TIME

Opportunity Cost

THROUGHOUT DONALD TRUMP’S PRESIDENCY, an ominous question has hung in the air: How would he handle a truly serious crisis? Now we know. The novel coronavirus pandemic has infected more than 200,000 people around the world to date and is spreading rapidly in the U.S. Experts project that COVID-19, the respiratory disease that coronavirus causes, could afflict millions worldwide and kill hundreds of thousands of Americans. Faced with the most dangerous threat to American life since at least the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks, the 45th President made matters worse.

A few weeks after the outbreak began in China’s Hubei province in December, U.S. health officials warned Trump of the seriousness of the threat. But in his first public comments about the virus, on Jan. 22, Trump told the public he wasn’t worried. “Not at all,” he said. “We have it totally under control.” Throughout February, Trump dismissed Democrats’ alarm about the virus as their new “hoax,” blamed “the Democrat policy of open borders” for the pathogen’s spread and insisted that his Jan. 31 decision to restrict travel from China had contained the outbreak. By Feb. 29, officials reported the first coronavirus-related death of an American on U.S. soil.

As epidemiologists and infectious-disease experts begged Americans to self-quarantine and cancel social events, many of the President’s

You're reading a preview, sign up to read more.

More from TIME

TIME12 min read
The Giving Spree
IMAGINE FOR A MOMENT BEING OBSCENELY, outrageously rich. I know you’ve done it before. You probably have a list of priorities: college for the kids, new car, paid-off debts. Forget that list. That list is puny. You’re so rich that you can do everythi
TIME3 min readPsychology
The More We Change, The More We Stay The Same
THE PANDEMIC HAS, TO understate it dramatically, changed a lot of lives. A childless white collar worker who spent a year at home obviously had a different pandemic experience than a doctor working ICU shifts, or a grocery clerk desperate for adequat
TIME13 min readBiology
The Sequencing Solution
YOU DON’T WANT TO BE A VIRUS IN DR. DAVID HO’S lab. Pretty much every day since the COVID-19 pandemic began, Ho and his team have done nothing but find ways to stress SARS-CoV-2, the virus that causes the disease. His goal: pressure the virus relentl