A Complete List of Trump’s Attempts to Play Down Coronavirus

He could have taken action. He didn’t.

Comments: 238

  1. I agree with everything written here, but see no remedy to Trumps behavior before November. What's done is done, but we can put pressure on him to suspend all deportations of undocumented immigrants who have committed no other crimes and allow them to come in for testing and treatment with a legal promise of no government use of information gathered now to deport them later. We can demand that instead of giving all the government's money to banks and Wall St. to hold back the recession a substantial part should be reserved to help the infected poor get through this crisis without having to go to work and spreading the virus. That small businesses being forced into bankruptcy are given at least as cheap of credit as the banks are to weather this storm.

  2. Trump has had chance upon chance to act smartly, act promptly, and act effectively to address this pandemic threat. At every opportunity, the actions Trump took are the actions Trump believes will make him look better, and not the actions that will make the country safer. Weeks after other countries are testing thousands of their people each day, the United States - "the most powerful nation on Earth" lags behind. Why? Because testing will uncover more cases, and Trump wants "the numbers" to look better by not knowing. Trump's new travel ban and screening of incoming Americans returning from Europe means passengers, after breathing recirculated air for hours, can stand next to their fellow travelers even longer, to give even one unaware infected person maximum opportunity to spread the virus to hundreds or even thousands of other people in close proximity. Smart thinking this is not... but it is characteristic of the fumbling, bumbling, 'too little and too late' approach that has been Trump's response to the entire situation. Unfortunately, we have to wait until November to enact our effective solution: Vote Them All Out!

  3. @Jim Brokaw Isn’t that the essence of the problem, Trump taking actions he “believes will make him look better”? His unspoken (at least out loud) motto is I believe therefore I am. Thinking is a foreign language to him.

  4. @Jim Brokaw Another sad fact is that even if officials dared to go against Trump’s wishes and decided that mass testing was necessary, the US is woefully unprepared and currently not able to do so. The emperor has no clothes, but this is showing that the US is not that great, either.

  5. @SYJ I believe mass testing (certainly sufficient to identify approximate size and location of the major clusters) to effectively put resources where they need to go is well within our medical establishment's reach. We deliver flu shots effectively--and the virus swabs are about the same size task. So is our ability to build or repurpose enough space for huge numbers of protected wards with beds and ventilators. For many, as a paper from China shows, "ventilators" that are modified sleep anti-snoring masks would save many who needed help breathing. There are several groups in the military (Army and Navy Seabees) and likely others who could build the needed wards. What we lack is the will and imagination and leadership of the executive branch.

  6. I heard Trump say that we have "tremendous control" over this virus in the press conference tonight. This is exactly what is said in the link that you reference by Dr. Fauci who says that we can reduce the number of cases dramatically. That is that same link where you state that scientists "expect" tens of millions to 215 million cases. CNN also foolishly gave a headline tonight on how Trump's statement of tremendous control contradicts Fauci, which it does not. This is not a time for partisans falsely crying fire in a crowded theater.

  7. @Dan There is a difference between having control and exercising it. A lot more is being done which is good and I agree that the media outside the Fox-Trump bubble must be scrupulous in its honesty and lack of distortion. I love MSNBC but I have seen both Rachel and Chris drop certain facts that contradicted their narrative. That is bad. But more could be done in DC and it isn't happening. I trust Dr. Fauci but even he has to toe the line some. No one should be going to restaurants or bars and he stopped short of saying that directly. Sometimes you have to read in between the lines. We should have a leader we can trust explicitly and we don't.

  8. @JohnFred PBS, NPR, BBC, NYT and WAPO are more objective.

  9. The World Health Organization maintains a "Situation" report with all known new and total COVID-19 cases worldwide by country. It is updated daily. The March 14th the report had 1,678 cases in the U.S. Today's report has the same number. No new cases. Today's report showed 41 deaths from the virus in the U.S. A week ago, March 8th, there were 11. So, in one week there have been 30 deaths from the virus. There have been approximately 1,000 deaths in the U.S. from influenza during that week. Trump had every right to downplay this "pandemic". Like Y2K, lots of panic and dire predictions for naught.

  10. @PLMD Look at what is happening in Italy. Their hospitals are overwhelmed. They are making life and death decisions based on who is most likely to survive. They are just a few weeks ahead of us. How can you deny what is a very objective and scary trend? On top of the fact that we have had lousy access to testing so accurate numbers are still to come.

  11. @PLMD As I understand it, the lack of testing in the US essentially means that the official numbers are not representative of the actual situation. Which is a problem stressed in the article we are commenting on: we don’t know right now what the situation is. Concerning the “dire predictions” you cite, a quick look at the developing situation in Europe can give you a hint as to why people make them.

  12. If we're not testing -- and we're not, not anywhere near enough -- the numbers you're relying on aren't true. Utah has had community spread, but testing here is limited to those who've had contact with a confirmed case.

  13. Repost of my comment to Dowd's column, which I believe sums up our failure to address the CV problem immediately: "I am completely baffled as to why I still read comments praising Trump's handling of the CV crisis, especially given the fact that, in approximately mid January, we had the same information on the virus as did South Korea. With the early information in hand, South Korea quickly mobilized to test as many people as possible, whereas our administration sat on their hands, denying there was a problem and calling the media coverage of the CV a "Democratic Hoax." I am unaware of the extent of travel restrictions or public closings in place in South Korea, except for the supposed fact that the government, through their extensive testing, was able to micro-manage extensive quarantine measures to identified " CV clusters," whereas as here in the US we are taking a shotgun approach, because we have no idea of the extent of the spread of CV. Dr. Fauci, who is now the face of the federal government for the CV response has stressed the need for containment, but how do you contain an invisible disease without shutting down the entire US economy? Bottom line is we had the same opportunity to handle the crisis as did S. Korea, and we botched it."

  14. @Jim Hello Jim, Here is the very latest from Korea: I arrived last night in Seoul, Incheon Airport. I was asked to fill out a simple form stating my address, phone number in Korea and whether I had been to Hubaii recently. I was also asked to download an application to my cell phone, on which I must report my condition every day for the next two weeks. As this was being explained to me, they quickly called my phone to make sure the information I had given was correct. South Korea continues to do an excellent job of tracking this virus. Their numbers of newly infected have trended down for the past five days and on Saturday were at 74, first time below 100 in weeks. They are beating this disease with over a quarter-million tests so far and asking people to stay away from crowds. The US is so far behind so many countries when it comes to health care. I am thrilled to be in a safe, healthy country like South Korea where I can be cared for if sick, rather than in the US.

  15. @Jim “We” didn’t botch it, the Trump administration did.

  16. @Jim I think we also have to factor in the fragmented nature of our health care system and the lack of a social safety net for many working people. South Korea has universal health care, so nobody has to worry about paying if they go to the hospital. South Korea has 12.17 hospital beds per 1000 people; we have 2.77. This is an outcome of our for-profit health care system and is going to result in many unnecessary deaths. We also lack paid sick leave for many jobs (gig economy, anyone?) and many people living paycheck to paycheck will continue to work even when sick. As businesses close down, these people won't be able to pay for rent and food. Trump's inadequate response is peanuts compared to our lack of infrastructure. We are on course for a much worse outcome than other developed countries such as Spain and Italy.

  17. The listing of Trump's congenital inability to think, feel and act in a humanitarian way will exceed Shakespeare's oeuvre, in quantity and in tragedy.

  18. @The Pessimistic Shrink bravo!

  19. Trump's insistent denial of reality is egregious and clear, but it remains to be explained adequately. Did he really think it was a Democrat fabrication? Is he totally oblivious to facts and events? Is he completely surrounded by evil advisers? Does it reflect his anti-science mentality? Or all of these things and more? The pandemic is bad enough, but we see the same pattern with respect to climate change, Russian interference in our elections and other matters, etc. What does the future hold for us under his leadership?

  20. I don’t see much difference in Trump and other leaders. At first, they all tried to minimize it; then, they reacted—sometimes overreacted. The differences in the US are structural in nature. It isn’t primarily Trump’s fault.

  21. @Michael Livingston’s The main differences between them are the factors of deliberate malevolence and complacent psychopathology. Trump has the overwhelming market share of these.

  22. @Michael Livingston’s Cutting and dismantling agencies which were in place to combat such types of pandemics is entirely Trump's fault, and has led to a chaotic and unprepared response. His ego trumps experts and science.

  23. @Michael Livingston’s Mike, The difference is America is better and Americans expects better from our leaders. China, Iran and Italy is a low bar to aspire to. Also Taiwan, South Korea, Hong Kong did an exemplary job. I agree with you regarding structural deficiencies starting with the White House and its well documented decision to degrade our pandemic readiness.

  24. The mistakes must stop. The country needs to shut down for 2 to 3 weeks to take stock and allow our health services to prepare. Will Biden or Sanders be the adult in the room and take leadership. As Leonhard aptly said, Trump is over his head and needs the CDC/Pence to coordinate all resources available. Does Mr Trump want to protect his image and have an extra million deaths on his hands? Let's act now together as Americans and do the right thing, and if the President can't lead, then he should get out of the way.

  25. @Sailaway Thank you Sailaway. I have already contacted all of my Congressmen, including the one who suggested that impeaching Trump could cause "irreparable damage", and pleaded with them that is was time for President Pence.

  26. Trump has always been politically driven during his response right from the beginning. When this crisis is looked back on Trump will have American blood on his hands, I hope he will be called to account!

  27. I think there will be two sets of future history books.

  28. @Dave Trump also has blood on his hands re: his kind response to Puerto Rico’s hurricane. Then there are the children separated from their parents with no accounting. Now, add the potential damage of our economy and the deaths of Americans, perhaps in at least the hundreds of thousands, if not worse, and you have quiet the karmic list. And, we’re in the dark re: “the numbers” because there are STILL not tests for the general populace. It is up to each of us to take care of ourselves as best we can.

  29. @Dave "I am in blood Stepped in so far that should I wade no more. Returning were as tedious as go o'er."-- Macbeth Even Shakespeare might falter at how to properly embody the magnitude of DJT's hubris and immorality. Humanizing him would be the trick.

  30. Trump focuses on the next news cycle. This is a longer term problem, and will not be solved before his next tweet. Unfortunately, long-term planning is not in his skill set.

  31. @EdBx Given Trump’s malevolent policies, maybe we’re luckier than we could ever imagine simply because long term planning is an anathema to him.

  32. While it is easy to criticise the response of the Trump administration, the sad reality is that the fundamental problems of American society which are contributing to an acceleration of the COVID19 outbreak were there for decades and will remain after he is gone... lack of healthcare, weak or absent sick leave provisions, exorbitant medication costs, lack of coordination between states, etc. Pandemics have killed more Americans than all of the wars of the last 150 years combined. Yet the US spends nearly 6000% more on the military than it does on protecting it’s citizens from dying from COVID19 and the like. The irony is that the current outbreak will cost the US dearly.

  33. @Rob That is really well said. The long decline of America's health care systems coupled with previously very loose immigration policies are a cocktail for viral disaster. China and the US are nearly parallel with their healthcare negligence and therefore its no coincidence that COVID19 has thrived in the US. Over here in Oz, the majority of our cases are coming from the US. Surprising and disappointing.

  34. @Rob Your response ignores the fact that under the Trump administration there was a concerted effort to eliminate the provisions we had in place to address our response to a pandemic.

  35. @Rob I believe Trump's response to this crisis has been negligent and self centered. That said, I concur with everything you've said here.

  36. I keep going back to my experience on Wednesday with the checker at my local grocery store who insisted the coronavirus was just the flu. I told her wherever she was getting her information she was being misinformed, but clearly she was getting her news from the President of the United States. And Fox News. We have been lucky so far with limited cases in Montana, but like everyone else I suspect those numbers are about to spin out of control as testing becomes more widely available. In the meantime, though, we have workers like the checker who is continuing business as usual, without even worrying about getting it herself, much less passing it along to all the others who shop there. Needless to say, I no longer am going into that store.

  37. @avrds The checkout person at my store told me only 5 people in NH have Coronavirus. I replied that since testing isn't available, we have no idea how many people actually have the virus but it's certainly more than the reported number and we need to act like it and take precautions.

  38. @avrds I had to explain to someone the difference between a virus and bacteria. The base knowledge of science in this country is awful

  39. @avrds Whoever tells me it's 'just the flu' - I don't bother arguing that it's not. I just remind them it was 'just the flu' in 1918 as well. Most people have never heard of this.

  40. Thanks very much for this. As you said, Trump is already trying to spin an alternate history, and he will only ramp it up. It's important to document facts and get the record straight. I hope the NYT continues to do this.

  41. @Norburt The best way to "document" is with video clips of these statements by Trump. Videos can not perceived as "fake news."

  42. @Tom Actually videos are easily manipulated, not just with deceptive editing, but with outright fraud (changing settings, words, even people). We will see more of this form of disinformation going forward.

  43. @Norburt Videos can be faked, but numerous independent sources of videos, recordings, reports, and transcripts can separate the genuine articles from the fakes.

  44. I have been wanting to see just such a list ! Great idea.

  45. If this situation has not illuminated how I’ll equipped this man is to lead our nation in a crisis I’m afraid what it will take to do so. Though I may not always agree with the governor of my state, I have appreciated Mike Dewines decisive action. I think it’s called leadership. Tell the truth no matter hard hard it is to hear. I don’t want to listen to Sanders and Biden argue and debate tonight- I want to hear them say that this moment requires that dems come together and unite because we are in trouble like never before and it will get worse if trumps not defeated in November.

  46. So sadly, a person’s outcome from this may depend on the state in which he/she lives. Some state governments are taking the virus seriously, while others maintain difficult barriers to testing. It’s not the UNITED states at all. Let’s hope the sycophants at the state level are also held to account for failing their citizens.

  47. @Dee It's not so much the difference across states in testing. The key difference across states is the emphasis -- or lack of it -- on the need for social distancing as a way to slow the growth of cases. Which states are closing schools, limiting gatherings, etc.? I also haven't seen enough on the differences between states on the health of their citizens (e.g., prevalence of smoking, chronic diseases, older people, etc.) And what about the correlations between health status (or prevalence of chronic conditions) and factors like the expansion of Medicaid, percent uninsured, percent without paid sick leave, etc.

  48. We’re obviously way behind the curve because of President Trump. But think about the misinformation conveyed by commentators like Chris Cuomo. Just now on CNN he is insisting that how to deal with Covid-19 is not an area that is good for Sanders. Pressed by a guest on the fact that the lack of preparedness is showing how badly broken the US healthcare system is — including, critically, lack of bed capacity and lack of ventilators — his response is that it’s “nuanced” and we haven’t really heard from Sanders on this. That’s only because Cuomo and his ilk are not listening. As Sen. Sanders has pointed out, this is a situation analogous to war. And we need a government led wartime mobilization. Nothing unclear about that. Only a LCO of imagination on the part of major elements of the chattering class.

  49. The lack of competence and the repeated lies from Lying Donald had created distrust, panic and fear. The way forward will need to rely on state and local leaders and a media that is focused on accurate information, not panic spreading. While we do have a crisis, the sky is not falling. If we panic, the results of the panic could easily be worse than Covid-19. Panic and Fear- Like the line in Dune "Fear is the mind killer..."

  50. This is 'the pivot to presidential' his supporters and the pundits predicted.

  51. @JCX And, have you noticed how ineffective it is?

  52. @JCX Did you omit the /S for intentional sarcasm? I can't tell.

  53. At every turn it’s all about the $. Trump’s main concern was not to rattle markets but they rattled anyway when the virus didn’t ‘miraculously’ go away. DeBlasio’s rationale for delaying NYC school closure was that many of the city’s children depend on schools for their meals and care while both parents must work to maintain a livable wage. How deplorable. NYCThrive has an $850 million budget for mental health. Divert the money from that do-little organization and pay for meals and daycare so that children and their parents can follow the socially distancing rules of the CDC. That will improve mental health.

  54. @Em Ind I don't understand how day care is less of a communicable disease environment than a school.

  55. I would say that this timeline illustrates a modern version of Nero fiddling while a Rome burned, except Trump isn’t simply fiddling. He is actively asking matters worse. His misstatements and outright lies are endangering the public and encouraging continued ignorance and potentially dangerous behavior by his base. He needs to step aside and let the adults take charge. Even Pence seems far more informed and Presidential than Trump.

  56. @Steve J Pence informed? He exalted trump's fictional leadership in seven different ways. He sure is earning his keep if he was hired to verbally pleasure the president.

  57. @Steve J As soon as someone, like Pence or Fauci, appear to be getting credit, Trump is jealous. He is at that level of adolescence or even childhood!

  58. What more does anyone who is not suicidal need to see that this crisis, in the hands of this President, is going to be worse than it should have been? Anyone who continues to downplay the issue and spend time blaming others rather than helping all of us with sound advice and necessary medical action is guilty of criminal negligence, if not worse.

  59. I continually ask myself "how serious a crisis is the corona virus?" I believe altogether there is a tendency to err in the belief that it is likely to be worse than it will actually turn out to be. And there is good reason behind this - it is far better to be pessimistic and not have a serious pandemic with many lives lost, than to predict a more optimistic outcome, only to have the crisis turn out to be much worse. Any educated, open minded person knows that Trump lacks the skills necessary to provide sound leadership during the crisis, and for reasons that generally suit his agenda of being concerned only for himself, his professed outlook is that the crisis is overblown and being hyped by both the Democrats and the media. Almost everyone seems eager to continue to point out his limitations and his inability to provide adequate leadership. Why is it considered necessary to keep repeating this same story every time a Columnist wishes to bring it up? Is there really anyone who doesn't know this by now?

  60. @Richard Phelps "Is there really anyone who doesn't know this by now?" Since a little over 40% of the country still approves of the job he's doing, it does seem that that there are millions who do not know this. They probably don't read or trust the NYT, but I do appreciate journalists providing well documented time lines like this to at least keep his incompetence and callousness in the public consciousness, and keep the pressure on DT to do the right thing. The alternative is to say little or nothing, which would be tacitly approving of the job he's doing.

  61. @Physiologist These people are suffering because their standard of living continues to fall; many of them are unable to find suitable work or have to work more than one job. They don't have adequate health care, etc., etc., etc. They support Trump because he, like them, blame the "elites" for their problems and every time he lashes out at these elites, they rejoice and love him for it. These people are not going to disappear, indeed, Trump's replacement is likely to be for more politically savvy than Trump is. The problem is only going to disappear if/when our government is able to improve the living standards of the average American worker. And that is not going to happen as long as Republicans control any branch of government. And whether this happens or not before our Democracy is beyond repair has yet to be determined.

  62. @Physiologist I was encouraged today that my daughter in Cleveland, a registered Republican, though she will not vote in this primary, appears committed to voting Trump out of office in November. I hope the new 18 year old voter in the family will go with her and her husband also. That is three against Trump. Maybe that will be multiplied even in Ohio!

  63. Thanks for this! I'm tired of telling people over and over what could have been done and wasn't. And even defending doing nothing as appropriate at the time.

  64. This is a good summary by David. It's also very disheartening. A country such as America elects a president who has no inkling about how to demonstrate leadership in what is a mortal crisis. He could pass the responsibility on to those who are highly skilled in this matter. He does not. Worse, he has misled the public repeatedly about the seriousness. Some of the panic stems from a sense that no one is in charge with any competence to do what needs to be done. And yes, it is scary that 45% or so of Americans still approve of Trump's job performance.

  65. He can't pass on to lieutenants to handle the various aspects of the issue becuase his sychophant hangers-on have third-rate minds with little or no administrative acumen.

  66. @blgreenie. Yes we need to work on the 45% of angry/ill-educated/ unfortunate or ideologically closed people.

  67. I direct a large reference lab. This week we hope to have our COVID testing up and running. The lab personnel spent all weekend making sure the test will work. The scarcity of tests is due to mistakes made by the administration. Capacity is significantly limited. We are facing shortages of the swabs to take samples and reagents needed for testing. Of course, we are trying to buy more equipment and supplies, but so is every other hospital in the US. In 3-4 weeks, provided our supply chain stays open, we will be able to offer testing. So the administration can set up a Google website, but there still won't be capacity to offer everyone a test. There are significant regulations affecting how we can offer tests and it takes time to offer tests, time that was frittered away in February. Please unless you're symptomatic and at high risk, don't ask for a test. We have tests sitting in bags in buckets and no place for them to be tested yet. Everyone I know is overwhelmed. Unfortunately that means that we don't have the capacity to test the population at large to know how much COVID is out there.

  68. @Lab MD Sorry, Pastor Pence has already opened the floodgates: "Everybody who wants a test can have one." Republicans above all should know that once entitlements are given, they're impossible to take away. The tsunami of false positives has begun.

  69. Thank you for your Herculean efforts and for taking the time to post this.

  70. @Lab MD Wishing you and all of your colleagues well. Millions of us are rooting for you and hoping that all in the front line stay well. Thanks, too, for the important reminder to not demands tests; we can all do our part.

  71. Trump is correct. The test is available and can be sent to commercial labs. But commercial labs will not collect nasal specimens. The difficulty to get tested has to do with safe test sites and capacity to do tests when the same people are doing 3 jobs. Not a single journalist ask about who is collecting nasal swabs and where are the safe testing centers.

  72. Leonhardt’s timeline is correct. The tests weren’t available when Trump made that claim, nor for several weeks after. More tests began to be available last week. There may be additional problems with processing the tests (I don’t know—I haven’t heard of any holdup) but a severe lack of tests made it almost impossible to get a test in California in February or early March.

  73. @NSf Ha~! Well I suppose the difficulty is not collection of samples, but evaluation of them.

  74. These may be good questions, but should have been asked 6 weeks ago when 45 was calling all of this a hoax

  75. Thank you for the timeline and chronology of Trump’s responses over the last two months. Trump cannot call it fake news when it’s coming directly from his own mouth. This is very important work with implications for the upcoming election.

  76. I see many of his fans saying that trump is really working really hard to protect us from this disaster. The point they fail to appreciate is that if he'd been doing his job correctly we might not have the disaster to deal with. That's what good leadership and proper management does: It prevents disasters from happening. And here we are ...

  77. Self-serving denial of truth began on Jan. 20, 2017 with claims about attendance at the inauguration. It continued through climate change and vaccines. In those cases, we have finally started locally to work around poorly informed federal leadership decisions. So, too, now. It has never been otherwise. Perhaps this time the dire consequences will lead to the cultural revival of respect for expertise?

  78. @DK Allchin. Actually began the summer of 2015 when he won the nomination. Mistake in dismissing him as bad reality TV. Despite his inability and lack of fundamental understanding of how government works, he has been effective in putting officials in place to take our democracy down. He as always successfully gamed the system. Unfortunately disease knows no boundaries. Starting to look like 1929 to me..

  79. Trump is doing exactly what all lousy managers do. When something goes wrong they say, "Problem? Why there is no problem here at all". Then when the problem manifests itself to the point that its existence cannot be denied they say, "Yes you see but none of this was my fault. It would have happened no matter what I did." Then when other people much father down the management chain take it upon themselves to correct the problem, the Trumpian manager takes credit for all of their actions and claims the solution was his idea all along. This is exactly what Trump has done. It is standard corporate management incompetence writ large. Just now, the Fed has dropped interest rates to near zero. This will most likely spark a short term rally in the stock market tomorrow. Trump will now take credit for the rally as he pushed for a big rate cut last week. Trump is saving the day. But is he? For the Fed to drop rates 1.5% in such a short time to nearly zero, and at the same time add enormous amounts of liquidity to the system is proof positive of the dire straits we are in. The nation, excuse me, the world is shutting down. This will cause a global recession. There is no way out of it. The Fed understands this. Economic fundamentals will continue to deteriorate over the coming months. There will be no more rate cuts. Will Trump take responsibility for that carnage? Reference my second paragraph above.

  80. @Bruce Rozenblit Bruce, as always, you have summarized the situation brilliantly. Dow Futures are actually DOWN right now. The Republican Wall Street crowd may finally realize that their government welfare fund may be drying up.

  81. @JCX Yes, I see that now. Dow futures hit limit down. There is an understory here. Last week there was reporting in the paper that the bond market was experiencing a lack of liquidity. This is very serious and could be an indication of a coming breakdown in the global financial system, hence the Fed's boost in liquidity. This could result in a locking up of the credit markets and that would be devastating. Further investigating is required because we really don't know all that is happening. But whatever is happening, it is happening fast and any problems in the global credit markets, especially in the middle of a global recession, could spell disaster.

  82. @Bruce Rozenblit Great comment, Bruce. It matches perfectly with my experience in a Fortune 500 company. When no one has an answer for where a problem came from, the odds are that it originated at the top of the decision tree.

  83. Excellent summary. Greatly appreciate the work you do!

  84. We will need to keep reminding Americans of these failures between now and November. They are perfect examples of the danger that 45 represents for everyone, Democrat, Republican and Independent.

  85. The world at large has to make a simple choice: When this is all over, do we want to be remembered as a Chamberlain or a Churchill? The choice is ours to make.

  86. @gary s Are you really suggesting we are facing a situation as dire as the coming of World War ll? I hope so, but if not, I am. Thanks for your suggestion.

  87. I guess American travelers from China were not quarantined initially unless they showed signs of sickness as they entered the U.S. airports. Not all were examined. Missed opportunity to stop the spread. (Los Angeles) My community has 15 cases, almost all travel related. One business is booming here—ammunition sales. The lines are long with hours of wait time. Buyers say they want to be prepared for possible theft of their stock of supplies in their homes by people made desperate from shortages. This is what the survivalists have been preparing for. This is Southern California!

  88. Many students of sociology, medicine etc are taught about public health measures. Trump looked only at certain numbers before him (one person came in from China; five cases all recovering), don't let people off the boat it will mess up the numbers.) In fact one suspects he did not want testing because in his gut he knew it would increase "the numbers". This is vintage Trump, but it runs counter not just to academic, scientific knowledge, but also common sense. He failed to see Wuhan as a case study of what the virus was doing.

  89. Trump, Pence, etc, etc have known for almost four months about the Coronavirus, What did they do? NOTHING ! How can Americans trust them to do anything more than look after Trump's real estate?

  90. I forget who originated the dictum: "Lead, follow, or get out of the way!" Trump has proved time and again he is not a leader. As for following, he resists following experts and even the urging of his own advisers. So that leaves getting out of the way, which would be an excellent result in the case of Trump

  91. Previous presidents have been judged by the number of people who have lost their lives as a result of decisions they took and did not take. Certainly President Trump should be judged by the same standard, and the number of Americans who have and will lose their lives to this epidemic should be added to his rubric. Let history judge.

  92. @Andrei Foldes We cannot wait for history to judge. This is happening now and this is the time to make the change happen. We have watched and listened to him and his miserable administration for nearly four years. The proof of his incompetence is evident and ongoing. No need to wait for history to judge. Make the change in November.

  93. Pretty sure that if we got enough tests at the end of February we would know the clusters of infection and didn’t have to do extreme measures as we did. If we had got them mid-February we wouldn’t have to cancel March Madness, NBA and most other sporting events.

  94. I arrived last night in Seoul, Incheon Airport. I was asked to fill out a simple form stating my address, phone number in Korea and whether I had been to Hubaii recently. I was also asked to download an application to my cell phone, on which I must report my condition every day for the next two weeks. As this was being explained to me, they quickly called my phone to make sure the information I had given was correct. South Korea continues to do an excellent job of tracking this virus. Their numbers of newly infected have trended down for the past five days and on Saturday were at 74, first time below 100 in weeks. They are beating this disease with over a quarter-million tests so far and asking people to stay away from crowds. The US is so far behind so many countries when it comes to health care. I am thrilled to be in a safe, healthy country like South Korea where I can be cared for if sick, rather than in the US.

  95. @Mike If we had a real leader in the White House, perhaps we, too, could be as sensible as South Korea. Instead we have a con man. Too many Americans are going to lose their income, and perhaps their lives, because of this mess. While Trump supporters may be keen to ignore the truth, it is imperative that more Americans vote. Without sound leadership, our democracy will continue to suffer.

  96. I echo your comments. With with sadness, I realized that it's better and safer for me to remain here than to return to the US, both in terms of how the government is handling the pandemic as well as in the event I need medical care.

  97. @ABroadAbroad Moving in and around crowds will, obviously, entail risk. It does everyday. The degree to which people adopt panic will impact any conditions in two ways: increased pressure at a single point in time, hoarding/herding that merely increases social contact and depletes supplies. However this ends, there will be basements of toilet paper hoarded by a few; and there will be additional cases contracted by people who could not delay their travel by even a few days. Neither of those is anyone's fault but the people propagating the behavior. Remain in Europe. Take a walk outside. We are all sitting in our homes here, so your are missing nothing if you have access to Netflix where you are. But feel free to blame the government. Maybe Biden will take over and his opponents can attack him during the next crisis that will come.

  98. The Coronavirus scares me. But what scares me the most these days are the large number of people that think the president is doing a great job with this crisis. When the virus is history and Trump is finally history those people will still be here. What can be more scary than that?

  99. @Photomette I agree that some of the Trump supporters who believe he's doing a great job with this crisis will indeed be here after the crisis passes. But some, along with a to-be-determined number of the rest of us, will be found in the obituary pages. Yesterday I went to the used bookstore in my town and bought a handful of novels with end-of-the-world or post-apocalyptic plotllines. I desperately needed some sort of escape beyond the nightmare I'm living in right now. I never thought I'd turn to those sorts of novels for therapeutic comfort.

  100. Finally the story I was looking for! Why did I not see anyone cover this in this way...a persistent chronological showing of Trumps denial, lies, and inaction harming lives, social fear, and ultimately the markets he fears most!

  101. @Constantine Geroulakos Right. And this story cannot just fade away. It needs to be updated daily, because this is going to get worse before it gets better and Trump is not done lying about it. The worse the situation gets, the bolder his lies will be.

  102. Just think that coronavirus data have been classified ...

  103. @Bernhard Yikes--classifying Coronavirus information might allow Trump to hide the number of cases and any problems with finding ventilators -- or even announcing casualties. Republicans would hail Trump's "genius" at managing the crisis (what crisis?). Hiding those who are sick could be part of the classified solution--allowing those who recover to return after telling them they were saved by Trump's own personal invention of a cure (after all overy 90% of those who get coronavirus recover without anything but flu medicine). All others would be said to be isolated, but "slowly recovering" (at least till after the election). Trump would issue the "all clear" to restart companies, sports and his beloved rallies. After Republican behavior during the impeachment, it appears they will defend even this. Soon teams would appear to give a new "instant test" to those who irritate Trump--leading to their "positive results" and disappearance. into "isolation". Possible? I hope not--but once facts and morality do not matter, why shouldn't Trump turn Coronavirus into a means to ensure his reelection? The Republican party of today would cheer him on.

  104. It would be equally interesting to track the timeline of when prominent epidemiologists, health care providers, and elected officials loudly sounded a red alert. It should have been obvious by February 1st at the latest, to anyone following this situation, that it required a huge, multi-faceted emergent response.

  105. David, I’m definitely no progressive but I enjoy your podcast with Michelle & Ross & find your comments charming, thoughtful & balanced. So I’m disappointed to see you penning a pin-the-virus-on-Trump piece to add to the giant pile of pin-the-virus-on-Trump pieces put out by the Times & the Post over the last few month. During this difficult & stressful time, journalism deliberately aimed at undermining the public’s faith in our sitting president seems deeply counter-productive & even irresponsible. There will be plenty of time for politics later. For now I suggest you consider more constructive & less threadbare topics.

  106. @Charles Woods If now is not the time... when, then, would be the time? When leadership in a crisis is so bad that it actually worsens a perilous situation, then the decent thing to do for the leader is to graciously (and selflessly) step aside. Bring in Dr. Fauci--calm, composed, measured, informed, and utterly convincing.

  107. @Charles Woods As a retired public health specialist, I am appalled at the presidents actions. Every journalist needs to call him out on this. The lack of testing, will cause many needless American deaths. All Trump cares about is the DJIA (Dow).

  108. Yes, Charles, everyone should stop talking about a subject upsetting to you personally. No one has any real faith that Trump can to lead in a crisis — making crises is his forte. In fact, there’s 50 years of reporting on this privileged child of wealth who has repeatedly demonstrated that he never takes responsibility for anything that goes wrong with any of his ventures. The office of the presidency is political by nature. Attending to that political office is real power for a thoughtful person to show humility and solidarity with everyone who is afflicted during a crisis. Trump hasn’t exercised that power, and no one expects him, too. Instead, in his determination to enforce loyalty to himself personally, he is likely preventing an honest assessment of the situation by competent and qualified health and disaster management experts. People who speak up and tell the truth instead of Trump’s alternative facts risk their careers and having their safety threatened by the most fanatical of Trump’s supporters. Remind me again, who politicized the response to the Coronavirus outbreak, please, Charles. So many threads to unravel, it gets confusing for me.

  109. "On Feb. 19, he told a Phoenix television station, “I think the numbers are going to get progressively better as we go along.” Four days later, he pronounced the situation “very much under control,” and added: We had 12, at one point. And now they’ve gotten very much better. Many of them are fully recovered." Reminds me of the scene in Chernobyl where Dyatalov, when told what a radiation dosimeter was reading, says "3.6 Roentgens per hour. Not great, not terrible..." 3.6 R/h was the maximum value the instrument could register. The actually radiation level was much higher. It's definitely not great when your meter is pinned at the maximum value it can read.

  110. You got that exactly right! Our equivalent to the dosimeter is the limiting numbers of tests.

  111. Yes, it's all true, but even Trump, now, has to succeed. The right people are coming to the front of the room. I've seen some of the true leaders: Mayor deBlasio's briefings, and Gov. Pritzker explaining what we must do and why and Dr. Fauci. Our lives are temporarily changed in ways almost none who is living today has experienced. So I think pestering anyone right now is not a good idea for a journalist, press conference attendee, or candidate.

  112. Reporting the truth isn’t pestering. In fact the coverage has given Trump an almost daily guide to what he could and should be doing. He hasn’t taken the advice. Now it is up to the electorate to act and replace him. For that they must be well-informed, by articles like this.

  113. I want to concentrate on the spreading pandemic but Trump's words and actions get in the way. I want to be concerned and even upset about the whole world and the issue we are facing but I am now also upset and concerned about the misleader in charge. He is nothing more than a distraction.

  114. @Dart1305 Respectfully, he is more than a distraction. His lies are going to cost thousands of Americans their lives.

  115. This is a tale of not so benign neglect that will result in an ever mounting Trump Death Toll over the next few weeks and perhaps months as the administration tries vainly to play catch up with a deadly virus that is spreading more rapidly and accelerating faster throughout the country than the Trump administration belated actions that leave us still ill-prepared in hospital beds, ventilators, masks and test kits to cope with it. We see the devastation in Italy and now we confront it as our own due to the immense narcissism of Donald Trump who is only concerned with his own political health and well-being through deceit, denial and other blame. This is the immense price the nation will pay for too long denying that we have a mentally ill President incapable of any empathy and thus the ability to protect anyone other than himself. This is the culmination of the media, the mental health profession, and the political elite's unwillingness to confront what has long been obvious [Disclosure: I'm a retired Professor of Psychology and Public Health] to many that we have in Donald Trump a seriously impaired man whose "epic narcissism" is, as some have said, "an existential threat" to all of us.

  116. Trump Death Toll. That’s good. Time to get that trending on Twitter...

  117. The dichotomy between the experts statements concerning case numbers, the availability of tests, and safe practices to avoid COVID-19 spread and transmission has been jarring. I can think of no other administration that has so publicly disregarded sage public health advice, even to the point of likely endangerment of the public. Their behavior has been Alice in Wonderland like in its absurdity. It would make you laugh, were the consequences not so damningly serious. Today the CDC urges that, all across the country, large gatherings of 50 or more be cancelled. I’d lay even odds that a realDonaldTrump tweet will offer contradictory suggestions within a few hours.

  118. In the US big money Trumps all. Corporatism and profits have more value that our fellow citizens to our elected officials. Democrats and Republicans both are to blame for the current disarray and chaos. While they were too busy posturing and hurling attacks at one another; we in the middle class were undermined, underfunded via our local health departments, and once agains subject to corporatism via the "test" that we are paying for when the WHO test would have been more than substantial.

  119. We have not yet seen the peak of the corona virus outbreak. It's coming, but at this time, people can still convince themselves that the danger is just media hype. That is an essence of the problem. People who don't think the problem is real and critical will not do what is really necessary to slow the spread of the virus. As the numbers increase, and they are increasing, the reality will become apparent. Trump will say it's not his fault and, to some weird degree, that's true. But he is responsible for the environment where government employees know that, when Trump gets mad, he gets even. Crossing him is dangerous. It's dangerous to do the right thing.

  120. An excellent and unnerving summary of our President's action and inaction, statements and misstatements. He seems to care more about the stock indexes and his image than anything else. Does anyone still doubt he is UNFIT to be president?

  121. @David even his supporters in the Senate know he is unfit. They don’t care.

  122. This virus is much closer to the flu then to the Black Plague. Unless you are over 70 and have three underlying chronic diseases as 2/3 of the deaths in Italy had, your risk level is about the same as if you caught the seasonal flu, unless you are over 60. Furthermore this virus will probably go away with the warmer weather as has been happening in South Korea and China. The C19 virus seems to be viable mostly in the temperature range between 40 to 55 degrees Fahrenheit. Qom’s temperature today of 70 degrees is an outlier. The Diamond Princess has the best controlled data with 3711 people on board who had multiple chances to become infected from door knobs and handrails. 20%, 705 people, were infected. Six died. So the case fatality rate is 0.2 X 0.85 which equals 0.17. Your risk of dying is only one in 580. But that's only if you are over age 60 and have at least one underlying chronic disease. If you don't meet that criteria your risk is not much greater than if you caught the flu.

  123. @Fourteen14 That's cold comfort to the people in the high risk zone.In other words if I lose my job it's a recession.If you lose yours then it's a depression.These deaths are needless because trump refused to act.let's also not forget that the Spanish flu started off easy,quit for a while then came back with a vengeance.

  124. @RJM Yes, but consider the ramifications if what I wrote is correct. Trump says, "I Told You So," looks like a genius, and gets re-elected.

  125. @Fourteen14... So if I contract this disease at the age of 57 with no other risk factors and live, but I unintentionally give it to my 87-yo mother-in-law and she dies, what’s the fatality rate in my family? Nice use of stats, but is it really helpful?

  126. Excellent brief summary but not nearly a "complete list". I remember others. I am surprised that so many Republicans think he has done great.

  127. @Marvant Duhon Why are you surprised? The current crop of Republicans are self-serving sycophants.

  128. We can't blame Trump for the virus, but we can and should blame him and his administration for failing to respond timely. Hopefully we will vote them out in November, so that, once again, Democrats can repair the damage caused by Republican mismanagement. Apparently a party that thinks government is the problem and is devoted to dismantling the administrative state has a hard time dealing with a crisis.

  129. This is one of the many reasons Trump and the Republican Party must depend on voter suppression and disinformation campaigns to win elections.

  130. Like Russia, Russia, Russia? Or Quid, Quid, Quid? The deliberate lying by the crank left is so overwhelming and so coordinated, that it warps everything. Even calling Trump a remarkable liar is a lie, as his lies are just more clumsy. The crank left is far more crafty, and therefore infinitely more dangerous.

  131. Thanks very much for this comprehensive documentation of Trump's almost-incomprehensible level of malpractice. You've written the scripts for most of the Democratic presidential candidate's ads for the general election. This says it all. If any other professional's performance was this reckless, they'd be removed and pursued aggressively for malpractice. Instead, Trump will get his nice meals, his golf outings, and his chats with Sean Hannity, while others exhaust themselves hoping to remedy the suffering he's incapable of understanding.

  132. @original-Hopefully as more Mar-a-Lago guests come down with the coronavirus--that might make a dent in Trump's denial. And speaking of reckless, the folks in the Trump Admin who declined access to the WHO test need to be called up for reckless endangerment of the nation. Ditto for the Transportation Safety Administration chief David Pekoske who cut the budget for cleaning 100 airporta, has failed to provide the TSA with sufficient safety gear and training, and said not providing health care for part-time workers was a ‘good decision’. https://www.heraldmailmedia.com/news/nation/trump-s-budget-would-cut-bomb-sniffing-dogs-at-airports/article_933e3652-6f9d-5122-a18e-e4101442b451.html

  133. @Ann, Thank you for the link and for adding to David's list, which seems to be the tip of an iceberg.

  134. It's not done getting worse in this country. Thousands of travelers packed like sardines in American airports yesterday and today while they wait hours for Customs and testing will spread this thing beyond control. That debacle is on trump too.

  135. Beating to death the repeated failures of the Trump administration in the print media does nothing to resolve the immediate problem. Can the NYT Op-Ed writers somehow do something constructive and not rehash the well known and obvious. Build some morale. Trump will get his in due time, soon. There is a reason Trump’s well financed and much more sophisticated re-election team wants dirt on Biden, they fear him based on their projections. FYI.. I didn’t mean to imply that Trump himself is sophisticated. Sanders needs to get out for the good of the country right now, his message is valid, but as a messenger he is fortunately constitutionally incapable of the necessary ability to compromise..the most important talent for governance. He also has a disingenuous style in claiming to support anybody that does not embrace fervor for universal healthcare despite having no idea of how to pay for it. But for now let’s get some positive morale spinning..everybody know about Trump’s ego.

  136. @Brewster The NYT is sharing all recommendations from the CDC and NIH. The optimism is that if we as a nation can do as we need, we will get through this in better shape. You see stories of how people are coping, and recommendations on how to cope, where to go for help. The reporting on Trump's issue needs to continue so that the public can help impress upon other leders what needs to be done. Bravo Cuomo. Bravo Illinois. The list goes on. Ignoring or dismissing Trump's behavior is exactly how he got elected.

  137. @Brewster It is not and should not be the role of a legitimate newspaper or media outlet to lead cheers for our country, or as you put it much better, "Build some morale." Perhaps if you looked at other opinion pieces you would see just how constructive the NY Times can be. But they are not entertainment news, at least when it regards a serious viral outbreak. My hope is that the NY Times will be even more comprehensive and synthetic in addressing all aspects of Trump's failure and achievements as an executive, particularly given he has diminished our preparedness for this outbreak and future ones. One could argue Trump has tried to legitimize decisions that have a potentially catastrophic impact on our great country. Didn't he promise us the greatest healthcare ever, and that he would release his taxes and disclose his own medical and mental state? Trump's only loyalty is to his own lies. And it requires a responsible media to expose the reality.

  138. @JP The media hardly ignored him in 2015-2016.... they gave him more exposure than anyone else by far..

  139. I am not a conspiracy believer but I have no doubt that Trump and his hand maidens tried to muffle information about the virus hoping it would go away. This reflected their priority which was to protect Trump's political position and toward that end to keep the stock market high. Compounding the mess they made was a complete disregard for science and rationality. They could not have prevented the virus from threatening us but they could have done a much better job of managing it and limiting it's impact.

  140. Like Trump, his defenders are placing political power over the good of the United States. I wish they would at least accept the reality of the un-presidential and un-American priorities Trump has set.

  141. They can't even acknowledge reality, let alone "accept" it. Eventually there will have to be a reckoning with those who've allowed their wilful ignorance to wreck this nation.

  142. But let's not forget to put things in perspective. All the known combined cases in China to date amount to less than one hundredth of one percent of the population of the Wuhan district alone and the deaths about three one thousands of one percent. Yes, its serious and calls for unprecedented measures, but it's not apocalyptic.

  143. @Kent Kraus. The percentages may seem small, but the numbers projected would overwhelm the health care system. The more important numbers are projected severe cases to ICU beds or ventilators.

  144. @Kent Kraus By all means let's put this in perspective. This is but 1 issue, of many, on which Trump got it wrong. The difference is that he has been quickly caught and the evidence is undeniable. In perspective, how many other issues has he gotten wrong out of ignorance, politics or laziness. Please pull back (way back) so that you have his whole tenure in perspective. It might take 20 more years before climate change is undeniable. How long will it take before the allies he has dissed turn their backs on us? He pushed through tax cuts when the economy was good; using up an important weapon. What is the perspective on undoing regulations that keep our air & water clean? Let's get perspective on the studies he has shut down and the experts he has muzzled so that we won't even know when we are being poisoned. We won't know how many additional people get cancer or lose a hand in an industrial accident. There is an article in today's paper about Trump doing away with regulations on transmissible diseases in nursing homes. We don't need much perspective to see the folly of that; and the coming deaths. But to give it perspective, it will fatten the profits of nursing home owners and funeral directors. I truly hope that by Nov, this nation has put its perspective on Trump.

  145. @Kent Kraus Look at what happened in Wuhan and Italy: if you don't act early to deflate the speed of spread, the health system gets flooded with critical cases (about 6% of those with symptoms) and collapses. In Italy they are choosing whom to help, leaving some to die, so bad it has become, with only 24K cases (less than 0.05% of Italy's population).

  146. Apart from what he did not do recently, don't forget that his administration disbanded the pandemic group in the White House National Security section in 2018. Bolton was in charge at the time, and may have had direct responsibility. After discharging the staff, they were not replaced, and subsequent WH budgets did not fund the group again. Now, when large gatherings are being shut down around the nation, Trump has not acted to shut down his golf resorts. It was at an event at Mar-a-lago on March 7 that he was exposed to infected visitors. By comparison, Pennsylvania has closed down all golf courses, and both Aspen and Vail have closed down their ski resorts. Mar-a-lago has already been identified as a site where infections were present and could have spread. Trump could make a great impression if he were to announce that he was shutting down his properties.

  147. @Harold haha...Bolton. Seems like a million years ago that he was in the news. Didn't he write a book or something? Methinks he missed his moment. Maybe he can plug it as a way to kill time while social isolating.

  148. If the Cabinet won't harness the courage to invoke the 25th Amendment, they at least need to take the steps to work around Trump. They will need to use multiple media outlets and speak with one consistent voice. Because, honestly, if upwards of two-thirds of the American population becomes ill, and 1.7-2 million Americans die as a result of Covid-19, there will be Great Depression 2.0 and the US (and the world) will lie in ruins. We are running out of time.

  149. @Steve problem is, his cabinet is only his cabinet precisely because they will NOT do those things!

  150. @Steve trump, China, Iran, the countries where it was down played, hidden from the public. The republicans still believe their man is doing a heck of a job as well as almost half the population. Fox News owners need to shut this site down as they too are part of the problem.

  151. And after Trump's Friday announcement of (two big words) national emergency, the stock market went up, Trump took credit for it, as if that was what mattered most!

  152. one example of the kind of things that voters need to be continually reminded of....trump is so good at repeating simple messages. others need to do the same.

  153. According to the latest poll, many think trump has done an excellent job. We have a problem with conservative sites repeating trumps lies on a daily basis. Can’t something be done about the Fox News lies?

  154. @Sueinmn The elimination of the fairness doctrine in the Reagan administration enabled the "state TV" of Fox News.

  155. @Sueinmn : Tell your state's reps and sens that you want the FCC Fairness Doctrine re-instated. Ask everyone you know to do the same.

  156. At least two weeks ago, the US should have essentially been shut down for two weeks and then a reassessment. In the plague of 1603, King James ordered the shutting of houses and watchmen to enforce it. It saved some lives and during the shutting the theater was often closed and Shakespeare wrote King Lear. Two weeks is nothing.

  157. @Anonie In the Spanish Flu crisis 100 years ago, some cities in the US developed an aggressive policy of contention, saving many lives, while others just opted to let it follow course, with enormous cost. That lesson was so easy to learn from, but what to expect from leaders (the president here in Brazil is exactly the same) who see science as a menace to their ends? We need to develop an international coalition in favor of rationality, or we will all succumb to ignorance. This is looking more like the middle ages and the plague.

  158. @Anonie 2 weeks, and your typical waiter or other service worker is well on their way to being homeless when they can't afford their monthly rent.

  159. @Left coast geek That's right, unless the government steps in to prevent it by providing funding which allows service workers to do the right thing by all of us and stay home.

  160. Fistfights erupt over bottled water and toilet paper, schools are closed, Las Vegas casinos and hotels are closing, our courts are limiting appearances, national and state parks are closing, and we have a president who says "I'm not responsible." We need an adult in the room to step up and demonstrate leadership. That person will not be Donald Trump.

  161. @Lynn It will never be Donald Trump. His madness is complete.

  162. Thank you Mr. Leonhardt for doing this research. I'm printing it off and laminating it for a permanent reminder of who Trump is.

  163. @Ed Smith -- I just forwarded it to my wife with exactly those thoughts. this should never be forgotten. But who's going to raise the money to buy commercial air time on Fox so it can be read out loud to those who think this is a Chinese/Obama conspiracy?

  164. And Trump's negligence allowed and encouraged his prime supporters like Hannity and Sheriff Clarke to spread misinformation, thereby endangering people even more who were already under-informed.

  165. @Jane did you see devin nunes today recommending on national television that everyone should go out to bars and restaurants. It’s truly astounding how ignorant these people are.

  166. I'm surprised about the crowded arrival halls in airports. Even someone at a low level could improve on that. Just stretch the line out physically. That would not slow down the processing.

  167. @Zetelmo the end of the line would be out on the runway

  168. To avoid the mess at Customs ans Immigration, why not handle one plane at a time with other passengers waiting on board?

  169. "But he also seems to view it mostly as a public-relations emergency for himself rather than a public-health emergency for the country. " So well put. The chaos and crowding at the airports today just worsens the Trump corona virus time-line.

  170. Thank you for this superb chronology. I was struck by the report that, regarding the established guidelines for dealing with a pandemic, Trump is “breaking almost every rule in the book.” And isn't breaking every rule in the book precisely what Trump's supporters wanted when they voted for him?

  171. @Doug Hill Trump supporters, in their heart of hearts, believe in a benign universe, in which you don't pay for incompetence. Well, it isn't benign, and there will be a real price to pay for their political negligence; the loss of family and friends and the destruction of vast amounts of American wealth. An intelligent response could have prevented many of these losses.

  172. The Trump Administration just pressed the panic button. They can't effectively plan for anything. What we have at our airports is the opposite of what we should have. No effective advance preparation for a hurried influx of passengers due to no advance federal government notice of abrupt policy changes. Guaranteed increase in Americans (and other air passengers) exposed to the coronavirus for hours at a time while they wait commingled in line. You can't do worse than this if you tried, Medals all around.

  173. I really don't see why any of this is surprising to anyone with a functioning brain who has been following Trump's presidency. He isn't doing anything unusual or out of character at all so why would anyone think this situation would be different? He has been the same person his entire adult life, with only some probable age related deterioration in verbal communication evident if you compare his earlier public pronouncements with his current ones. You elected him, knowing what you were getting.

  174. @Robin most of us didn’t vote for him.

  175. @Robert M. Koretsky Well I guess this highlights the main flaw of the Electoral College then. Good luck with changing this; vested interests rule!

  176. Reading your article and many of the comments here I am amazed of how many back seat quarterbacks there are. I am sure without a doubt that had Trump had the foresight that it would get worse he most likely have done things differently. note: I am not a Trump fan, nor did I vote for him. I can also surely say that IF he had done everything that people say he should have, He would been called all those colorful words as the EU complained once he DID finally restrict flights from their. HE is and was in a lose/lose situation. I am glad you all know what is going to happen in the future cause I don't. Can anyone please give me the next winning lottery ticket numbers. thanks

  177. @Marc Did you read the part about Bush’s list of what to do in an emergency. He did the exact opposite. So no, it wasn’t a lose/lose. That implies every president in every crisis is in a lose/lose which is empirically and historically totally untrue.

  178. @Marc , No one knew exactly what would happen. And we are not blaming him for not knowing exactly what would happen. However, there are experts in this field. And they are pretty good about predicting what is probable and what is a reasonable possibility and what is very unlikely. It is not wrong to expect that a President would consult experts and share that information with the nation. Time and time again he made predictions that experts would not have made. I am a physician and did train in epidemiology. I was never a practicing epidemiologist. But I have listened to the President say things that were not true. And it was knowable at the time he was saying these things. It is not (Monday morning) quarterback behavior the commenters are engaged in, it is simply a wish that he lead with facts (that is, the truth). Certain actions, such as school closure and if or when to shut down flights are reasonably debatable. But many things he said are simply wrong and not reasonably debatable even at the time he said them. It is an important distinction. So I think that he is quite deserving of plenty of criticism here.

  179. @Marc Isn't he one of the people who have always doubted the value of vaccines, of science in general, etc? This is not a one isolated issue, it's a whole story developing from a very fringe world-view.

  180. Normally, finger pointing is a futile effort to cast shade on others. When lives are on the line, the equation changes. Trump is guilty. His hollowing out of our critical healthcare agencies by firings and defunding them is what hobbled our response to this Covid 19 viral pandemic. Whether we lose a million more souls, or many less than that, those deaths are Donald J. Trump’s responsibility. He didn’t care about the lives of others when he made those decisions, and he doesn’t care about them now. He can’t. Never has, never will.

  181. @The Scythe There’s more to pandemic preparedness than theCDC budget. There’s personnel, and other agencies involved. Are you willing to say that Trump did not hobble our capacity?

  182. @The Scythe The point is that Trump has tried to cut it sharply, but the Congress refused to do so.

  183. Kudos to Gov Cuomo for the constructive and public offer to deploy the Army Core of Engineers to assist in the Coronavirus Pandemic. Cuomo and Inslee are the 2 governors who have been fighting the leading edge of this epidemic largely alone at the state level. They have experienced the increasing case curve firsthand and understand the limitations of state resources and federal obstacles. We need Federal resources and a coherent plan NOW. And we need to invoke the 25th Amendment and remove Trump from office. His behavior at a time of grave crisis has already led to loss of American lives. We saw this coming. This is the price we all pay for the election of an unfit candidate.

  184. @JoanM The 25th! Invoke now!

  185. This list is a work-in-progress.

  186. This is a very well-grounded list, and well-formulated opinion. Leonhardt could go even further. He could bring in some of the events that precede the outbreak, such as the changes made at the CDC, as a way to show Trump's lack of comprehensive planning and lack of authoritative framing. He might also bring up the appalling echo of the "all under control" motif by Larry Kudlow. Trump not only has lousy ideas, but his administration follows them with no serious push back. Trump could be the poster boy for lack of due diligence: decision making without serious reflection.

  187. Why is it easier to get a Coronavirus test on a cruise ship in international waters than in the USA? Sad.

  188. Before the ascendency of Spectacular Society, the measure of great art was how faithfully it imitated life. Now, sixty years into the reign of Spectacular Society, the measure of great art is how well life can imitate it.

  189. It's still hitting me. Trump and his relatives and his hand-picked team can't even think two days ahead. Completely surprising airport crowds of returning Americans and other passengers that the airports don't have the men, equipment or federal guidance to handle? Whose department is that?

  190. @Ken. Not Trump’s fault. It’s the bloated, inefficient bureaucracy at work. You know, the same kind that runs your local DMV office.

  191. On point — bravo. Putting all politics aside (seriously), there's a growing sense of urgency to change the top leadership, for the simple health of the public, and continued functioning of our society.

  192. @Arthur Mullen Unless we lock up the republicans behind this evil for the last 40 years any change will be temporary.

  193. And you know what, he's still going to win the nomination and with it the election. Why? Unless this crisis lasts into November or another severe crisis occurs, the people who voted him in before will vote for him again. Some of them don't see the connection between their bad luck and his presidency.

  194. As a nation, over thirty years we've had a few close calls and some scares that didn't pan out. Every year for almost a decade, human Bird Flu was coming to kill us all, but didn't. So If he-who-shall-not-be-named was of the persuasion that this was another one of those false starts, who can blame him? The starting gun got fired too many times, and any runner would halt at the blocks if that happened.

  195. @Woody There was publicity and concern about the Bird Flu and others, but when it became evident that it wasn't spreading exponentially, the news about it stopped. This time is different and the scientists have been steadily warning us and the numbers have been there for those who would pay attention.

  196. @Woody Bird flu never "got us" because thankfully leadership in East Asia (Hong Kong, Singapore) and later Canada was smart enough to recognize the seriousness of the problem and take decisive action. Basically the complete opposite of what we have seen in the last 6 weeks in the US.

  197. "Every one of these doctors said, ‘How do you know so much about this?" Considering Trump's usual predictable patterns, I imagine that what actually happened here is that several of those doctors expressed dismay that Trump knew so little about it, prompting him to make that weird statement.

  198. Anthony, remember that trump’s uncle attended MIT? So by reason of heredity and his “perfect” genes, of course he knows more than any so-called expert. Who needs medical school when we’re blessed by the leadership of the very stable genius?

  199. The U.S. and South Korea confirmed their first cases of the coronavirus at roughly the same time. As everyone now knows, the Koreans reacted immediately. As a result, new cases have dropped below 100 per day and total deaths stand at 75. The Koreans, still on alert, continue to relentlessly track down every case. Meanwhile, as this column points out, Trump thought he could talk his way out of a major health crisis. Today, the number of U.S. confirmed cases is climbing rapidly with no end yet in sight and deaths are at 63 and rising. Americans are in a panic. Koreans are concerned but confident their public health officials are in charge. Trump is a complete failure. He is unfit for office in every way.

  200. @Robin Perhaps it is much easier to manage a small country surrounded by ocean than it is the United States, which has at least 10 cities with a population of a million or higher. In addition, state and local governments in the US are also at play. Trump does not and cannot micromanage everything.

  201. Thank you. It is important to have this accurately documented for all voters coming November. Most are aware of the incompetency of this fake President and his band of sycophants; however, the damage was never personally felt until now.

  202. Mr. Leonhardt Wrong diagnosis. Yes. Trump could have taken action when we knew about the looming crisis around late December, early January. He would have, if the democrats had not tied his hands down with their impeachment hoax. Now the democrats want him to spend big on infrastructure, etc. so they can blame him later for the huge deficit it will induce. Trump must not listen to the democrats and people like you. I am 100% confident in this president and sure that he will get us over this crisis. None of the democrats and their open border and sanctuary cities will solve this problem.

  203. @Bhaskar A President has to multi-task. And since he wasn't cooperating in any way with the impeachment process, he had plenty of time to do other things if he chose. He didn't.

  204. government is not a schtick. leadership is not a gimmick.

  205. I believe that under a President Hillary Clinton our current situation would not resemble what it does.

  206. You didn’t need to write this column. It’s been apparent since Trump was inaugurated that he is not qualified or able to lead this nation. The pandemic is the latest, most dramatic evidence of his incompetence.

  207. Seven weeks to act yet this administration it would seem did next to nothing to prepare. Good time, time that could have made a real difference, wasted. How many lives will pay for this malfeasance. Gross negligence by this administration. What more reason, though there are plenty, to toss them, and the Rs in the Senate. These people have zero interest in governing.

  208. This is exactly what needs to appear on pg. 1 for a very long time to remind everyone how the collapse of our government into a pitiful, ineffectual, endless stream of passing the buck and blame everyone but me occurred. This needs to be read out loud on air, each and every news show. People need to try and infiltrate f-x's wall of manipulative disinformation with this column. It needs to go very viral. People need to challenge every press conference of each and every enabling senator up for reelection who voted not to hear witnesses in the Senate farce that was a suitable Act 1 to the current American tragedy/black comedy. They need to ask how they can possibly support such an administration in light of such criminal imbecility. But will this really happen and would it actually matter? How detached from reality is the population? How indifferent and cynical are people who will only say with great conviction and resignation that they're on their own since no one is charge and it'll never get any better? Those with the power to fund the repackaging of trump's delusional incompetence into banal bromides that blame everyone else will never lose that power. That is what they pay their good money to insure. So, in the end, what will the approval ratings tell us over the next few weeks? Did he manage to dodge another pr disaster with flying colors?

  209. Donald Trump is incapable of providing leadership, least of all in a crisis. His only thoughts are for how he can assure his re-election, how he and his family can make more money, and how he can punish Democrats, critics, and adversaries of any kind. So his first instinct was to down-play the corona virus and avoid testing, like the ostrich burying his head in the sand. This has made the US lose valuable time, and plausibly increased the harm the virus can cause to Americans. Meanwhile, scientists and officials have to tip-toe around the ranting president to avoid setting off his rages. To compensate for his evident incapacity to understand public health issues and policy, he makes up fiction as to how he is supremely gifted by instinctive genius, simply because his uncle was a professor of physics at MIT. Should he be allowed to continue like this just because he is president?

  210. @Marc... I know you mean well and, no, I don’t have the winning lottery numbers for you... But c’mon... Reporting on the very recent, very public, and very inadequate response (and that’s being kind here) by this president and large swaths of his administration is hardly arm-chair quarterbacking. And this goes well beyond factchecking and multiple Pinocchios (Sorry, NYT) to something quite unprecedented. Truly, I am not Chicken Little and I believe we (meaning us) can still avert the worst just by using common sense (Hear me, all you faux Irishmen?). But if those figures quoted towards the end of the article end up close to being correct, then that’s pretty scary. Chances are we’ll get sick. We’ll all end up knowing someone who will have died from this virus. Wars generate that kind of mortality. Roughly 1 million US servicemen/women were casualties in WWII, with over 400,000 killed. This could (emphasis here) be far worse. It’s not arm-chair quarterbacking to call this out in real time, especially if action, however belated, can avert a catastrophe.

  211. Good column. What I've noticed is Trump's automaton-like delivery of speeches in situations where, as here, he needs to rise above his enormous ego and be presidential. Trump's narcissism, anti-intellectualism and lack of empathy are getting in the way of swift, unified and decisive action.

  212. Sadly no one in the Trump base will read let alone believe this column. They will see him as their strong leader who works to keep them safe. It will not matter how many people get sick and die or how many lose their jobs as businesses close. The information distortion machines like Fox news will simply shift from portraying the pandemic as a hoax to complaining how Trump is being unfairly criticized for working to keep this country safe from this foreign menace.

  213. Perfect photo of Donald accompanying this piece! Perfectly captures his rage and fear. Also, he looks creepy here, like he’s the villain in a Hitchcock film, which he might as well be, although his seething cruelty makes those villains seem like lambs.

  214. Despite the incompetence displayed, every American must take action NOW. This is a global and national pandemic. Wash your hands, Don't touch anyone, Stay at home and self-isolate if your job is not critical. We are past the point of control but we can possible mitigate some illness and death. Trump's rhetoric, inaction, poor planning and messaging may have killed thousands but it's too late now. Support your health care workers. This is a war against a virus and we are on the frontline. It is scary. We could die. Oh yeah... Vote

  215. Up to this point, to those who've proclaimed Trump our worst president ever I've always countered that George W. Bush, who lied us into war in Iraq and was directly responsible for the death of many hundreds of thousands, beat Trump by a country mile. But Trump's reprehensible folly and self-serving inaction in the face of a worldwide pandemic will soon overtake W.'s war crimes for the damage done.

  216. The Biden Campaign should send some money to Trump for gifting him these, ready-to-air, damaging ads.

  217. The sad history of these times will be written from articles like this. They are immensely important so that mankind may learn from history lest being bound to repeat it, as Einstein posited.

  218. Why the DNC is not running ads in deep-red states showing how the impeached WH occupant downplayed the grave threat to citizens' health only to benefit his reelection bid? What are they waiting for? When are we going to stop being timid?

  219. Trump has crossed the line from outright liar to becoming criminally negligent. His remark today that the virus is under control and everyone should relax was stunning and he will be directly responsible for the deaths of Americans who follow his advice and spread the virus to others. I work on close proximity to a co-worker who only gets his news from Fox. He refuses to practice social distancing in the workplace, calling the virus a hoax. I do not look forward to walking into the office tomorrow.

  220. @John Adams If you are able, this is a discussion to have with HR, certainly about setting hygiene/social distancing policy at work and about working from home if you have the kind of job that could be done remotely.

  221. Trump, has a credibility problem, he needs to get out of the way and let the Health experts take the lead on this. Furthermore Trump needs to stop talking about the Markets , we are in the midst of a world wide heath crisis , the Stock market is now secondary to keeping people healthy . Lastly Trump should just 'Stop It' quit talking about the great job he is doing , when in fact by all accounts people think he is doing a horrible job. It is very hard to watch these daily briefings when he comes out and spends 5 minutes either clearly lying, or blowing his own trumpet. We watch only to gain information and get updates we are do not ant to hear or see Trump pat himself on the back.

  222. Trump has done remarkably well -- at lying and doing so repeatedly and with gusto.

  223. Swine flue was first diagnosed in America April 15, 2009. By April 22 the CDC had activated an emergency response center. By April 30 the CDC was releasing 39 million masks and respirators which were stockpiled. They also were releasing 50 million courses of antiviral medicine they had purchased. A test for the flu was developed in 7 days. Tell me people how elections don’t matter.

  224. Most of us have figured out that if Trump’s lips are moving he’s lying. What he says today will be of no value tomorrow.

  225. Look it is best not to question the delusional, they tend to do things which are rash. I fear American is turning into an odd mix of Kentucky and Atlantic City, without the Bourbon and Boardwalk.

  226. When you believe criticism is based strictly on partisan thinking, this is what you get, full and utter denial. All those around Trump are still doing a delicate balancing act, trying to state the truth without harming his fragile ego. Even in the face of a global pandemic there are those willing to step aside and allow Trump to drive the narrative. Trump was right all along, he can not only shoot someone on Fifth Ave. and get away with it, he can take an entire nation down by wearing the right hat and touting low bank rates.

  227. Donald Trump's go to strategy is always deflection and distraction from him being accountable or responsible for anything that negatively impacts or reflects on him personally, economically and politically Trump is handling the COVID-19 aka coronavirus crisis the same way that he handled the hurricanes that devastated Puerto Rico and our fellow American citizens. Praising himself and requiring his Administration and acolytes to do likewise. Except that the coronavirus is an on-going biological evolutionary fit threat to humanity without regard to gender, color aka race. ethnicity, national origin, faith, education, economics and politics. Trump can't ' fake news' nor 'hoax' his way out of this looming viral catastrophe. Trump has no competence nor credibility with regard to science nor facts. And it is way too late for 73 year old Trump to make a better competent, character, serious second impression change.

  228. God bless David Leonhardt and God bless The New York Times. You are beacons of light in the extreme darkness that is the Trump administration. Thank you for all you do. Keep fighting the good fight!

  229. I can't believe this wasn't included in this piece. Fox News March 4: "Now, this is just my hunch, but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this and it is very mild... So if, you know, we have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, some of them go to work, but they get better and then, when you do have a death like you had in the state of Washington, like you had one in California, I believe you had one in New York, you know, all of a sudden it seems like 3 or 4 percent, which is a very high number, as opposed to a fraction of 1 percent."

  230. Setting aside Trump's well-known lack of empathy or awareness of others, his "response" to this crisis has been entirely shaped by his up-coming battle with Biden. In the meantime, I'm sure his "base" and the "Christian leaders" who endorse him are blaming the whole thing on the Democrats--or see it as an act of an angry God fed up with liberal Trump-haters.

  231. Trump is the modern day Nero. He does not have the capacity to feel others' pain nor to make the slightest admission that he dropped the ball on the Covid 19 crisis. We are facing two lethal threats: a pandemic and Trump.

  232. Is anyone else angry? I'm furious. And now there are reports that the Trump administration is offering enormous sums of money to a German medical company for exclusive access to a coronavirus vaccine. This is not just about policy differences. The GOP is a threat to humanity.

  233. Just as I held Reagan and HW Bush responsible for every unnecessary AIDS-related death in the 1980s, I will hold Trump responsible for every unnecessary COVID-19-related death in the 2020s four decades later. These men did not react to crisis. They created crisis. They looked away instead of confronting the reality of transmission and death head on. Silence=death. Fight back. Fight COVID-19.

  234. And at today's briefing Trump brags about interest rate cuts, the stock market and tells everyone to "just relax". That is his solution? He is the worst president ever. There just isn't much more to say anymore.

  235. Even if he happened to say the right thing, I wouldn’t listen and wouldn’t believe him anyway. After years of his lies and malevolence, I hit the mute button and look away every time I see him on the TV.

  236. As late as Friday, several teachers at my public high school were telling students that Corona was either a hoax, an anti-Trump plot, "not worse than the flu," or all three. Some also claimed Tom Hanks was faking Covid infection in order to distract from sexual assault accusations. I feel like I'm stuck in a Hans Fallada novel.

  237. @Helvius Those teachers should be outed, reported, and fired for malpractice