Two presidents, two messages, a killer virus

President Donald Trump when he signs the implementation order for the Warp Speed ​​Vaccine Operation Warp Speed ​​Vackine Summit at the White House in Washington on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.
President Donald Trump when he signs the implementation order for the Warp Speed ​​Vaccine Operation Warp Speed ​​Vackine Summit at the White House in Washington on Tuesday, December 8, 2020.

WASHINGTON – One of the presidents only declared victory over the epidemic, welcoming the new vaccines as a “medical miracle” and congratulating himself on what “no one has ever seen”. The next president declared the pandemic more deadly than ever before, calling it a “mass accident” that leaves a “gaping hole” in America and more misery awaits it.

“We are here to discuss a monumental national achievement,” President Donald Trump boasted on a screen. “From the moment the coronavirus invaded our shores, we took action.”

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“We’re in a very dark winter,” President-elect Joe Biden said a minute later in his own speech on another screen. “Things can get worse before they get better.”

It was rare for a single hour in a single day to receive such critical messages from Washington during a national crisis. In the midst of a transition to power that has proved more troubling for more than a century, the outgoing and incoming presidents on Tuesday offered the American people vastly different assessments of the state of their union.

The split-screen speeches came from the White House and the headquarters of the next administration, Wilmington, Delaware, could hardly have emphasized more strictly the differences between the 45th and 46th presidents. Trump said he told you triumph when he boasted of developing “incredible”, “amazing” and “unprecedented” vaccines against the coronavirus. Biden anticipated the feeling of pain, called on opponents to wear masks, and warned that “this mess” would not end quickly.

At Trump’s event, dozens of officials and guests stormed the auditorium, most of them wearing masks, which is a change for this White House. But socially they were still not far away. The president himself, who was hospitalized with COVID-19 in October, wore no mask as 15 members of his team gathered behind him to sign an implementing ordinance aimed at prioritizing vaccinating Americans over people of other nations.

At Biden’s event, where he officially announced his leading health candidates and advisers, only a few people were present, masked and sitting far apart. Some of those whose appointments were announced shone from a distance in their comments. Shortly before the incident, the Biden team regularly announced that the president-elect had again tested the virus negatively.

The contrast comes at a dangerous moment for the United States, as coronavirus cases continue to rise to new heights, hospitals are flooded with patients, and the number of deaths caused by the virus is high. New vaccines developed in Trump class can be approved within days. But only health care workers and the most vulnerable Americans will be vaccinated in the short term, and most Americans will likely only have access to life-saving footage in the spring.

The American tradition of having one president at a time in the 10 weeks between the election and the inauguration days has fallen, as Biden wants to assert moral leadership even without the means of power. Forever, Trump is spreading a desperate effort to conspire to steal elections and overthrow the will of the people.

Since the November 3 election, more than 53,000 people have died from the coronavirus in the United States, and at the current rate, 97,000 could die by January 20, when Biden takes power – the equivalent of pretty much every man, woman and child. , Albany, New York, or Dearborn, Michigan, or Erie, Pennsylvania.

But Trump, who has repeatedly claimed during the campaign that the epidemic is “around the corner,” has hardly been interested in talking about it ever since. Nor have Americans been advised on how to defend themselves beyond trumpeting new vaccines.

“People who aren’t necessarily big fans of Donald Trump say whether he likes it or not, it’s one of the biggest wonders in the history of modern medicine or any other medicine, in any other age of medicine,” Trump said. Tuesday’s “Warp Speed ​​Vaccine Summit” operation.

The White House intended to demand credit and refute its criticisms, playing a videotape with clips from experts and doctors, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, a member of Trump’s own coronavirus task force, and cautioning against rapid action against vaccination. The tape did not take note that many experts had warned that no vaccine would be widely available until next spring, this is the current timetable, nor did it show that Trump had already promised in March that a vaccine would be available almost immediately, which was not.

However, Trump was right that with the administration performing the Warp Speed ​​operation, the vaccine was developed faster than what had previously been produced in the medical history. It is a major breakthrough that should change the course of the epidemic, even if not as quickly as the President had previously claimed.

“No one thought it was possible remotely to do what we did in less than nine months,” Trump said. “And we took a lot of warmth when we said that’s our goal.”

Now he said, “We just want to get back to normal, back to where we were a little over nine months ago, when we worked incredibly and in many ways we still perform incredibly with our stock markets and everything else that hits every new peak. “

The new highlights he didn’t want to talk about were cases of the coronavirus. When a reporter asked about the message sent to Americans when they were waiting for vaccines to be available, Trump brushed this out, noting that protocols developed by public health experts were “very important guidelines” before turning back to vaccines quickly. “The vaccine was our goal,” he said. “It was number one because that’s how it ended.”

He similarly rejected concerns about Christmas parties, which he had staged in the White House in recent days, in a much larger weight than required by public health directives. “Well, they’re Christmas parties, and frankly, as you know, we’ve significantly reduced the number,” he said. “And I see a lot of people at parties wearing masks.”

From his own stage in Wilmington, Biden presented the situation quite differently, painting a grim picture of grief and suffering. He noted that last week, the coronavirus was the number one cause of death in the United States, and that black, Hispanic, and Native American people died at a much higher rate in proportion.

Unlike Trump, who made no mention of the victims of the epidemic, Biden spoke directly to them. “For families and friends left behind, there is a gaping hole in your heart that will never fully heal,” he said. “As a country, we have been living with this epidemic for so long, there is a danger that we will be numb for all of us. You know, we gave up because we feel we can do nothing, we can’t trust each other, we have to accept death, pain and sorrow.

Biden said he would “credit everyone” for vaccine development without mentioning Trump, but said “vaccine development is just a Herculean task. He also expressed concern that, under the Trump administration plan, vaccinations would be stalled after the initial doses were given unless Congress approved more money.

However, waiting for the shot is not enough, he said. He vowed to require him to wear masks on federal property as well as on interstate planes, trains and buses, while encouraging other Americans to cover their faces for at least the first 100 days of his presidency to break the back of the epidemic.

“We need your help,” he said. “Only wear a mask for 100 days. This is the easiest way to reduce COVID cases, hospital care, and deaths. Help yourself, your family and your community. Whatever your policy or point of view, mask it for 100 days after we take office, for 100 days to change. This is not a political statement. This is a patriotic act.

But when he faces taking over a disease-stricken country, he wanted to revive his gloomy message with hope, promising to steer the difficulties into a commitment to action. “From our collective pain,” he said, “we will find a collective goal, control the pandemic, save lives, and heal as a nation.

This article was originally published in The New York Times.

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