US President Donald Trump’s Thursday address to the nation to clear the air on the coronavirus outbreak backfired as it caused more confusion and doubts about his ability to understand and handle the biggest crisis his presidency has faced.
In his address Trump said “The virus will not have a chance against us. No nation is more prepared or more resilient than the United States,” Trump’s announcement to impose a 30-day ban on travel to the US by Europeans and restrictions on cargo, was immediately engulfed in confusion to keep the virus at bay is created confusion among the people and travel industry.
The President later clarified that he was stopping travel and not trans-Atlantic trade in goods, and his plan did not apply to Americans or US permanent residents, though such travelers would face mandatory quarantines.”The restriction stops people not goods,” Trump tweeted after his speech. But Trump did not explain why his ban did not include citizens of the UK — where the virus has also taken root.
The President tried to present a positive image of the economy, but is already feeling the impact of the virus as businesses and other daily symbols of American life are being forced to shut down. For example the President unveiled that to help workers who lack sick pay but have to self-isolate and are hard-hit by shutdowns, he called for a payroll tax cut which is not popular in Congress.
Trump caused further confusion when he said he had convinced health insurance providers to waive all copayments for COVID-19 treatments.
However White House later said that the President meant that the copayments would be waived for coronavirus tests, but would still apply to treatments for the disease.
Trump apparently announced the travel ban announcement without consulting with the travel industry or US allies and it caused massive disruption that will deepen the already cascading economic damage unleashed by the crisis.
The move will cause mass cancellation of trans-Atlantic flights, which could throw the aviation industry into turmoil and impact 15.7 million American jobs which depend on travel.
On a more fundamental level, the travel ban plan has raised basic questions about the President’s understanding of the crisis which he has minimised, blamed on Democrats and predicted will just go away soon on its own. But the problem is not that the coronavirus is coming to the US from Europe it has already taken root on US soil and is spreading, a case of closing the stable door after the horse has bolted.