- - Thursday, April 30, 2020

Television news programs were airing tapes of President Trump this week saying the coronavirus pandemic would soon be over, but no one told that to the virus.

Mr. Trump originally said at the very beginning of the epidemic that the disease would soon disappear like a “miracle,” and before that was calling it a “hoax.” But since then, the virus has claimed the lives of more than 60,000 Americans.

Meantime, there were early signs that an experimental anti-viral drug may be effective in speeding the recovery time for stricken COVID-19 patients.

“The data shows that remdesivir has a clear-cut, significant positive effect in diminishing the time to recovery,” Anthony S. Fauci, who is leading research at the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, announced Wednesday.

Last week, Vice President Pence was predicting “we will largely have this caronavirus epidemic behind us” by Memorial Day weekend on May 25.



Mr. Trump said he was ready to give the green light to reopen stores, restaurants and other parts of the nation’s small business community

Then calmer heads prevailed. Deborah Birx, the White House’s coronavirus task force coordinator, went on NBC News’s “Meet The Press,” to tell the nation that “social distancing will be with us through the summer to really ensure that we protect one another as we move through these phases.”

Dr. Birx also said further testing would be needed before our nation could develop a scientific “breakthrough,” and a vaccine to combat and kill the virus.

Her sound message was a breath of fresh air and common sense in an administration that, all too often, has been playing politics with this deadly disease.

As the death toll has continued to rise, Mr. Trump has been pounding the business reopening issue because of fear that the economy was tanking and that could cost him his reelection to a second term.

“Emily Landon, chief infectious disease epidemiologist at the University of Chicago’s school of medicine told The Washington Post Monday she was concerned about the number of states that are reopening businesses.

“It’s hard for me to know what I’d do” in those states where governors have announced business reopenings, Dr. Landon said.

“I wouldn’t go. And I wouldn’t recommend that my family went. I would recommend that people stay home,” she said.

“This is a brand-new virus, and we have to do these things in a measured way,” she said. “Without requirements for things like [personal protective equipment], social distancing and really thoughtful policies for how to do these openings, it’s not the time to do them,” Dr. Landon said.

“Across the country, however, some states are already relaxing their social distancing restrictions over pressure from protesters, business groups and others,” The Post reported.

“The facts in our state are: March 30, we peaked in hospitalizations, with 560 across the state,” Oklahoma Republican Gov. Kevin Stitt said on Fox News Sunday. “Today we have 300 across the state in our hospitals. We think it’s time for a measured reopening.”

On CNN’s “State of the Union” program, Colorado Gov. Jared Polis, a Democrat, defended his decision to partially reopen his state, but maintained he is focused on social distancing measures that are sustainable for the coming weeks and months.”

“We’ve really been laser-focused on figuring out how we can endure and sustain these kinds of social distancing measures,” Mr. Polis said. “If we can’t succeed in doing that, the stay-at-home was for nothing,” he said.

These conflicting messages from state and federal leaders, as well as from Trump administration, revealed a nationwide meltdown of any consensus about how to stop the epidemic in its tracks.

“After several weeks of a comprehensive economic pause, companies, workers and consumers are returning to a changed landscape,” The Washington Post said this week.

“Hanging over plans to restart the nation’s economic engine are unprecedented health concerns, as people balance each shopping trip, airplane flight and restaurant meal against the risk of catching a sometimes-fatal illness,” the newspaper said Wednesday.

This is a time that calls for national leadership, but as of this week that was sadly missing in the White House.

• Donald Lambro is a syndicated columnist and contributor to The Washington Times.

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