Joe Biden is set to be the next president of the U.S., but experts say his victory came too late to prevent a COVID-19 surge over the upcoming winter months. President Trump’s tenure in office will continue until Jan. 20, but his focus on the election has experts concerned about how he will respond to the pandemic. From now until Inauguration Day, what is Trump’s COVID-19 plan?
The U.S. response to the pandemic has been widely criticized as one of the worst in the world. The nation has repeatedly broken records for the most daily coronavirus cases, and its death toll currently stands above 238,000. The fall and winter have long been expected to make the pandemic worse, as people flee indoors from the cold, families gather for the holidays, and the coronavirus combines with typical seasonal illnesses like the flu.
The president has spent months downplaying the virus, however, even claiming credit for ending it in a recent list of administrative accomplishments. This approach is not expected to change anytime soon, and that’s heightened concerns over how the pandemic will be approached in the coming months. Previously, Trump was forced to consider politics as he vied for a second presidential term. With his chance for re-election gone, Trump can now approach the pandemic response however he sees fit. A lax response can no longer cost him the election.
Trump has previously floated a number of controversial strategies for defeating the coronavirus, including a “herd immunity” strategy—which Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has called “unacceptable.” The Trump administration also appears to be relying heavily on hopes for a vaccine, an approach which experts have likewise warned against.
“The strategy, if you can summarize in one word, is hope,” Dr. Carlos del Rio, executive associate dean of the Emory School of Medicine and Grady Health System in Georgia, told the Guardian. “And hope is not a strategy.”
Over the last several months, Trump has been accused of attempting to downplay the virus, instead emphasizing the need to restart the economy. This, combined with broad public fatigue over lockdown measures and social distancing, has led to a downward trend in caution.
But with cases already surging—a trend that is only expected to worsen—the need to carefully follow the CDC’s pandemic guidelines is more pressing than ever, because, at this point, the Trump administration doesn’t seem poised to advance any new coronavirus plans for the rest of 2020.