At a time when conscientious, well-informed leadership is needed, we’re facing the coronavirus outbreak with a floundering president. Donald Trump has not been one to seek or follow the advice of experts, or to reliably place the welfare of Americans before his own political or personal gain.

At a political rally, Trump described the coronavirus outbreak as a “new hoax” and insists the risk to Americans from the disease is low, and that we’re “totally prepared.” So how do we really stand?

The Trump administration dismantled the pandemic preparedness unit in the White House in 2018 and dramatically scaled back its efforts to fight global health threats. Trump also has systematically cut funding for public health programs during his tenure.

Late to act, the United States has tested far fewer people than other nations have. Effective testing kits and protective gear are in dangerously short supply. A vaccine is many months away from development.

Fourteen cruise passengers who tested positive for the virus were returned to the U.S. on the same plane as noninfected passengers. Health & Human Services employees were sent, without protective gear or adequate training, to receive Americans from China’s center of the outbreak.

A Washington state man, with no recent travel history or contact with people known to be infected, has died from the coronavirus. So how did he get infected?

Trump picked Vice President Mike Pence to lead the response to the coronavirus threat. Indiana experienced its worst outbreak of HIV in its history when Pence was governor. The outbreak grew as Pence initially refused to implement science-based strategies to fight HIV.

We need a president who thinks ahead; consults experts, including scientists; and who puts resources in programs that keep Americans well, not in tax cuts to the rich. This is not Trump.

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