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Medical Experts, Not Government Officials, Should Control the Coronavirus Dialogue

Immediately following President Donald Trump’s Oval Office policy announcement to tackle COVID-19 Wednesday night, elected leaders and political pundits flooded the airwaves to provide insight on the President’s address and remedies to curb the novel virus from spreading. Rather than a substantive dialogue from professional medical experts, politically-influenced talking points spewed to American households on how the Trump administration is dealing with the crisis.

We are now in the midst of an authoritative void left by federal officials who are unable to provide concrete solutions to address COVID-19. With the absence of reliable national leadership responding to the coronavirus pandemic, America needs to rely on qualified medical professionals as an accurate source of information to control the Coronavirus dialogue and provide legislative guidance for government officials.

Over the past 70 days, the Trump administration downplayed COVID-19 in the United States, calling the outbreak a “foreign virus” and shifting attention to America’s economic strength. In occurrences where the Trump administration did provide recommendations, the proposals were muted, such as avoiding cruise ships and to wash hands frequently. Consequently, President Trump and public health officials were at odds with one another as Trump’s administration worked to soften the narrative of a likely market downturn.

With Senate Republicans blocking a vote on an emergency paid sick leave bill shortly before President’s Trump’s remarks (leaving many vulnerable low-income and minority communities at risk), it has become increasingly clear that those holding political power are unable to provide remedies to adequately contain the spread of COVID-19. Local and state officials are now left with unmitigated responsibility to curb spreading the disease. States of emergency are being declared in local municipalities and Gov. Andrew Cuomo is working with private laboratories since New York officials are unable to rely on the CDC and FDA to manage testing protocols.

While global knowledge of the disease continues to grow, critical information on the virus still remains unknown to the medical community. Only 3 percent of the 116th Congress are Physicians. Trump’s Administration has much less. Internal estimates from the CDC shows the number of cases will rapidly increase. Without considerable action by federal, state, and local government in the next 5-7 days, the virus will spread far beyond our capacity to control and the US healthcare system will fail.

Representation from qualified medical professionals specializing in infectious diseases reporting on COVID-19 is needed now more than ever. The medical community must take control of the coronavirus narrative to prevent misinformation dispelled by pundits and control misleading articles circulated online. Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, is a leading expert in infectious diseases and has offered detailed recommendations on how to prevent the spread of COVID-19. Dr. Fauci advises community members to take preemptive measures by limiting travel and avoiding crowded places, particularly in states that have high community spread. In these Government officials in these states must establish immediate community mitigation protocols such as social distancing, closing schools, and limiting travel.

Thoughtful and consistent messaging from the medical community is critical for government officials to take action. Americans and government officials need to pay close attention to what Dr. Fauci and other experts advise as they have dedicated their lives to study infectious diseases. These experts have lived and worked through multiple epidemics under several different presidential administrations. The next 48 hours will be critical for President Trump and federal officials. It is dire for them to surround themselves with medical experts, not Bank CEOs. Medical experts must act as America’s critical authoritative leader and shift the dialogue surrounding the virus.

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