Monday, March 16, 2020


Scientists, science writers, governors, mayors, and private citizens have been coming forward to tell us what to do in the coronavirus emergency --and now President Trump is leaping to the front of the parade.
President Donald Trump on Monday acknowledged the gravity of the coronavirus pandemic, releasing strict new guidelines to limit people’s interactions in an increasingly urgent bid to slow the virus in the next two weeks before U.S. hospitals are overwhelmed.

“It’s bad. It’s bad,” the president said at a news conference after releasing guidelines that called for people to avoid gathering in groups of more than 10 people and to steer clear of eating and drinking at bars, restaurants and food courts.

The guidelines — including a strict recommendation that anyone with even minor symptoms stay home — are not mandatory. But they were issued with a sense of alarm and a frankness that Trump has not previously displayed.

The president also acknowledged that the crisis — which has already killed thousands around the world and set off a plunge of world markets — could last months. No country, including the United States, has it under control, he said.

“Each and every one of us has a critical role to play in stopping the spread and transmission of the virus,” Trump said. “If everyone makes this change or these critical changes and sacrifices now, we will rally together as one nation, and we will defeat the virus, and we’re going to have a big celebration altogether. With several weeks of focused action, we can turn the corner and turn it quickly.”
Some of us are news junkies. Some of us saw this coming back in January; we knew the direst predictions and worried that they might come true.

But much of America -- not just Republicans -- assumed it was unreasonable to fear a catastrophe, or had no idea what to think because they don't pay much attention to the news.

To them, the scope of the problem was unknowable until now. Even beyond Trump's base, many of them may think he expressed concern as soon as there was any worrisome evidence available to him. They're unaware of what we were reading and hearing in January and February. They may believe that Trump is leading.

If Trump is still president when we finally turn the corner, he's going to claim all the credit, and much of the country might believe he deserves a substantial portion of the credit. (If he's no longer president, he'll still take the credit, though his defeat will be a sign that we've finally seen through his act.)

I don't know how this will play out. I'm just warning you that there are many people who will say that Trump led us through the darkness of Covid-19 the way FDR led us through the Great Depression.

I just hope it's not enough to win him 270 electoral votes.

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