Joseph Wyatt: Trump's 'hunches' can't replace reality (Opinion)

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President Donald Trump’s reassurances about the coronavirus have been as comforting as a scream in the night. Consider his cavalier suggestion on Feb. 10 that the virus was, in essence, no big deal. Next was his decision to override the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s experts and, thus, order people infected overseas to be brought back to the U.S. Once those folks arrived in America, it was revealed that medical staff treating them had been inadequately trained and supplied.

On Feb. 25, Trump told us, “We are very close to a vaccine,” while experts that day said it would take a year to 18 months. Then our calendar-challenged president advised us there were only 15 cases of the infection, when in truth there were more than 50. He added that within days there might be only a single case, or none, once the weather turned warm. The experts said he was wrong. All of which fairly shouted that the president was making it up as he went along.

By Feb. 28, the president tweeted, “The coronavirus is the [Democrats’] new hoax,” adding that Dems were “politicizing” the virus. On March 1, Trump again showed off his misunderstanding of irony by repeating, “Now the Democrats are politicizing the coronavirus.” By the next day, the “hoax” had been diagnosed in 106 Americans and caused six deaths. By March 8, more than 540 had tested positive and 22 were dead. A day later, the numbers had climbed to more than 700 having tested positive and 26 dead.

Meanwhile, Trump appointed Vice President Mike Pence to oversee the administration’s response to the growing crisis. It was 19 years ago, on March 2, 2001, that Pence claimed, “Despite the hysteria from the political classes and the media, smoking doesn’t kill.” Supply your own metaphor about foxes guarding hen houses here.

On March 5, two days after experts at the World Health Organization upgraded their data to warn us that 3.4% of those who are infected will die, Donald Trump called on his years of medical training and expertise to blurt out, “I think 3.4 percent is really a false number. This is my hunch, based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people.” Thus, the president’s “hunch” likens the mortality rate of coronavirus to that of the flu, which is 0.1%. So, there we are. The World Health Organization says the death rate is 34 times higher than Donald Trump’s hunch.

Evidently, the president’s hunch went to work early one day last month when he proposed slashing the U.S.’s contribution to the World Health Organization by 40%. In a like fashion, his cuts and proposed cuts to the CDC amounted to $61 million in 2018, another $96 million 2019, $114 million more in 2020 and $85 million on top of that projected for 2021. For good measure, he gutted the White House’s office of pandemic preparedness, most likely because it was Obama who had established it. And his lawyers right now are in court attempting to undo Obamacare.

Elsewhere in America, colleges are shutting down, big cities are canceling their St. Patrick’s Day parades, concerts are being canceled, businesses are telling workers to stay home, conferences are being called off and more. And our president said the virus, “is going to disappear.”

Meanwhile, instead of taking informed action, the president of the United States shoots barbs at Democrats and listens to the far distant murmurs of his “hunches.” Unfortunately, his delusions are no substitute for reality.

Joseph Wyatt is a Gazette-Mail

contributing columnist and emeritus professor at Marshall University.

Funerals for Wednesday, May 27, 2020

Adams, Mary - 1 p.m., Ohio Valley Memorial Gardens.

Bibbee, Naomi - 1:15 p.m., procession to leave O'Dell Funeral Home, Montgomery.

Bordenet, Effie - 2 p.m., Sunset Memorial Park, South Charleston.

Dorsey, Charles - 11 a.m., Ravenswood Cemetery, Ravenswood; also streaming live, see obituary.

Evans Jr., Frank - 1 p.m., St. Timothy Lutheran Church.

Fleck, Rosia - 2 p.m., Britton Cemetery, Charleston.

Fox, Helen - 2:15 p.m., Beech Grove Cemetery, Eleanor.

Hedrick, William - 1 p.m., Wallace Memorial Cemetery, Clintonville.

Johnson, Barry - Noon, Mt. Moriah Cemetery.

Mathes, Helen - 1 p.m., Morris Funeral Home, Cowen.

McClure, Karen - 11 a.m., East Lawn Cemetery, Canvas.

Mikeal, Chelsea - 1 p.m., Hafer Funeral Home, Elkview.

Parog, Drema - Noon, Mt. Tabor Church of God, St. Albans.