The US coronavirus response: An F for failure? | Upfront (Arena)



As the number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the US surpasses 11,000, major cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and New York are in lockdown. Experts say a lack of available testing has been a major setback for the US and has prevented the country from getting ahead of the pandemic.

Former Utah Republican Governor Mike Leavitt suggested the US could have done better in terms of testing.

“When the after-action report is written on this episode, it’s clear to me that a couple of things will have been learned. The first is that they need to open up to tests that have been validated in other countries,” Leavitt said.

Leavitt said the US faces a unique challenge: a scattered and large population.

“There’s 330 million people. It’s a substantially bigger challenge, but it’s going to be very clear that this will be seen as a weakness. I think that it is being overcome within the course of time, but it’s cost us time … there’s no question that it has weakened our response,” Leavitt said.

In 2018, President Donald Trump disbanded the US government’s team dedicated to responding to a pandemic. When asked about that decision, Leavitt said there was some dispute about what actually happened.

“I’m not here to defend that one way or the other,” he said.

“What I do know is that the United States now is responding in a very robust way, with the closing of businesses, with the closing of schools and universities, with a complete suspension of many of our sports leagues and no meetings, that’s a quite remarkable response,” he added.

When the first coronavirus cases were identified in the US, Donald Trump dismissed the seriousness of the spread. In January he said the virus was under control, in February he said it would “go away”, and suggested Democrats were using the virus as a “hoax” to make him look bad.

Leavitt said those statements were “impossible to defend” and that it was time now to look to the future.

“I do think that what’s important is what’s happening now and in the next four weeks, not what happened before … We now have to, as a people, rally to ensure that we in fact respond,” he said.

In this week’s UpFront, Mike Leavitt, former Republican Governor of Utah, discusses the US government’s handling of…

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