Trump At Coronavirus Address Emphasizes a "Foreign" Threat, Turns Blind Eye to Domestic Mess
On Wednesday night, U.S. President Donald Trump took to the media and gave an address wherein he lied to the country and its people about the COVID19 outbreak for nine and a half minutes, misrepresenting basic facts about the virus and its severity, downplaying its danger to the people (especially working people), massively overstating the U.S state’s ability to respond to the virus, and drumming up more anti-Chinese sentiment and U.S. chauvinism along the way.
Trump claimed off the bat that “the full power of the federal government and private sector” is being mobilized to combat the virus. If this is the full power, then we are in a very bad spot indeed! The truth is that the “federal government and private sector” have seriously dropped the ball, sitting by as the virus has ravaged the country. Shortages of medicine, testing kits, beds, and other goods are commonplace while people are being sent home with no testing despite clearly showing symptoms of COVID19. What’s more, Trump’s administration insists on forging ahead with existing budget cuts to the Center For Disease Control (CDC) despite the COVID19 pandemic!
Trump also wasted no time in referring to the disease as a “foreign virus” and emphasized the origin of the outbreak in China as an obvious attempt to whip up ever more anti-Chinese sentiment and stir up more support for increasing hostilities and a future war with China. This sort of rhetoric also feeds into existing racist attacks against East Asian people. Already, we have seen an increase in anti-Chinese racism in particular, especially in the U.S. and European countries. In London, a man from Singapore was brutally beaten on February 24. More recently in NYC, a viral video showed a man spraying Febreze on an Asian passenger on the subway.
Trump then announced a 30-day travel restriction on people coming in from the European Union. But Great Britain is exempted from the ban, making it possible for the UK to transmit the virus to the US. There is also a dangerous lack of clarity on whether international shipping and imports are to be affected; though Trump did claim that this restriction would apply to trade, he later tweeted that “the restriction stops people not goods”. Trump also exempted “Americans who have undergone appropriate screenings” – though it is clear that these screenings have been insufficient, with TSA agents themselves infected with and spreading the Coronavirus . These restrictions leave many holes for further introduction of COVID19 into the U.S., and come at a time of already-rampant community spread of the disease in multiple urban centers across the country.
Furthermore, though the Trump government has pledged $8.3 Billion to combat the virus, a look at Italy’s current spending of $28.3 Billion or even South Korea’s spending of $13 Billion shows how inadequate this level of funding is for a country as big as the U.S. Trump mentions “emergency action, which is unprecedented, to provide financial relief for workers sick with or otherwise caring for others or quarantined with the virus” but goes into little more detail on how he aims to provide such help. Indicators point in the opposite direction, especially as Senate Republicans moved to block legislation that would have provided sick leave for all Americans the same day as Trump’s address. In contrast, Trump went into far more detail on how he intends to provide loans to banks and capitalists, with promises to bail them out to offset capital lost in response to market fallout caused by the virus.