An Objective Comparison — Obama’s Handling Of H1N1 Flu, Ebola Virus Vs. Trump’s Handling Of Coronavirus
Would Obama Had Done It Differently?
With 123,781 cases of coronavirus and 2,229 deaths, the USA seems to be failing in its fight against the pandemic. In these testing times, we ponder… could Barack Obama have handled the coronavirus outbreak better than Donald Trump?
Highlights! A comparison of response to the public health crisis between President Donald Trump and his predecessor Barack Obama
- Expert Advice On Dealing with COVID-19
- Taking Swift Action
- Trust in health officials and medical experts
- Trump’s Attitude
- Trump’s Inefficiency
Former US President Barack Obama recently won a lot of praise and appreciation from his admirers. Obama posted some very useful advice and tips on how to deal with the coronavirus outbreak. Without criticizing the current President Donald Trump and his administration, Obama is positive in his approach. He endorses safety measures and shares stories of people and organizations that according to him are inspiring.
On Monday, he tweeted about an NYT article that perfectly summarizes the best thoughts among public health experts on how we need to approach the fight against coronavirus. He is also encouraging his supporters and fans to be big-hearted, generous and brave during these testing times.
While the tone of Obama’s tweets is positive, encouraging yet sensible, Donald Trump has been more defensive and accusing in his approach. This leads us to question could Obama have had handled the pandemic better as compared to Trump.
While the tone of Obama’s tweets is positive and encouraging, Donald Trump has been more defensive and accusing in his approach.
However, before we debate if Barack Obama is better equipped to handle a pandemic of this scale and magnitude than Donald Trump, let us examine some experts’ advice on how Presidents or heads of governments should respond when crisis strikes.
Expert Advice On Dealing with COVID-19
“The number one thing a president can do in a moment like this is to try and calm the nation,” says Julian Zelizer, a presidential historian at Princeton University, during an interview with Fortune.
In fact, experts suggest that whenever there have been cases of epidemics and pandemics, former Presidents have stepped aside and let doctors and public health experts taken the lead. This is not the case with Trump, who is adamant in becoming the public face of efforts against the coronavirus. The Fortune report adds that despite no medical training, the current president likes to have the rein in his hand. Trump leads a daily White House briefing on COVID-19 efforts by a task force Vice President Pence leads.
Let us now compare Barack Obama’s approach in fighting health crises like H1N1 flu and Ebola versus how Donald Trump is leading the fight against coronavirus.
Taking Swift Action
In 2014, Obama used the military – both the troops and medical personnel – in West Africa to contain Ebola. The mission also included measures to provide assistance as well as build treatment centers. Also in 2009, just a few months into taking the reins of the presidency, there were reports of H1N1 flu. Obama did not waste any time and assembled a team of experts. He ultimately declared both a public health emergency and a national emergency to deal with the threat.
Trump, on the other hand, has been slow. In first understanding the severity of the situation and then taking action. Bina Venkataraman, who was the chief policy advisor to the president’s Council of Advisors on Science and Technology, told WGBH station that in handling COVID-19, Trump has acted too slowly. “He is talking about this virus as a foreign invader. He is using a travel ban at this stage in the epidemic where we already have community spread in the US.”
Trust in Health Officials and Medical Experts
While tackling the H1N1 flu, Obama showed immense trust and faith in medical experts as well as health officials.Dr. Howard Markel, director of the University of Michigan’s Center for the History of Medicine, told Fortune that Obama was very hands-on during H1N1 — but not as visibly as Trump. “He took a step back because he allowed his experts to run the show,” he added.
Trump, on the other hand, is intent on being in the limelight. His crisis management method and lack of understanding of the severity of the situation has had an impact on the public’s trust on him.
Trump lacks empathy, a very important emotion that heads of the states require to connect with people. Trump also has a habit of blaming others for his or his administration’s shortcomings.
Rather than learning from his predecessors’ experience, Trump attacked former Vice President Joe Biden’s handling of the H1N1 (swine flu) pandemic in 2009, after Biden criticized Trump administration’s response to the coronavirus pandemic as “overly dismissive” and filled with “misjudgments.”
Media reports suggested that the Trump administration was provided with a 69-page guide on what to do and steps to prevent and slow down the spread of an emerging infectious disease threat. Still, Trump administration has failed to effectively come up with a plan that is successful in containing the spread of the virus and find a solution.
As per documents that are with Politico, the Trump administration was briefed about how it could face challenges like shortages of ventilators, anti-viral drugs and other medical essentials that are needed at the time of a pandemic. However, it seems some members who attended the briefing are either not part of the administration now or were not interested.
Media reports suggest Trump was provided with a 69-page guide on steps to prevent and slow down the spread of the coronavirus pandemic.
Whatever may be the reason, America has to pull up its socks now. It needs a fool-proof plan to fight the pandemic before it cripples the US as well as the global economy. As Venkataraman tells WGBH that it is time we think about collaborating with our allies. Thinking of ways to actually contain the spread of the virus across the world. We need to understand the nature of the virus, its mortality rate and how it evolves over time.
Edited by Chitresh Sehgal | Editor | DKODING Media Inc.
Disclaimer: The views and opinions expressed in this article are those of the authors after studying data and media reports. These are all assumptions and may or may not hold truth in the long run.