The Platform

D. Myles Cullen

The Trump White House has routinely put its interests ahead of the American people.

It’s the beginning of May. In mid-March, most Americans expected to be back at work and sending their children to school by now, but we were all duped. Watching President Donald Trump’s nightly Coronavirus Task Force briefing was a daily get-a-way of dealing with the struggles of adjusting to life at home, but also a source of information from the federal government of what to expect tomorrow and next week and visualizing the end of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States.

Despite the factual commentary provided by Dr. Deborah Birx, the Coronavirus Task Force Coordinator, and Dr. Anthony Fauci, the Director of the National Institute Allergy and Infectious Diseases, President Trump acted as if he was the doctor on a nightly reality show. While millions of Americans tuned into these briefings, President Trump was responsible for shifting the coronavirus pandemic into a political battlefield.

Recently, President Trump and the task force halted the nightly briefings in the James Brady Press Room in the West Wing of the White House due to Trump’s lack of sufficient and verified information. From early on, when these briefings became a regular occurrence, Trump pushed for the use of hydroxychloroquine in severe cases of the coronavirus on March 21 and then later on April 17, calling it a “game-changer.” Days after Trump first mentioned the use of hydroxychloroquine for COVID-19 patients, a man in Phoenix, Arizona died after self-medicating with a form of the drug when he discovered that he tested positive for coronavirus, per CNN.

Then, last week President Trump suggested injecting detergent into your body if you have the virus. The goal of this recommendation was to clear your sinuses if you have symptoms of the coronavirus. This led to former Vice-President and 2020 election foe, Joe Biden, tweeting “I can’t believe I have to say this, but please don’t drink bleach.”

When the virus first appeared in the United States, President Trump spoke about how the virus will go away and magically disappear. This ideology drastically changed when President Trump and Vice-President Mike Pence introduced social distancing guidelines and discussed projections and what to expect in the upcoming months. This happened in mid-March.

Four weeks ago, President Trump and company became intrigued by a study conducted by the University of Washington and mentioned “there will be a lot of death” in the upcoming weeks. The study suggested that there could be up to 60,000 American deaths, with a maximum range of nearly 72,000 deaths. As of noon on May 4, there have been nearly 70,000 deaths reported nationwide. Often calling himself a “war-time president,” Trump altered that tally total this week by saying he hopes that the United States will not reach 100,000 deaths.

While claiming there is light at the end of the tunnel, Trump has claimed that his administration is doing a great job, in terms of trends, an increase in testing, and gathering of medical supplies. But, can this administration ‘weather the storm’ of diminishing the coronavirus outbreak, especially when the Senate cannot head back to Washington D.C. due to the lack of testing available for 100 politicians?

I doubt it because we haven’t seen the light, yet. While more than 30 million people have filed for unemployment benefits, Trump and his GOP governors claim they need to reopen the economy now and as soon as possible. Beaches in Florida, retail stores in Texas, and theaters in Georgia reopened this week, but if we want to have a booming third quarter of 2020, is this necessary?

Politico recently published an article about Trump’s exit strategy. Regarding lifting social distancing guidelines in select states, a former senior official at the Department of Health and Human Services said, “I don’t think they understand that…We’re going to be in containment mode for the next 12, 18, 24 months.”

Unfortunately, we will see life resume to normal when the coronavirus vaccine is proven to be effective and distributed in mass amounts to the public. Currently, there are 102 potential vaccines being developed worldwide and a handful in clinical and human trials, per CNN.

The “flatten the curve” movement has been productive in limiting the amounts of infected people, but the White House needs to understand that even the studies don’t know what to expect in the months of May and June. In one of the most unpredictable events in world history, no one knows what is next for the United States.

Health officials don’t know what to expect. Historians don’t know what to expect. And the federal government doesn’t know what to expect. At the end of the day, Americans should continue to follow social distancing guidelines because we do not know when we may be close to the finish line.

Benjamin Schiller is a graduating high school senior in Boca Raton, Florida. Benjamin plans to attend Syracuse University in the fall with a major in broadcast and digital journalism.