After President Donald Trump changed his tone on the severity of the coronavirus outbreak in the United States, warning of “a very tough two weeks” ahead, author and politics professor Daniel Drezner said that the president’s own inaction was partly to blame for what is to come.
“There were a number of different decision points in which Trump could have ... made this much better to deal with. And the fact is, he didn’t,” Drezner, a professor of international politics at the Fletcher School of Law and Diplomacy at Tufts University, told Jim Braude on WGBH News’ Greater Boston Wednesday.
“So, the U.S. is now the leading source of coronavirus infection and we’re in for, as he said, a brutal two weeks coming up,” he added.
Researchers from the University of Washington’s Institute of for Health Metrics and Evaluation predict more than 93,000 people will die from the virus nationwide by August 4. The same models, which have been cited by the White House, predict that during the peak of the outbreak, close to 100 people will die every day in Massachusetts.
Drezner said that a different president would have likely made a big difference in the expected surge.
“I’m incredibly angry that a competent president, whether it was a Bill Clinton, a Hillary Clinton or even maybe a Ted Cruz, would have probably handled this an order of magnitude better than Donald Trump,” he added.
Drezner also addressed a recent spike in President Trump’s approval ratings, which were up to 45.8 percent in a Gallup Poll released last week — his highest ratings since taking office.
“Presidents usually experience some sort of bump in terms of their approval rating, regardless of how they handle [a crisis],” Drezner said.
“The thing that stands out about Trump is that his bump has been surprisingly modest,” he added, referring to approval ratings in the 90s for President George W. Bush after the 9/11 attacks and ratings in the 70s for New York Governor Andrew Cuomo as he manages the coronavirus outbreak in his state now.
Drezner also weighed in on the state of misinformation and political polarization in the time of coronavirus, as some Republicans and Democrats disagree on the facts about the epidemic.
“I think there’s grounds for cautious optimism here,” he said. “People might be willing to disregard what the media says, or what Democrats have said, right up until the moment their neighbor, their daughter, or they themselves get sick.
“Simply, you can’t debate a virus.”