Trump has brushed off all three — a Democratic-aligned independent from Maine, a Republican from Tennessee, an admiral he appointed. He calls testing “overrated” while asserting, nonsensically, that more tests merely inflate the number of coronavirus cases.
A pattern of downplaying threats
Better-suited for salesmanship than policy-making, Trump has minimized the battle from the start. He downplayed the coronavirus threat to avoid disturbing election-year economic growth.
Once he could no longer avoid it, the President followed rather than led — and stumbled.
In February, Congressional Republicans and Democrats alike spurned his request for emergency coronavirus spending as inadequate. They tripled it.
In March, Trump falsely asserted that any American could obtain a coronavirus test. That remains untrue even now.
On initial coronavirus relief legislation, House Speaker Nancy Pelosi negotiated with Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin without even talking to Trump. In recent days, as she and fellow Democrats prepared the new $3 trillion bill including state and local government aid, she acted as if the President didn’t matter at all.
Focusing on enemies rather than threats
On Twitter, Trump devotes less attention to the pandemic than to punching political enemies. At a White House press conference last week, he signaled how casually he takes his responsibilities on fighting the virus.
“Yeah, I did. I did. I required it. Yes,” the President replied. But he hasn’t been seen wearing a mask yet.
On a conference call the same day, Pence urged governors to test all residents of nursing homes – a locus of infections nationwide. A journalist asked Trump if he would require that.
“I will mandate it, if you’d like,” the President responded. He has not.