smallest percentage of its population of any developed nation pic.twitter.com/WpAJhyxL0y
— Nick Kapur (@nick_kapur) March 12, 2020
For several weeks now, Trump has tried to suggest things were going fine in the U.S. But the first step to stopping the spread of a disease is testing — knowing where it is, and where containment may be necessary. The chart above shows an epic failure on that front, which means two things:
- The disease has likely spread to more places across the country than we are aware of at this moment; and
- The disease has likely infected more people than we know right now.
There’s strong evidence that hints Trump’s failure on this front may have been more purposeful than negligent. One needs to only look at his past statements to see he’s been obsessed with having a lower count of infected Americans.
“I like the numbers being where they are,” Trump said weeks ago, in an attempt to explain why passengers on a cruise ship docked in a U.S. port wouldn’t be allowed onto land at that time.
Politico reporter Dan Diamond, in an interview with NPR this past week, expanded on his own reporting and said his research led him to conclude Trump’s obsession with low numbers resulted in slowing down the urgency for testing within the administration.
“My understanding is [Trump] did not push to do aggressive additional testing in recent weeks, and that’s partly because more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak, and the president had made clear — the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential reelection this fall,” Diamond said in that interview.
With the general election for president being just six months away, it’s understandable that any president, including this one, would want to be seen as someone who acted fast and confident in a crisis such as this. But it appears Trump’s desire to be seen as a decisive leader is outweighed by his desire to do what’s right by the American people.
That in itself may, in many people’s minds, be a disqualifying trait for a president — beyond that, however, it demonstrates a selfishness that goes so far beyond the pale that it’s downright inhumane.
Featured image credit: The White House/Flickr