Donald Trump is trying to keep up with the public’s outcry as the coronavirus continues to spend. Unfortunately, his bumbling incompetence proves just how underprepared the US is for the rising tide of coronavirus cases.
On Friday, Trump announced that Google would be backing US efforts to improve its testing capabilities by creating a website to help American’s self-triage and locate their nearest testing center.
The only problem with Trump’s heroic claims? Google knew nothing about them. While it’s true that Alphabet’s Verily business had been working to create a website aimed at healthcare workers, the firm had no idea the President was about to enlist its help on national television.
Verily’s triage tool is in the early stages of development, and is expected to begin testing in California— but the fact remains that Google leadership appeared to be completely unaware of the President’s intention to push Verily out to the masses on Friday.
The ordeal should come as no surprise. Donald Trump’s entire presidency has been based on a “speak first, act later” agenda. From Twitter rants to political jabs, Trump’s mouth has always been more powerful than his administration. His obsession with TV ratings as a gauge for success suggests as much.
But in an age where coronavirus threatens to plunge the world into a recession of epic proportions, the US needs more than bold words. It needs carefully considered action.
Google appears to be working to shape it’s Verily project into some semblance of what Donald Trump spoke of on Friday. It remains to be seen whether the site will resemble what Mr. Trump described, but as I’m sure he was banking on— something will be made available.
But is feeding the panic really what we need right now? With closed borders, cancelled flights and school closures you have to wonder whether coronavirus is plunging us into economic turmoil or if we’re bringing it on ourselves.
The UK, for example, is taking a more measured approach. Instead of closing schools and encouraging panic, the nation is calling for its citizens to be responsible but maintain as normal a life as possible. According to the nation’s lawmakers that approach means there will be more resources available to the nation’s most vulnerable populations.
As Dr. Clare Wenham, an assistant professor of global health policy at the London School of Economics put it, the UK’s response is one that isn’t driven by the social media-fueled frenzy calling for drastic action.
I am the first to admit that I’m not Boris Johnson’s biggest fan. But I’m relatively impressed that unlike other political leaders, who’ve kind of bowed to the pressure of each other and their populations to implement school closures — which we don’t have enough evidence to know if it will make a difference or not — Johnson is listening to the current evidence that’s out there. He’s not doing a Trump and shutting down borders, which we know will have no effect. He’s taking a rather measured approach now.
Indeed, at this stage, no one is sure what the best course of action is. But governments around the world have to decide which is more dangerous— the virus itself or its economic impact.
Suspending international travel will have crippling effects on airlines— the impact of which may take months or even years to recover from. And for what? Scientists say travel bans at this stage are little more than a placebo to calm the frenzied public.
The science shows that travel bans work if they’re implemented early. But we’re way past that point according to Harvard Epidemiologist Bill Hanage.
Unfortunately, travel bans sound good, but we’re way past the point where simply restricting travel is a reasonable response.
Not only that, but Trump’s travel bans were largely political in nature. They apply only to foreign nationals, not American citizens. Coronavirus doesn’t discriminate, Americans visiting Italy are just as likely as Italians to become infected. Yet, US citizens returning from Europe aren’t included in the restrictions.
Once again, it underscores how Donald Trump’s response to coronavirus is effectively a facade. The President wants to be seen as doing everything he can, but in reality, he’s making bold claims that aren’t based in reality.
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Last modified: June 24, 2020 1:03 AM UTC