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Debate rages as Trump defeat hinges on COVID-19

Published:Friday | October 30, 2020 | 12:17 AMLester Hinds/Gleaner Writer
Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday, five days before the presidential election.
Donald Trump gestures during a campaign rally in Tampa, Florida, on Thursday, five days before the presidential election.

The results of next Tuesday’s presidential election may be a verdict on Donald Trump’s management of the coronavirus outbreak that hit a one-day record of 86,600 infections on Thursday among a world-leading nine million cases.

But despite rising contagion and a growing appetite for limited lockdowns, Ainsworth Powell, a former member of the Jamaican Constabulary Force, has praised the Trump administration for saving lives.

Powell, a Republican supporter, has excused Washington’s handling of the pandemic when the virus had just struck.

“The president moved to lock down travel from China to stop people coming into the United States who may have been affected. ... Had he not moved to put these measures in place, a lot more people would have died,” he said at a Gleaner Editors’ Forum on Thursday.

Powell, who is a nurse, asserted that though infections are rising at a record pace, mortality rates have fallen compared to the early months of managing the disease.

“Deaths (from COVID-19) are down although hospitalisation is up and less people are on ventilators,” said the ex-cop.

But Powell’s assertions were challenged by other forum panellists who lambasted Trump’s cavalier view of the virus, calling his administration negligent.

Dr Basil Wilson, political commentator and former professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice, accused Powell of “drinking the Kool-Aid” – a snarky reference to the cult-like approbation the president enjoys on the campaign trail, especially in Red states.

“Of all major industrialised countries, the United States has the highest number of deaths due to COVID-19,” said Wilson.

“The infection rate is higher in the United States than all other industrialised country.”

Wilson blamed Trump’s mishandling of the virus for putting more people into poverty and leading to the closure of businesses.

“He ignored the advice of the scientists and doctors who deal with infectious diseases,” said Wilson.

Trump has chafed at the recommendations of scientists and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, failed to meet with his Coronavirus Task Force, and scoffed at leading infection-control expert Dr Anthony Fauci.

Irwine Clare, who lost his brother to the virus, said that the Trump administration has been an overwhelming failure.

“The president could have moved quicker to put in place measures that would have slowed the spread of the virus. Even now he is contributing to spreading the virus with his political rallies,” said Clare, director of Caribbean Immigrant Services.