After downplaying coronavirus outbreak, Trump declares a national emergency as Pelosi announces bipartisan deal reached with White House to help victims

President Donald Trump shakes hands with House Speaker Nancy Pelosi during the State of the Union Address on February 4, 2020. | White House/Flickr

THE only thing worse than incompetence in governing is to have a president who is being driven by selfish, greedy, malicious intentions. This has been proven time and time again under the leadership of the 45th President of the United States, Donald J. Trump.

The coronavirus health emergency just highlights the failure in his leadership to the detriment of the American people he has sworn to serve.

The United States government could have acted faster, ordered testing quicker, given people science-based facts and information to help them protect themselves more efficiently, had Trump thought of what would be good for the health and safety of the American people more than his political survival.

But as The Independent reported, “Donald Trump did not push to carry out widespread coronavirus testing because he believed higher confirmed case numbers could be damaging for his re-election campaign.”

This much-needed testing on a large scale could have limited the outbreak of COVID-19. Trump has been reluctant to launch a campaign of “aggressive testing,” which could be instrumental in identifying key outbreak areas.

“The U.S. has tested fewer than 12,000 people for the disease since January. In South Korea, authorities have been testing as many as 10,000 a day,” The Independent wrote.

The president was being urgently warned by Health Secretary Alex Azar that coronavirus would become a “major” crisis, but Trump instead downplayed the urgency of the medical emergency, contradicting scientists, WHO officials and the government’s own health officials, politicizing the crisis and blaming it to Democrats.

When speaking to the American people, he and his minions would spew lies that the virus is contained in America, that all Americans would be tested, that this outbreak would go away in April, and that the vaccine would be available in six months. All NOT true.

I watched news reports about the thousands of passengers stranded on a virus-hit cruise ship off the coast of California. Trump’s focus was on the “numbers”  as he expressed concern that letting them come ashore could increase U.S. case numbers.

“I like the numbers being where they are,” Mr. Trump said. “I don’t need to have the numbers double because of one ship.”

“That’s partly because more testing might have led to more cases being discovered of coronavirus outbreak,” Politico health reporter Dan Diamond said as quoted by The Independent, based on his investigative studies on the Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus outbreak.

Speaking to NPR, Diamond said: “The president had made clear – the lower the numbers on coronavirus, the better for the president, the better for his potential re-election this fall.”

There are now more than 2,000 cases of Americans who tested positive, and as of press time, 47 have died. Trump’s response? “ I don’t take responsibility for [the] lag in testing,” consistent in the thinking that taking responsibility would be damaging to his reputation and record.

It was painful to hear the president’s lack of knowledge, if not, malicious choice to ignore the facts when he foolishly compared the coronavirus death toll to that of common flu, which at the very least is misinformation from the Office of the President of the United States.

On Twitter, Trump tweeted: “So last year 37,000 Americans died from the common Flu. It averages between 27,000 and 70,000 per year. Nothing is shut down, life & the economy go on. At this moment there are 546 confirmed cases of CoronaVirus, with 22 deaths. Think about that!”

It was painful to hear Anthony Fauci, infectious disease chief at the National Institutes of Health, fact check and correct the false claims of the president, warning that coronavirus could be “10 times more lethal than seasonal flu”.

Fauci had also been forthcoming when he admitted on Thursday in news reports that the U.S. was “failing” at testing, contradicting Mr. Trump’s claims that “frankly, the testing has been going very smooth.”

Fauci told Congress that “The system is not really geared to what we need right now…let’s admit it.”

What is so enraging is this president’s knee jerk reaction to immediately help Wall Street, instead of helping the ordinary hardworking Americans, whose health, lives and livelihoods because of the outbreak.

His minions in the Republican Party initially even blocked legislation put forth by Democrats that would guarantee 14 days of paid leave for workers affected by the coronavirus.

On Friday, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi delivered a message to the American people announcing: “Today, we are passing a bill that does just that: the Families First Coronavirus Response Act, which is focused directly on providing support for America’s families, who must be our first priority” whether President Trump is on board or not.

As The Hill reported, “Pelosi has spent much of the week in intense negotiations with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin in search of a bipartisan package that can pass through both chambers of Congress and win Trump’s signature.”

BREAKING NEWS: CNN reported the afternoon of Friday, March 13, that President Donald Trump declared a national emergency over the coronavirus outbreak following a week of cancellations, suspensions and growing case numbers that unsettled Americans nationwide.

“The action I am taking will open up access to up to $50 billion…and a large amount of money for states, territories and localities,” Trump announced.

House Speaker Nancy Pelosi on Friday announced a broad deal with the Trump administration on coronavirus relief legislation, though as of press time, President Donald Trump has yet to publicly say that he backs the measure, which adds paid emergency leave and free testing for COVID-19.

As CNN reported, the legislation will also provide, according to Pelosi, “paid emergency leave with two weeks of paid sick leave and up to three months of paid family and medical leave.”

The bipartisan deal will  also expand federal funding for Medicaid “to support our local, state, tribal and territorial governments and health systems, so that they have the resources necessary to combat this crisis.”

On Thursday, the top contenders of the Democratic nomination delivered their own respective speeches rebuking Trump and his handling of the COVID-19 virus outbreak, and offered their own plans to help contain the outbreak and help the American people.

Looking forward, take solace in the thought that the days that we have an unqualified occupant in the White House are numbered. This November, we will vote him out of office.

It’s important that more Americans watch the first one-on-one debate between former VP Joe Biden and Vermont Senator Bernie Sanders, the remaining contenders for the Democratic presidential nomination, to help us decide who to vote for to run against Trump. Due diligence in this democratic process is important. The debate will be aired on CNN this Sunday, March 15.

The race isn’t over. Consider these facts: 3,979 total pledged delegates are available.

The tally now: Biden 887; Sanders 662. The candidate needs 1,991 delegates to win.

Let all Americans cast their votes. This is what democracy is all about.

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Gel Santos Relos has been in news, talk, public service and educational broadcasting since 1989 with ABS-CBN and is now serving the Filipino audience using different platforms, including digital broadcasting, and print, and is working on a new public service program for the community. You may contact her through email at gelrelos@icloud.com, or send her a message via Facebook at Facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos.

Gel Santos Relos

Gel Santos Relos is the anchor of TFC’s “Balitang America.” Views and opinions expressed by the author in this column are solely those of the author and not of Asian Journal and ABS-CBN-TFC. For comments, go to www.TheFil-AmPerspective.com and www.facebook.com/Gel.Santos.Relos

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