On Jan. 22, President Donald Trump said “we have it totally under control.” On Jan. 31, he said he had contained the outbreak by restricting travel from China. As late as the end of February, he called it a “hoax.”

Recently, he was asked by a reporter for words of comfort for the nation. Instead, he berated the reporter.

It was after his election in 2016 that his team was briefed about the possibility of a pandemic, yet, two years ago, he dismantled the task force on pandemics set up by former President Barack Obama.

He invoked the Defense Production Act to compel manufacturers to make necessary items but refused to compel them to do so. Instead of the federal government acting as a single buying agent or price bidder, he has left it to individual states to fend for themselves and try to outbid each other, driving up costs.

When the crisis started, his lack of action delayed testing and other actions that may have slowed the spread. At one time, this nation would have taken the lead in bringing the world together on a problem such as this. It took until mid-March for Trump to acknowledge the gravity of the situation.

He makes rash statements, without factual basis, about when a vaccine will be available and about treatments. His comments have to be corrected by the medical community. Now, he seems willing to sacrifice lives to reopen the economy too early.

This nation deserves a leader who displays better leadership and empathy.

Stan Tetenman, Poland

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