At times of crisis, Americans look to the president for leadership.

In the current COVID-19 crisis, Donald Trump has failed miserably.

For weeks, he and his enablers in the right-wing media minimized the danger.

He labeled the coronavirus a Democrat hoax and then characteristically blamed the Obama administration, which ended over three years ago.

In addition to this appalling politicization of the crisis, he has consistently subjected us to misinformation: The virus is contained; anyone who wants a test can get tested; we are very close to a vaccine; the flu is worse.

He even clearly implied that sick persons can continue to go to work, in blatant contradiction of expert advice.

Trump asserts that we are better prepared than any other nation but claims no knowledge that his administration disbanded the global pandemic team assembled by the Obama administration to deal with just such a crisis.

One of the strategies of this team involved working with other countries (like China) at the first signs of a potential epidemic to contain it.

Then there’s the relative paucity of diagnostic tests compared to other nations. His administration has consistently sought to cut the budget of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

A month ago, as the crisis was surging, his administration proposed cutting funding for the CDC and National Institutes of Health.

Trump’s infamous address to the nation March 11 was replete with errors that White House apologists and public health experts rushed to correct, and the stock market plummeted.

Recent statements suggest that Trump may finally be recognizing the severity of the crisis (and the threat to his reelection).

But this is too little too late.

He has failed the test of leadership and should self-quarantine in the basement of the White House, leaving the serious responsibility of crisis leadership to those with the necessary honesty and competence.

Robert Blake, M.D., is a retired physician and emeritus professor of family and community medicine at MU.

About opinions in the Missourian: The Missourian’s Opinion section is a public forum for the discussion of ideas. The views presented in this piece are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Missourian or the University of Missouri. If you would like to contribute to the Opinion page with a response or an original topic of your own, visit our submission form.

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