America seems to have avoided a catastrophic breach of its medical levees. And Democrats could not be more miserable. 

Last month’s worst-case scenarios have yet to materialize. The specter of COVID-19 killing millions of Americans has evaporated. Instead, reopening the economy dominates the agenda. 

While Republicans cheer, Democrats jeer. Their enduring complaint: The president should have attacked COVID-19 sooner. In short, "Trump sighed; people died." 


"The reason that we’re in the crisis that we are today, is not because of anything that China did," Sen. Chris Murphy, D-Conn., told CNN’s Anderson Cooper on April 14. "It’s because of what this president did. It's because he didn’t take this virus seriously … We didn’t need to have tens of thousands of people dying." 

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According to House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., "In January, Donald Trump was warned about this pandemic, ignored those warnings, took insufficient action, and caused unnecessary death and disaster." 

While Senate and House Democrats berate Trump’s early response, what did they do as this plague germinated?  

White House documents, the Congressional Record and news accounts reflect the Trump administration’s ample action and Democrats’ significant sloth on key dates as this pandemic advanced: 

Jan. 6

  • Trump’s Centers for Disease Control and Prevention issued a travel notice on Wuhan, China, before any U.S. infection arose.
  • The Republican-controlled Senate’s one vote ended debate (86-5) on Jovita Carranza’s nomination to head the Small Business Administration.
  • Pelosi’s Democrat-controlled House was out of session.

Jan. 17

  • Trump’s CDC began enhanced screening for COVID-19 symptoms at three U.S. airports, in San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York's JFK. U.S. infections: Zero.
  • Prohibited from addressing anything but Trump’s House Democrat-triggered impeachment trial, the Senate convened for 34 seconds, from 1:59:55 p.m. to 2:00:29 p.m. 
  • The House met for three minutes — from 10:30 a.m. to 10:33 a.m.

Jan. 20

  • Trump’s CDC opened an emergency operations center after one U.S. COVID-19 patient was diagnosed.
  • The Senate was out of session.
  • The House was out of session.

Jan. 21

  • Trump’s CDC expanded COVID-19 checks to airports in Chicago and Atlanta.
  • The Senate rejected Democrat Leader Chuck Schumer’s 11 amendments related to Trump’s impeachment trial.
  • The House met for two minutes — from 10 a.m. to 10:02 a.m.

Jan. 29

  • President Trump chaired his Coronavirus Task Force and unveiled its members. 
  • The Senate impeachment trial continued.
  • The House’s two recorded votes adopted the Student Borrower Credit Improvement Act and an anti-fentanyl bill.

Jan. 31

  • One day after the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a "Public Health Emergency of International Concern," President Trump restricted travel from China. Former Vice President Joe Biden called this policy "hysterical xenophobia." CDC began the first mandatory quarantines since the 1960s. Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar declared "a public health emergency in the United States."
  • Via six recorded votes, the Senate decided not to call witnesses in Trump’s impeachment trial. Had Democrats prevailed, such testimony likely would have added weeks to this disruptive national spectacle.
  • The House was out of session.

Feb. 2

  • Trump’s CDC added Honolulu, Seattle and suburban Washington, D.C.'s Dulles airports to those already screening travelers from China.
  • The Senate was out of session this Sunday. 
  •  The House: Ditto.

Feb. 4  

  • Trump’s Food and Drug Administration allowed emergency use of CDC’s COVID-19 test in non-CDC labs. "My administration will take all necessary steps to safeguard our citizens from" COVID-19, Trump said in his State of the Union address.
  • The Senate met but took no votes.
  • The House met, took no votes, hosted the State of the Union, and then adjourned.

Feb. 5

  • Trump’s then-acting White House Chief of Staff Mick Mulvaney and Secretary Azar briefed lawmakers on COVID-19. "Several House lawmakers of both major parties said the administration has the situation under control," the Seattle Times reported.
  • No surprise: The Senate acquitted Trump on two articles of impeachment, finally sinking Hate Trump, Inc.’s juggernaut that distracted Americans while COVID-19 slithered out of China.
  • By voice vote, the House passed, among others, the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative, the USPS Fairness Act, and renamed a Detroit facility the Aretha Franklin Post Office Building. The House Foreign Affairs Committee held a hearing on "The Wuhan Coronavirus."

Feb. 9

  • Trump’s Coronavirus Task Force briefed the states' chief executives at the National Governors Association Meeting.
  • The Senate was out of session this Sunday.
  • The House: Likewise. 

Feb. 11

  • Trump’s HHS expanded collaboration with Johnson & Johnson’s Janssen Research & Development division to produce a COVID-19 vaccine.
  • The Senate confirmed Andrew Lynn Brasher to the federal bench. 
  • The House passed the Smithsonian Women’s History Museum Act.

Feb. 18

  • Trump’s HHS offered expertise and funds to help Sanofi Pasteur develop a COVID-19 vaccine and treatments.
  • The Senate was out of session. 
  • The House met at 10:30 a.m. and adjourned at 10:31 a.m.

Feb. 26 

  • Trump assigned Vice President Mike Pence to lead the administration’s COVID-19 response.
  • The Senate was out of session. 
  • The House passed the Emmett Till Anti-Lynching Act, the G.I. and Veterans Education Empowerment Act, and ordered a study of the 550-mile Chief Standing Bear Trail from Nebraska to Oklahoma. 

Feb. 29 

  • Trump’s FDA let LabCorp, Quest, and other diagnosticians develop COVID-19 tests and liberated states to engage some 2,000 such laboratories. The administration discouraged travel to parts of South Korea and Italy and restricted arrivals from Iran.
  • The Senate was out of session this Saturday.
  • The House: The same.

March 3 

  • Trump thanked and invigorated staffers at the National Institutes of Health’s Vaccine Research Center in Bethesda, Md.
  • The Senate Health, Education, Labor and Pensions Committee held a hearing on "How the U.S. Is Responding to COVID-19."
  • By voice vote, the House condemned violence in the Central Africa Republic and passed the Malala Yousafzai Scholarship Act — to offer Pakistani women half of U.S. Agency for International Development’s Merit and Needs-Based Scholarships.

March 6

  • Trump signed $8.3 billion in COVID-19 response funds approved by the House (415-2) on March 4 and the Senate (96-1) on March 5.
  • The Senate was out of session.
  • As was the House.


March 13 

  • Having restricted European arrivals two days earlier, Trump proclaimed a national emergency, unleashed $42 billion, forgave student-loan interest; deregulated telemedicine, interstate medical practice and the hiring of physicians at hospitals; and persuaded Costco, Walmart and other retailers to launch drive-thru COVID-19 tests. FDA let Roche and Thermo Fisher produce COVID-19 tests.
  • The Senate was out of session.
  • At 12:51 a.m. on March 14, the House passed (363-40) the $192 billion Families First Coronavirus Response Act, providing paid sick leave, free COVID-19 tests, and more.

Could Trump have done more, sooner? Yes. By definition, every evening that he did not moonlight at the Vaccine Research Center, unpack test tubes and rinse Pyrex flasks was an evening he could have done more.  

But while Trump did plenty to fight this plague early, Democrats largely toyed with impeachment and then dozed off once their magic wand failed to make him disappear.  


They now should stop whining, concede their own comparative sloth and recognize that President Trump has led the federal government and inspired the private sector to battle a health care challenge unlike anything America has confronted since 1918’s Spanish Flu pandemic. 

The fact that COVID-19’s U.S. victims count in the tens of thousands and not millions — heartbreaking as those deaths are — confirms just how much the president’s efforts are succeeding. 


Bucknell University’s Michael Malarkey contributed research to this opinion piece.