Opinion: Trump asks us to remember what he’s done to combat COVID. How could we forget?

On Wednesday evening, Trump, the ex-president, once again issued a statement, a typically Trumpian one:

“I hope everyone remembers when they’re getting the COVID-19 (often referred to as the China Virus) Vaccine, that if I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all.”

Well, that’s not exactly how I remember it. I remember a year of Trump doing little more than hoping and wishing and thinking happy thoughts while making one bad and fact-free prediction after another.

I remember February 2020, when he should have been deploying America’s scientific community and the White House pandemic team (if he hadn’t disbanded that team in 2018) to go all-out against the impending pandemic and was instead doing absolutely nothing but making one ludicrous statement after another:

“We pretty much shut it down, coming in from China,” he said.

“I think the virus is going to be—it’s going to be just fine,” he said.

He said, “Looks like by April, you know in theory when it gets a little warmer, it miraculously goes away.”

Still in February, he said, “I think it’s a problem that’s going to go away,” and when the U.S. had its first 15 cases, “Those 15, within a couple of days, is going to be down close to zero.”

And exactly how was that going to happen? Without getting tangled up in the intricacies of medical science and the whole messy business about how viruses work, Trump put it in terms that a lay person could understand: “It’s going to disappear. One day, it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.”

I remember mid-March when the stay-at-home order was issued by Gov. Gavin Newsom and I was sent off into the desert for 80 days and 80 nights writing columns by the fireplace with my dogs at my feet, while Trump declared, “I just wanted to stop it as it pertains to the United States, and that’s what we’ve done. We’ve stopped it.”

Not that it was his fault to begin with, you’ll recall. “I don’t take responsibility at all,” he said.

I remember the Promise of Easter: “”I would love to have the country, opened up and just raring to go by Easter,” Trump said in the Rose Garden.

I remember (with a little research to jog my memory) that the day before Easter, Covid deaths in the U.S. passed 10,000, and five days later deaths exceeded 20,000; four days later, more than 30,000 and five days after that, 40,000.

You might recall that on April 23, Trump said, “States are starting to open up now and it’s very exciting to see.” The following day, deaths from COVID passed 50,000. Five days later, 60,000. On that day, Trump said “It’s going to go away, this is going to go away.”

Don’t forget mid-May, when Trump maintained that “we’ve done a great job on COVID response, but the lamestream media doesn’t want to go with that narrative.”

I remember that by the end of May Trump had terminated the United States’ relationship with the World Health Organization and COVID deaths passed 100,000.

Mid-June, remember, Trump said, “It’s fading away. It’s going to fade away.” And, “It’s dying out. The numbers are starting to get very good.”

Surely you haven’t forgotten the cancellation of summer, when we all stayed indoors throughout the season with beaches closed and the coronavirus death rate passing 130,000 a couple of days after the ironically termed Independence Day. Then 140,000, then 150,000.

On Aug. 3, remember, Trump said about COVID, “It is what it is.”

Aug. 6: 160,000

Aug. 16: 170,000

Aug. 26: 180,000

Trump had grown bored and, despite the fact that he and the First Lady had tested positive for COVID as October began, he had had his fill of the media’s reportage of the disease and its rapid worsening.

“Covid, covid, covid. That’s the unifying chant of the fake news lamestream media.”

On Oct. 24, five days after U.S. COVID deaths had passed 220,000, you should remember that Trump tweeted, “Turn on televisions: covid, covid, covid, covid, covid. A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don’t talk about it—covid, covid, covid, covid.” COVID, indeed; every three to five days in the fall (you remember we lost Thanksgiving, and Christmas wasn’t looking jolly) the deaths in America from COVID advanced by another 10,000 souls.

In mid-December—remember?—Trump, now a lame duck but refusing to admit it, boasted that 20 million people would be vaccinated by the end of the year. The Centers for Disease Control tracker showed that 2 million were vaccinated.

On Jan. 6, when Trump fanatics, election-deniers, white supremacists and others of their ilk stormed the Capitol, coronavirus deaths exceeded more than 360,000. By the time the sun finally set on Trump’s nightmarish and deadly term, more than 25 million COVID cases had been reported in the U.S., leading to more than 400,000 deaths.

The corner has, at last, finally been turned since Joe Biden took office. One of his first moves as president was to issue a national strategy for responding to the pandemic, and we’re close now to getting back to whatever the new normal will be, and his accomplishments have been achieved in roughly the same amount of time as Trump’s initial accomplishment of letting things go totally out of control.

And now Trump says, ‘If I wasn’t President, you wouldn’t be getting that beautiful ‘shot’ for 5 years, at best, and probably wouldn’t be getting it at all.”

If he hadn’t been president, maybe we wouldn’t have needed it.

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Tim Grobaty is a columnist and opinions editor for the Long Beach Post. He began his newspaper career at the Press-Telegram in 1976 as a copy boy and moved on to feature writer, music critic, TV critic, copy editor and daily columnist. He’s the author of several books, including I’m Dyin’ Here, and he lives in Long Beach.
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