Former President Donald Trump’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic was a public health disaster. Now a new report in one of the world’s most respected medical journals is attempting to quantify the human cost.
The report, published by the Lancet, faults the Trump administration’s lack of preparedness around personal protective equipment (PPE) and its “non-existent oversight of infection control practices” for the deaths of nearly 3,000 healthcare workers alone.
It also says Trump’s decision to designate the meatpacking industry “essential” was a contributor to more than 45,000 COVID-19 cases, and the deaths of at least 239 meatpacking workers.
But perhaps most damning of all, the Lancet found that roughly 40 percent of the nation’s COVID deaths—as many as 188,000 people out of nearly 470,000—could have been avoided, something that the researchers directly blame on Trump’s pandemic response, or lack thereof.
“Even the best of countries have had deep problems with COVID, but we think there’s substantial shortfall because of Trump,” Dr. David Himmelstein, a primary care doctor, professor at the CUNY School of Public Health, and one of the report’s lead authors, told VICE News.
Reasons for that shortfall, according to Himmelstein, include Trump’s well-documented downplaying of COVID, his boosting of unproven crank treatments like hydroxychloroquine, and the Trump administration’s de-emphasis on public health, which included eliminating a pandemic unit within the National Security Council in 2018, less than two years before the COVID-19 pandemic hit the U.S.