It has been dizzying to follow the gyrations and lurches in President Trump’s anti-virus program in the past week.
- At first, he did what he should do: urge continued vigilance, expand testing, quarantine, ban foreign tourists, and rush to fill orders for ventilators, masks, gowns and such.
- Then impatience got the better of him. Unable to bear the sight of his beautiful economy grinding to a halt, he prematurely spoke of re-opening shuttered businesses and returning to normal within a few weeks.
- When the public health community raised hell, he backed off and decided the right thing to do was to re-open the country by region, acting where the virus was lightest while keeping the hot spots closed. That led to fears of mass migration of infected New Yorkers flocking to the virgin countryside, bringing disease and contagion from the big city with them. At the very least, it would have meant throngs of truckers at each state line and cumbersome inspection and testing reminiscent of the pre-European Union customs backups at the frontiers.
- Then, he backed away when he saw Rhode Island sending troopers to go door-to-door Gestapo style to haul suspected New Yorkers to testing sites.
- He finished the chaotic week by floating the idea of a total quarantine of the New York area. Howls by the three governors made him drop that hot potato fast.
Calm down, Mr. President.
You were doing just fine at the start of the week with firm policies of warning the public, prescribing voluntary safety measures, cutting off foreigners from coming to America, and stimulating the economy by protecting people from the economic fallout. No need for the subsequent gyrations.
The public gets it that you are doing your best in a brand new situation for which there is no established playbook.
Your ratings are at an all-time high. Further flips and flops undermine your credibility and make it look like you are floundering, grasping at straws.
We are in for the toughest month of the crisis. The count of the sick, the hospitalized, and, unfortunately, the dead will rise each hour.
Keep the ventilators, hospital beds, and other stuff coming. Keep using the bully pulpit to explain how to stay safe. Push, push, push for cures and vaccines. Shorten all but safety testing.
But, above all, stay out of the way and let the doctors do their jobs.
When the smoke begins to clear in May and restrictions can be relaxed safely, the economy will come roaring back.
Not a U-shaped recovery or even a V-shaped one, but a check-mark shaped one — short sudden down and long, long up.
And, to ward off Phase 2, vaccines and cures.
You’ve got this one, sir.
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