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Who Is to Blame for the Coronavirus?

Is it China, the president or someone else?

by Eric Holdeman / November 1, 2020

I keep hearing people in the news saying "I don't blame President Trump for the coronavirus pandemic," which any thinking person should agree with. The President blames China for not containing the virus at its inception, but given the transmission rates and how the virus spread throughout the world, even before we knew how widespread it was, it seems like a sign that likely no country could have contained the virus. 

The ban on travel to the United States is hailed by some as a key move taken by the administration. I've heard that there were 40,000 people who returned to the United States from China after the ban was implemented. Then, since tens of thousands of people travel to and from China, this means the virus was already widespread, but undetected in Europe, which is believed to have been a key source of infections that ended up in New York City. 

I have never heard of a president or any other elected official being blamed for a disaster. The president doesn't cause an earthquake, hurricane, or tornado. The blame for these events comes not from the cause. But the blame can come for the response. You only have to ask President George W. Bush about Hurricane Katrina. He was not blamed for anything to do with the wind, flooding and someone losing the roof on their home. The blame came to roost over the response of the federal government to the impacts of the disaster on people and the slow action to remedy the plight of people who were not able to evacuate from New Orleans.  

Hurricane Andrew in 1992 was another black eye for another president, that being Bill Clinton, over the federal response to the disaster. It was that one that got the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) under James Lee Witt to become much more attentive to natural disasters and the federal response.

To summarize, it is not the cause of a disaster that should be placed on an administration. It is the response to the disaster that must be assessed and, when appropriate, blame placed at the feet of those holding the positions of responsibility. It is the sitting administration that is responsible for orchestrating the application of resources, people, material, supplies and the approach to include priorities that determine the strategy and tactics that are being taken. Has the response been successful in limiting the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic, or is it out of control. If it is out of control, then if you are looking to place blame — look at the effectiveness of the response and make your judgements.

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