(April 2) If Joe Biden had been president this year rather than Donald Trump, the national response to the coronavirus would likely have been more effective, because it would have started sooner.

One can say this even if one is decidedly unenamored of Biden and willing to give Trump the benefit of certain doubts. The record is clear that, regarding this pandemic, Biden had his eye on the ball long before Trump finally told Americans we should take it seriously.

On Jan. 27, USA Today published a column by Biden saying that Trump should be doing far more to respond to the threat of a coronavirus pandemic. At a time when only 80 people had been confirmed dead of the virus even in China, and fewer than five people had been diagnosed with it in the United States, Biden identified it as a “global health challenge” that “will get worse before it gets better” and warned that “diseases do not stop at borders.”

Granted, Biden’s column was heavier on criticisms of Trump than it was on concrete proposals for battling the coronavirus, but the very fact that he recognized the severity of the danger so much earlier than Trump indicates he would have begun important countermeasures sooner.

It was four days after Biden’s column that Trump issued his order, one Trump now overhypes, that banned certain forms of travel from China. The evidence that this travel semiban made a big dent in the virus’s spread is quite slim and uncertain, while the president’s full month more of blithe unconcern arguably was tremendously harmful.

Five days before Biden’s column, Trump said, “We have it totally under control,” and three days before the column he was, ludicrously, praising Chinese dictator Xi Jinping’s handling of the virus. A month later, on Feb. 23, Trump repeated that “we have it very much under control in this country.” On Feb. 26, he said the number of U.S. cases “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.” As late as March 8, he said he would continue to hold public rallies while he was “not concerned at all” that the virus was coming closer to Washington, D.C….

[The full column is at this link.]


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