Editor's note: An earlier version of this column incorrectly attributed a quote from a tweet about a China travel ban to Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, D-N.Y. Sen. Schumer did not send the tweet and the column has been updated.
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According to President Trump’s enemies, his response to the coronavirus lies somewhere between reckless indifference and negligent homicide. Nothing could be further from the truth.
Team Trump has battled the virus that causes the respiratory disease COVID-19 with vigor and ingenuity since before this unprecedented global crisis suddenly exploded without warning.
This worldwide pandemic should be free of partisan sniping. Alas, too many Democrats are more focused on attacking the president than the pathogen.
“Unfortunately, this virus laid bare the severe shortcomings of the current administration,” said former Vice President Joe Biden, the unforeseen odds-on favorite for the Democratic presidential nomination.
“We need leadership that listens to science,” Biden said via Twitter. “We need leaders who listen to experts and heed their advice. …That is the responsibility of a president.”
According to sputtering presidential candidate and socialist Sen. Bernie Sanders of Vermont, “the current administration is largely incompetent, and its incompetence and recklessness has [sic] threatened the lives of many people.” He added, “President Trump is unable and unwilling to lead selflessly.”
“The government has entirely failed,” MSNBC’s Chris Hayes lamented.
“The president of the United States doesn’t care about us,” radio host Pete Dominick claimed on MSNBC. “He doesn’t care about the public.”
All these partisan complaints are baseless, as the chronicle below confirms. This timeline summarizes news accounts, government documents, and Think Global Health’s international chronology.
Dec. 31, 2019: China informs the World Health Organization of a pneumonia-like disease in Wuhan, capital of Hubei province.
Jan. 7: The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention launches its Coronavirus Incident Management System.
Jan. 11: China reports the first coronavirus death.
Jan. 27: Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar leads the first daily meeting of the President’s Coronavirus Task Force.
Jan. 29: President Trump chairs his task force and then identifies its members. Among them: Azar, National Security Adviser Robert O’Brien, CDC Director Dr. Robert Redfield, and Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases Dr. Anthony Fauci. Fauci, an internationally recognized immunologist, has led the institute since 1984 under Democratic and Republican presidents
Jan. 30: The World Health Organization proclaims the coronavirus outbreak a Public Health Emergency of International Concern.
Jan. 31: Azar declares “a public health emergency in the United States.”
Trump bans the entry of foreigners who were in China within 14 days of reaching America.
Biden denounces this as “hysterical xenophobia.”
Fauci later praises Trump’s “original decision” restricting entry into the U.S. He tells journalists on Feb. 29: “If we had not done that, we would have had many, many more cases right here that we would have to be dealing with.”
Feb. 5: As expected for months, the Senate acquits Trump on two articles of impeachment, finally derailing a Democratic-built effort to overturn the 2016 election that distracted America while this pandemic incubated.
Trump and Chinese President Xi Jinping confer by phone. Trump promises $100 million to help China and other coronavirus-plagued nations.
The CDC ships coronavirus test kits to some 100 U.S. laboratories.
Feb. 11:The WHO brands COVID-19, short for “coronavirus disease 2019.”
Feb. 22-24: The CDC discourages travel to and from Iran, Italy, Japan and South Korea.
Feb. 26: Trump assigns Vice President Mike Pence to spearhead anti-COVID-19 efforts.
CNN attacks the “lack of diversity” in the Coronavirus Task Force, as if germs gave a damn.
Feb. 29: The Food and Drug Administration frees health diagnostics companies LabCorp, Quest and others to develop coronavirus tests and liberates states to engage some 2,000 such laboratories.
March 4: Trump meets with health insurance company leaders. They agree to cost-free COVID-19 tests.
The Coronavirus Task Force urges nursing homes to limit family visits to shield at-risk seniors from the virus.
March 6: Trump signs legislation providing $8.3 billion to respond to the COVID-19 crisis.
March 11: Trump restricts arrivals from Europe, which reels beneath this disease.
March 13: Trump declares a national emergency, unleashes $42 billion, waives student loan interest, deregulates to promote telemedicine, allows doctors to practice across state lines, and approves rules changes to make it easier for hospitals to hire new physicians.
Trump meets with Costco, Walmart and other private retailers. They soon launch drive-through COVID-19 tests.
The FDA lets Roche and Thermo Fisher produce COVID-19 tests.
March 15: Trump confers with grocers, who agree to stay open.
March 16: Phase 1 clinical trials begin on the first COVID-19 vaccine candidate, just 64 days after China isolated its genome on Jan. 12. “This is record time for the development of a vaccine,” says FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn, resulting from “an impressive public/private partnership.”
March 18: Trump signs financial relief for COVID-19’s economic casualties.
This bill’s liability protection emboldens 3M, Honeywell, and others to market N95 industrial masks for medical use.
Trump presses Navy hospital ships Comfort and Mercy into action.
March 19: Trump announces that Carnival Cruise Lines has offered to allow idled cruise ships to be used as hospitals.
March 20: Trump postpones Tax Day from April 15 to July 15, for filing and payment.
Trump and his colleagues’ labors finally have earned some of his harshest critics’ respect:
President Trump “is being the kind of leader that people need at least in tone … in times of crisis and uncertainty,” said CNN reporter Dana Bash.
“I spoke to the president this morning, again. He is ready, willing, and able to help,” Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., said March 17. “His team is on it. They have been responsive late at night, early in the morning. And thus far, they have been doing everything that they can do, and I want to say thank you, and I want to say that I appreciate it.”
“He said everything I could have hoped for,” Gov. Gavin Newsom, D-Calif., remarked about his discussions with Trump. “We had a very long conversation, and every single thing he said, they followed through on.”
Trump suspended foreclosures on Federal Housing Administration-insured mortgages, proposed sending payments to economically stressed families and individuals, and triggered the Defense Production Act to require companies to manufacture indispensable supplies needed to vanquish COVID-19.
“Politics aside, this is incredible and the right response in this critical time,” said, via Twitter, none other than Rep. Ilhan Omar, D-Minn., usually one of Trump’s harshest critics.
One final key date:
March 3: President Trump donated his $100,000 quarterly salary to the Department of Health and Human Services to bolster its war on COVID-19. Is this the behavior of a man who doesn’t care about the public?
Bucknell University's Michael Malarkey contributed research to this opinion piece.