Trump is very, very upset that the American people are praising him for his battle against the coronavirus. His strategy thus far has been mostly concerned with domestic (racist) affairs, closing off our borders and ending flights instead of sinking money into the CDC. In fact, Trump’s proposed budget for 2021 would see the CDC’s budget trimmed by almost 16%, stating that common diseases such stroke and diabetes come from similar risk factors and thus a cut “can help magnify the public health impact.” If approved by Congress, this would also come with a $58 million cut for international HIV/AIDS programs.
So why would Trump be trying to curtail the CDC when we lie on the precipice of a global pandemic? Well, for one, despite being a self-admitted germaphobe, Trump seems to think the coronavirus isn’t such a huge threat. In a news conference this week, he actually claimed our worries of the disease were killing the stock market and distracting us from important matters, saying—just minutes before the CDC revealed the first case of coronavirus not contracted from travel in the United States—“The threat to the American public remains low.” Trump’s big plan for public health? Just wash your hands!
Now, defying calls to form a task force led by an expert to deal with the disease, Trump has appointed Mike Pence as head of coronavirus-related affairs. Why? “Look at the Indiana model, they have been very successful there.” At … dealing with a rapidly spreading illness? We really don’t know what happened in Indiana to prepare Pence for this. In 2014, Indiana did have an outbreak of MERS (Middle East Respiratory Disease), but perhaps more pertinent is Pence’s complicity during the largest HIV outbreak in decades in Indiana (deriving from opioid abuse) due to his irrational forestalling of lifting a ban on institutions providing sterile needles.
Though Pence will supposedly only be filling a supervisory role, we hope he won’t repeat what he did in Indiana and allow matters to get out of hand while he sits, hands folded, watching the world turn in on itself.