Historian John M. Barry spoke to The Washington Post for an interview released on Tuesday and provided a critique of Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic, which he called “incomprehensibly incoherent.”
“The first few months it was hugely disappointing to see him trivialize this outbreak,” Barry said.
Barry noted that Trump ultimately acknowledged the severity of the virus and declared war on it. But after this acknowledgment, Barry said Trump’s response has been “up and down.”
“The positive is, he does seem to take it seriously. He still is telling people to keep apart, and that’s important. But obviously he gives out inaccurate information on a daily basis.”
From here, Barry touched on the pandemic preparedness planning he conducted with the George W. Bush administration — which attempted to develop a pandemic response system in 2005 — and the importance of having a spokesperson to communicate effectively with the public. This communication, Barry says, is crucial to get the American people on board with social distancing and other recommendations from public health experts.
“And we were unanimous that it should not be any politician, not the president, not secretary of HHS, not even CDC,” he said.
According to Barry, any given politician would enter the spokesperson role with a significant portion of the public distrusting them, which could hinder the pandemic response.
Barry did not mince his words when pressed on the “overarching theme” of the 2020 pandemic from a historical perspective.
“If they’re writing about the United States, it would be the incomprehensibly incoherent response,” he said before noting that there have been varying degrees of success across the countries around the world.
It’s not the first time Trump’s coronavirus response has been criticized for its incoherence. As reported by The Seattle Times, the medical journal The Lancet criticized the Trump administration’s pandemic response as “inconsistent and incoherent” and called for Trump’s replacement. The journal urged Americans to vote Trump out of office in November and elect a politician who understands the importance of keeping public health separate from partisan politics.
As The Inquisitr reported, Trump dismantled the pandemic response infrastructure that former President Barack Obama put into place. According to science writer Laurie Garrett, Obama’s program was created using the experience he gained from dealing with Ebola in 2014. During this time, she claims Obama realized that an effective pandemic response must effectively coordinate all aspects of government with private sectors, and one person must guide this network.