Former national security adviser Susan Rice said President Donald Trump’s response to the coronavirus pandemic “has cost tens of thousands of American lives” in an interview with Washington Post opinion writer Jonathan Capehart.
“This administration was not interested in pandemics. It was not prepared for pandemics. We now know that even during the Trump administration there were lots of reports, lots of warnings,” said Rice, adding:
“Rather than moving immediately from very early January to do the things that we know we have to do, get in place the testing capacity, scale it up so that it’s widely available. Surge the purchase and the distribution of personal protective equipment, ventilators, masks, gloves, gowns, and get that to our hospital systems, build out a bed capacity, call back medical professionals. All these things that states and locals are now doing on the fly. These are the things that we know we needed to do and do at the outset. And so, they didn’t do that. They waited two months. It’s not the one month that the New York Times had a headline, ‘A Wasted Month,’ it was a wasted two months, Jonathan. And those two months have meant the difference between many tens of thousands of Americans dying who might otherwise not have died.”
“He has demonstrated utter lack of leadership, utter incompetence. And he’s been profoundly dishonest about the nature of the threat to the American people by downplaying it, by dismissing it, by comparing it to the flu. … He has misled the American people to such an extent that lives have been lost in the process,” she continued. “Whether that’s because he didn’t care or he was trying to downplay the problem and buoy his electoral prospects mistakenly, or whether it was to buck up the markets, or because he doesn’t care, I don’t know what it was. I just know that he has cost tens of thousands of American lives.”
Rice says she supports a nationwide stay-at-home order because “when you do these shutdowns early and comprehensively, it makes a difference. It saves lives and it flattens the curve.”
At least 9,621 Americans have died from the novel coronavirus since the first death was reported on February 29.
“This will be probably the toughest week, between this week and the next week. And there will be a lot of death, unfortunately,” said Trump during Saturday’s coronavirus press briefing, emphasizing that the economy should reopen once more.
“We cannot let this continue,” he said. “So at a certain point, some hard decisions are going to have to be made.”