As the COVID-19 pandemic persists, America is at odds in what could be the worst possible concept to debate in the midst of a global crisis: politics.
The growing tensions between President Donald Trump and Dr. Anthony Fauci have been more apparent as the weeks have gone on. This comes as Fauci became a vocal critic of Trump’s response to the outbreak, even going as far as to state, “The system is not really geared to what we need right now. … Let’s admit it: the system is not geared to what we need.” Contributing to this criticism, Fauci has disclosed on multiple occasions that Trump took a dismissive stance regarding the mitigation recommendations he had offered, saying that he had first issued warnings of a pandemic disaster as far back as 2017.
Trump has shown many signs that he has grown quite disgruntled with Fauci, despite public praise, The New York Times noted that the president’s patience with Fauci “has started to wear thin.” Some of this impatience was illuminated when both Trump and Fauci held a White House briefing regarding the high-stakes economic decision as to when would be the most appropriate time to reopen America.
While Fauci iterated that now is far from the time when America should grow lax on social distancing policies, Trump ultimately undercut Fauci, stating that he has the overarching authority as to when to reopen the country. What was made most apparent here is that Trump, despite advice from one of the nation’s top infectious disease experts, is choosing intransigence over effective collaboration with an expert in the midst of this health crisis. However, there is far more to the rising conflict than just a dissonant press conference.
Time has come to be weaponized in this growing battle between Fauci and Trump, as Fauci has made it quite apparent to the American public that he had warned the president well in advance of the start of the outbreak. Sources from Business Insider state that Dr. Fauci “warned members of the incoming Trump administration in January 2017 about the inevitability of a ‘surprise outbreak’ of a new disease.” Such comments are enough to yield justifiably inflammatory responses from the American public, because they convey two things: first, that Trump was given ample context regarding the pandemic that was to come and second, that even within such statements, Trump refused to act sooner and respond to mitigation recommendations offered by Fauci.
These two points, amplified by Trump’s faltering relationship with Fauci, convey to the American public that Trump cared more for squabbles along the party lines than he did about prioritizing the thousands of lives being lost in the pandemic. America is a nation where its people are to be valued above all else, including personal political agendas and party line disagreements. However, Trump’s lackluster response thus far in the wake of the COVID-19 outbreak has not been emblematic of this and has rather shown the opposite. This proves that Trump, when adequately briefed on such a tasking matter, failed to answer the call of duty regarding keeping Americans safe, and the loss of life the nation has endured epitomizes this best.
However, despite Trump retweeting a supporter who called for the firing of Fauci, the administration insists that there is no intention of firing him over his comments on Trump’s inadequate response to the coronavirus. In addition, Fauci claims that he had used a “poor choice of words” to classify Trump’s response to the outbreak. This seems like a sort of tranquility trying to be implemented before a storm arrives and tears apart everything in its wake. However, the storm has arrived, and America is being tested in an unprecedented fashion. Now is the moment when we as the American people see what our leaders value more: the valuable life of America and its people or the divisive party lines which hinder it so.
Noah Osborne, FCRH ’23, is a journalism major from Harlem, N.Y.