Forgive us if we sound a bit bitter. But when only a few dozen COVID-19 virus tests have been completed in Hamilton County in not quite three weeks since a coronavirus-stricken pastor administered three separate church communions before he had symptoms, what other emotion should residents here have? Rage, maybe? Bewilderment?
Certainly we're past confusion. And we're also beyond disbelief. One 15-minute session of listening to any cable or NPR news station, along with a walk through empty grocery store aisles where bread, Tylenol and bathroom tissue used to sit, put us well into this day's reality check.
But then there's President Donald Trump.
Nothing and no one can bring on disbelief faster.
For weeks Trump has shrugged off the virus, even calling it another Democratic hoax.
In January he said he wasn't worried about it: "No, not at all. We have it totally under control. It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control. It's going to be just fine." In February, speaking of America's first reported cases, he said it would be "just one or two people over the next short period of time." The very next day he said it would disappear. "One day — it's like a miracle — it will disappear."
On Monday, he said it would wash away this summer. "It could be right in that period of time where it, I say, wash — it washes through. Other people don't like that term. But where it washes through."
Then on Tuesday we got this quote from the stable genius: "This is a pandemic. I felt it was a pandemic long before it was called a pandemic."
So this is why we don't have enough virus tests? This is why there is not enough bread and bathroom tissue for one day's shopping? This is why we're increasingly sheltering in place in hopes of not further overwhelming the world's finest health care system? This is why our country, in the space of weeks, went from zero confirmed coronavirus cases to a figure closer to 20,000?
Did we mention that a dire new scientific report warns that 2.2 million people in the United States could die if we don't adopt even more stringent government actions like quarantined cities and still more shelter-in-place orders to slow the spread of coronavirus?
And Trump knew this all along?
At the risk of sounding like conspiracy theorist Alex Jones, what the heck was our president doing while singing songs of denial between golf games and twiddling his thumbs?
Watching Trump in news conferences in recent days — his new stand-ins for campaign pep rallies — even Vice President Mike Pence has lost that worshipful look for our president.
On Wednesday Trump — defending himself and his administration on a question about slow testing (though athletes and stars certainly found a way to the top of the testing lists) he said, "Look, we've inherited an obsolete system."
No, sir. On the contrary, he tried more than once to decapitate a system that beat the Ebola outbreak — only to be thwarted by Congress.
"There's a glaring hole in President Trump's budget proposal for 2019, global health researchers say. A U.S. program to help other countries beef up their ability to detect pathogens around the world will lose a significant portion of its funding. The ambitious program, called Global Health Security Agenda, was launched in early 2014, aiming to set up an early-warning system for infectious diseases across the world." That was the top of a National Public Radio program on Feb. 12, 2018.
"In Trump's proposal, funding for the program would drop by about two-thirds, from about $180 million each year to about $60 million each year. As a result, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention is planning to downsize its operations — or even close up shop — in 39 countries by September 2019. It will continue its work in 10 countries," NPR continued.
But Congress didn't allow it. Sounding a solid "no" more than once to Trump on his repeated and consistent proposals to slash health and science money for global health control ranks among the very few things our majority Republican Congress has done right. For instance, Trump's fiscal 2020 budget proposal would have reduced CDC funding by $750.6 million, compared with what was enacted for fiscal 2019. Instead, Congress passed, and Trump signed, a budget that increased CDC funding by $420 million.
Americans finally are beginning to see through the hollowness that is Trump.
He may give himself a "10" for his handling of the coronavirus that experts repeatedly warn will spiral further out of control without better leadership, but Americans now are trusting science, not our president's reality star acting.
We fear things will get worse before they get better as our country stumbles through COVID-19. But Americans won't be fooled by Donald Trump anymore.
And that's enough to help our country swallow this sickening bitter pill.