As I write this (on Thursday, March 12th at 10:19 AM) the number of people around the world who’ve been diagnosed with coronavirus stands at 129,590.
That’s certain to change by the time I finish writing this.
One thing is for sure, the United States of America hasn’t been prepared for what’s to come.
Our president had been convinced that Americans were safe.
No matter how much President Trump has downplayed the growing threat by this mysterious malady, each day it grows wildly.
“We have thousands or hundreds of thousands of people that get better, just by, you know, sitting around and even going to work, but they get better,” he said on Fox News on March 4th.
That was complete nonsense.
People aren’t “sitting around and even going to work” when they’ve been infected.
Some are facing death if they don’t get treated properly – or, sadly in some cases, even if they are treated properly.
Dr. Trump, though, has offered his faulty analysis that coronavirus could be compared to the flu.
He did that until last Tuesday when there was a torrent of bad news.
The World Health Organization officially declared we’re in a global pandemic; hundreds of colleges announced they were canceling in-person classes; the actor, Tom Hanks, and his wife, actress Rita Wilson announced they had both been diagnosed with coronavirus in Australia; the NBA suspended the rest of its season after one player was diagnosed with the disease; the NCAA announced that all of March Madness would be played in empty arenas – but for essential staff and family members (it may as well be called “March Mildness”); the U.S. financial markets fell into the first Bear market in 11 years.
All of this may have helped convince Trump to give a rare Oval Office address.
All 11 minutes of it.
It wasn’t a tour de force.
It was a confusing jumble of stilted Trump-speak, in which he threw in another one of his patented travel bans.
He delivered it with all of the conviction of a 10-year-old confessing that he’d skipped school all week.
The country wanted to know how he was going to save us.
It’s clear, he really doesn’t know how.
That’s probably why, as he spoke, the Dow futures (a clear indicator of the direction of the next day’s Dow industrial averages) started to tank precipitously.
He did, though, manage to admit that this is now a global pandemic.
That even merited a mention the following morning on MSNBC.
John Meacham, a highly respected presidential historian, saluted Trump’s admission that something he’d recently compared to the flu, has now caused a pandemic.
But that salute came with a barb. “The fact that we are saluting a president for embracing reality, tells you where we’ve been the last three years,” Meacham said.
Here’s my interpretation of what Meacham meant.
Back in 2008, during the Democratic presidential primary season, Hillary Clinton had those campaign ads that said: “It’s 3 AM, and your kids are safe and asleep. There’s a phone in the White House, and something’s happening in the world….Who do you want answering the phone?”
Mr. Trump has failed that 3 AM test.
He’s failed it time-and-time again.
The nation will always look to its president for a sober assessment of the issues at hand.
Trump, though, has repeatedly been more concerned about how those issues reflect on his presidency.
He can’t be trusted with the unvarnished truth.
He’s too determined to pat himself on the back, and then to hurl political venom.
During that speech, he made sure to proclaim, “We must put aside politics.”
Nine hours later he was on Twitter, blasting Democratic Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi for not supporting his call for a payroll tax cut.
So much for putting politics aside.
When I started this (at 10:19 AM), there had been 129,590 cases of coronavirus worldwide.
It’s now 1:23 PM. There are now 132,995 cases. (3,405 new cases in just over two hours)
That’s how fast this thing is growing.
Edward A. Owens is a multi-Emmy Award winner, former reporter, and anchor for Entertainment Tonight and 20-year TV-news veteran. E-mail him at email@example.com.