“It’s hard to believe, but just a month ago Donald Trump and his henchmen were dismissing the coronavirus as a nonevent. On Feb. 26 Trump declared that “You have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be close to zero.” His remark came a day after Larry Kudlow, his administration’s chief economist, declared that the virus was almost completely contained, and that the economy was “holding up nicely.”
There are now more than 82,000 cases in the U.S. — we don’t know how many more, because we’re still lagging far behind on testing. But that makes us the world’s coronavirus epicenter, and the U.S. trajectory is worse than that of any other country.
As for the economy: Last week more than three million workers filed for unemployment insurance, a number that is completely off the scale even as many others who are suddenly out of work aren’t eligible for unemployment benefits. We’re clearly losing jobs even faster than at the worst moments of the 2008-9 financial crisis, when we were losing “only” 800,000 per month.
Trump’s dismissal and denial played a large role in getting us to this point. And he should be held accountable. But the crucial question now is whether we’re doing enough to cope with the catastrophe.”