The coronavirus pandemic continues to grip the United States, which has the highest number of recorded cases in the world — assuming China’s numbers are accurate, which Time suggested might not be the case. As Democratic and Republican politicians continue to point in opposite directions for blame, conservative commentator Ben Shapiro claimed that neither Donald Trump‘s administration nor prominent Democrats took COVID-19 seriously at the start of its spread.
“The Trump administration waited too long to treat covid-19 as a crisis,” he tweeted on Wednesday.
“So did everyone. If Trump had called for a two-week lockdown in late January rather than the travel ban (which Dems opposed), he would have been called a dictator by the same Dems now calling him derelict.”
Shapiro then pointed to “specific failures” he believes exacerbated the crisis, including the federal government’s alleged “years-long unwillingness” to increase ventilator capacity, as well as the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s testing failures and the Food and Drug Administration’s “thicket of regulations.”
“But generalized ‘Trump didn’t take this seriously enough!’ stuff is ignoring the timeline, wherein every major Democrat didn’t take it very seriously until early March either,” Shapiro concluded his Twitter thread.
In response, many social media users pointed to Democrats like presidential candidate Joe Biden, Senator Chris Murphy, and Senator Kamala Harris, all of whom raised the alarm on coronavirus in January or February.
We need to know the plan for ratcheting up the resources necessary to raise the line here. Otherwise, flattening the curve won't do anything but destroy the economy. The line right now isn't high enough to clear the flattened curve indefinitely, or in case of second wave. pic.twitter.com/ocdUre6ZAd
— Ben Shapiro (@benshapiro) March 20, 2020
During a Tuesday White House press briefing, Trump said he acknowledged the possibility of the coronavirus threat early on but wanted to stay positive for the country, Business Insider reported.
“I knew everything,” he said. “I knew it could be horrible, I knew it could be maybe good.”
As noted by Shapiro, Trump’s approach has received backlash from Democrats who believe that preventative measures could have been taken earlier. Meanwhile, Republicans have shifted blame to the Democratic-led impeachment probe, which was the focus of Congress for the months of December and January, when the coronavirus spread throughout China and surrounding countries.
Despite the backlash Trump has faced for allegedly downplaying the coronavirus, early reports on the virus were mixed. For example, in mid-January, the World Health Organization (WHO) said there was no evidence from Chinese authorities that coronavirus can be transmitted from human to human.
The WHO also recommended against Trump’s travel ban against China, which was echoed by many who were critical of the president’s coronavirus approach. Even former President Barack Obama‘s Ebola czar, Ron Klain, who was critical of the Trump administration’s overall response to the pandemic, said the ban was the right move.