What Could Trump Have Done Better? (Covid)

Curious what people believe could have been improved in the Trump administration's response to Covid-19. I recognize that this vaccination distribution has been an absolute sh*tshow, but what about the 9 months prior to its approval? I hear plenty of people talk about how Trump 'botched' the US' response to the virus, and yet, other countries with seemingly competent leadership are also struggling.

Do you think that a different president really would have done much better? (Have no personal opinion on the matter, just looking to be better informed)

Comments (15)

  • Incoming Analyst in IB - Ind
Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

Feel like it fits pretty well in the off-topic forum ¯\_(ツ)_/¯ 

Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

I actually think he did quite well. Operation Warp Speed was an incredible endeavor and because of it, we now have multiple vaccines in record time (by a long shot - like yrs). Makes you wonder why the FDA can't operate this way all the time...  

The initial task force was very good and handled a ton of stuff behind the scenes like working with all the governors, getting out ventilators and PPE.

I think the biggest shortcoming was his messaging. Instead of just being straight with us and telling us what's going on, it was a constant "we're the best, we're making ventilators in record time, we're shipping them to other countries, etc." He was so bombastic about everything even while his team was doing great work. Things like having the military set up a fully functional field hospital in NYC in two days is amazing. Wasn't needed but still amazing. 


The whole PPE shortage and testing shortage is a hot topic. Gets a lot of blame. However, it's not his fault that there literally was no supplies available anywhere. The federal government doesn't manufacture swabs and viles and solution. They had to uncover every rock to get what was available. The other major messaging mistake (and this was an unforced error that happened every day for months ) was not wearing a mask and telling people how important it was. His followers would have done it had he just led by that example. That alone would have saved  many many many from getting the infection (and perhaps some from dying).


In summary , I think his brashness is really what has caused so many to ignore the positives and focus on the optics (like when he would say "I'll be sending ventilators to Governor X because he likes me..." )

Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

I think a big criticism was the whole mask thing. Even after the scientific consensus agreed that masks are needed to stop the spread of COVID he still refused to wear one making himself appear to be a hero of sorts (and that landed him in hospital...with COVID). Many of the protesters or Karens of the pandemic would likely have worn masks and limited the spread had he told them to.

Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

Operation Warp Speed is overrated and would likely have happened under any administration, but I think the government needs to take more credit for their successes which is something Democrats don't do often enough as U.S. citizens don't seem appreciative or aware of government when it works. If anything I think Trump's constant focus on the vaccine, touting it before it's even cleared the various trials or published any data, hurt public confidence in it. The trials weren't even run in the U.S., but rather in EM countries like Brazil. Also, Pfizer and Modern vaccines were designed in hours/days, so there was very little R&D for this vaccine. Pfizer/BioNTech didn't even accept Warp Speed funds cause they didn't want to get into IP sharing negotiations with the government; they did accept pre-orders but all countries pre-ordered so it's not like the U.S. was unique in this respect. The UK was also the first to the line to approve, not the FDA. Moderna and AstraZeneca did accept some funds but there's no indication they wouldn't have proceeded without the Warp Speed funding. 


I would classify PPE shortage and testing shortage as a bungling on the part of the federal government, which is run by Trump. It shouldn't have been left up to each state to bid against each other for PPE, governors calling up Asian manufacturers to secure PPE...central coordination from the federal government might've lowered the price and certainly helped with testing. Everyone has a smart phone. Why can't I just book an appointment for a test, show up with a QR code on my phone, they scan the code and scan the kit and now they know it's tied to me? Testing is an uncoordinated mess and in many places can take hours for a drive-thru. Lastly, on PPE/medical sourcing, I believe Jared Kushner was in charge of the White House task force...JK should not be anywhere near the top of the leaderboard for anything.

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Most Helpful
Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

I think his biggest mistake was turning COVID into a culture war. Biggest reason for that, IMO, was because it's an election year and any restrictions (lockdowns, social distancing, business closures, etc.) would slow down the economy, which is usually a death knell for winning an election campaign. Instead of getting out of the way of his medical advisors as most other world leaders did, he turned it into a culture war which has now led to a lot of his rabid base thinking COVID is a hoax, vaccines are being distributed by Bill Gates to track where you are, and no social distancing restrictions or masks are needed. I can't think of another country (except maybe Brazil) where there's such a large rift between the top political leader and his top doctor/pandemic response team. Fauci was effectively sidelined from press conferences because Trump wanted everything to "go back to normal" so that a slowed down economy wouldn't hurt his re-election chances. If Trump had just stayed quiet and said we should follow the guidelines as stipulated by medical experts and his pandemic response team, he probably would have been re-elected.

  • Analyst 2 in IB-M&A
Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

1. Don't pretend that it's fake at the outset because you're worried about the political fallout while privately acknowledging it's real. He could have started building a national stockpile of needed supplies after being warned in January

2. Don't tell your supporters not to wear masks in the name of freedom. This was absolutely brutal in terms of deaths that could have been prevented

3. Don't promote BS solutions like hydroxychloroquine to your supporters that cause real shortages for needed drugs, all the while attacking Fauci and science who are trying to promote real solutions

4. Don't attack governors who are trying to manage hospital capacity through shutdowns, inciting violence among your supporters (e.g. Whitmer kidnapping plot), while praising any governor that keeps everything open while suppressing actual COVID numbers (DeSantis)

5. Coordinate a federal response to purchase PPE and ventilators so that states don't have to bid against each other, driving prices up and creating further shortages for all states and forcing states to form regional alliances to purchase PPE in bulk


This dude tried his best to tell everyone it's fake and harmless, then basically hid in a bunker while dumping all responsibility onto the states so that he can avoid future criticism (while blaming the economic impact on governors). While there are definitely world leaders who were even more criminal in their response (e.g. Brazil), those guys don't come close to having the institutional checks and balances that the US does. 


Good quote below that summarizes how states viewed Trump's response on resource distribution (PPE/testing/ventilators), which can be summarized as chaos and incompetence:

"The confusion is indicative more broadly of how Trump and his administration have responded to a number of crises. The president often bounces from one issue to the next, reacting to the headlines of the day. Record turnover rates and competing power centers have hampered long-term planning. The result has been rotating strategies that are hard to fully chronicle.

In this instance, local and state officials of both parties say decisions seem less tied to partisan politics than they are to access to and praise of a president who has suggested he would help only local officials who were appreciative of the federal government's efforts."

  • Intern in PE - LBOs
Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

How do we all not have n95 masks by now? How was there not a vaccine distribution network in place when a government with unlimited capital had 9 months to prepare? Why did the US not secure the 100 million doses offered by Pfizer in the summer/fall? Why is Trump not wearing a mask and having events with hundreds of people? 

Pure negligence has gotten the United States into this problem and I can't believe people are still denying the virus. We should be listening to those that are smarter than us and be encouraging them to guide us through this pandemic. If Trump didn't deny Fauci's credibility and take him off the air, maybe we could have saved thousands of lives.

This was Trump's opportunity to unify this country and provide some true leadership in a time of need, however, he butchered this opportunity. 

Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

I don't care enough covid. But his messaging sucked. Just pretend to care about it on TV, and show fake compassion.  It should have been a slam dunk come together to support him moment (like cuomo).  Never met a pandemic go to waste.  Whatever, he made some stupid decisions this year. He could have easily won reelection.

Jan 12, 2021 - 10:47pm

You know what's fucking sad? The fucking tiny country of South Korea is providing better medical and COVID supplies for US soldiers that fought in the Korean War, than our own fucking government. That's embarrassing that we can't even take care of our own veterans.

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