Trump brags about not listening to his experts on COVID crisis

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His disregard for the advice of top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci and others caused the worst economic collapse since the Great Depression.

In a Thursday night interview with Fox News host Laura Ingraham, Donald Trump openly admitted he flouted the advice of top infectious disease specialist Dr. Anthony Fauci when responding to the COVID-19 pandemic — even though his negligence sent the United States spiraling into the worst economic recession since the Great Depression.

"If you really look, I didn't listen to him too much because I was doing the opposite of what he was saying," Trump told Ingraham. "I got along with him fine, but I didn't listen to him too much because he said don't close it up to China, and I did very early, don't close it up to Europe, we had the problem with Italy and France ... I closed it up to Europe very, very early."

Trump, who in July similarly slammed Fauci's early pandemic advice, was referring to comments made by Fauci on January 24, 2020, three days after the first case of coronavirus hit U.S. shores.

At the time, Fauci told reporters a travel ban was "not a good idea at this time" as it "would create a lot of disruption, economically and otherwise, and it wouldn't necessarily have a positive effect."

But approximately 10 days later, Fauci was already advocating for travel restrictions, saying such safety precautions were "good public health measures."

The economic fallout of Trump's refusal to listen to top health experts has been immense. Some 22 million jobs were lost during the pandemic, and 9.5 million have yet to be recovered.

The country has suffered a 3.5% contraction in GDP and the budget deficit has hit heights it hasn't seen since 1945, sitting at $3.1 trillion — before factoring in President Joe Biden's $1.9 trillion American Rescue Plan.

Data shows U.S. poverty levels have increased, especially among children, with 25% of American adults saying they or someone else in their household was laid off during the pandemic and 1 in 6 Americans needing to procure food from a food bank.

The economic downturn also caused an eviction crisis that hit Black and brown communities particularly hard. Some 25% of white renters had a difficult time making rent during the pandemic, with that number increasing to more than 25% for Black renters and 50% for renters identifying as Hispanic. Black and Hispanic-identifying renters were threatened with eviction four times as often as white renters, and a National Women's Law Project analysis showed that Black women in particular experienced high rates of eviction. Low-wage workers and mothers with children also disproportionately suffered the impact of housing instability.

Trump could have staved off the massive economic crisis and prevented millions of lost jobs. Instead, he lied about the pandemic's death toll, mocked Centers for Disease Control and Prevention recommendations for mask-wearing, and promoted widely debunked claims of untested hydroxychloroquine being an effective treatment for COVID-19.

Meanwhile, he stonewalled efforts by Fauci to address his dangerous — and false — coronavirus claims, at one point refusing to allow the infectious disease specialist to answer a reporter about whether hydroxychloroquine treatment was effective.

Trump consistently sidelined Fauci and other advisers, ignoring their advice and threatening the economy — and public health — while allowing his press team to publicly claim he was listening to it. Fauci has criticized the White House for skewing his advice and intentions, and said in March 2020 he couldn't "do the impossible" and convince Trump to tell the truth about the pandemic.

"I can't jump in front of the microphone and push him down," Fauci remarked.

Trump's former White House press secretary Stephanie Grisham claimed the news media made up concerns that Trump was disregarding experts like Fauci.

"Unfortunately, once again, some members of the media are using a really important time in the country to try and divide people on the task force," Grisham said in a Fox News appearance in March 2020.

Federal Reserve Chair Jerome Powell, Treasury Secretary Janet Yellen, and newly appointed Labor Secretary Marty Walsh all agreed this week that while the economy is beginning to recover from the damage done by COVID-19, there is still much work to be done.

"The recovery has progressed more quickly than generally expected and looks to be strengthening," Powell said. "This is due in significant part to the unprecedented fiscal and monetary policy actions I mentioned, which provided essential support to households, businesses, and communities ... But the recovery is far from complete. So at the Fed, we will continue to provide the economy the support that it needs for as long as it takes."

Published with permission of The American Independent Foundation.