The Dumb "Trump Shut Down Too Late" Argument

AP Photo/Carolyn Kaster

One of the most ridiculous notions being promoted by the media, especially with the so-called Woodward “bombshell” revelation that Trump did not come to the White House Press Room and start screaming and rending his garments about the virus in February, is that Trump did not take the virus “seriously.”

The narrative the Democrats have settled on now, is that Trump’s locking out of China and Europe, which they criticized as racist, xenophobic and even “unscientific” when he announced both, is that Trump acted “too late.”

With the full benefit of hindsight the story amongst the President’s haters is that Trump should have sent America into lockdown immediately he heard about the novel virus in China, with Joe Biden claiming that he would have locked down America in the first week of January – even as the WHO was saying there was no human-to-human transmission.

This will almost certainly be advanced in the debates with Joe Biden, especially since one of the debate moderators, Steve Scully, was once an intern in Joe Biden’s office.

Trump’s go-to response would be to point out his locking out of China on January 31st, weeks before the experts recommended it, mentioning the virus in his SOTU address, his setting up a COVID-19 response team, Tony Fauci’s statements vouching for his response, and other actions he and his Administration took while the Democrats and the media were attacking him for it.

This is somewhat effective, but it leaves points on the table. Especially since it leaves alive the risible idea that a President should immediately shut down the nation’s economy, close the borders and imprison citizens in their homes every time there’s a disease outbreak in some part of the world.

The President would be well served to make this point; the WHO records dozens of disease outbreaks every year; Zika, Dengue, Ebola, Lassa, SARS, MERS, etc. all of which are capable of evolving and mutating into vastly more infectious and more deadly versions of themselves.


COVID-19, like SARS and MERS, is a species of coronavirus. Ebola is just one type of filovirus, Zika and Dengue are probably not the only two species of flavivirus and Lassa is just one type of arenavirus.

So while there is always a fear of a novel disease arising, there is always the fear that we’ll see a disease outbreak that looks entirely familiar, but discover that it’s something else, something worse, caused by a new, mutated pathogen.

Keep in mind that the Spanish Flu killed between 50 to 100 million people – before modern air travel and millions of people passing through airports everyday. A person can get infected in Asia and be in America after passing through multiple European airports and unknowingly spreading it to thousands of people within 24 hours.

The point is this; if the President is going to shut down the country every time a new disease outbreak is reported in Asia, Europe or Africa, without investigating and finding out more about the disease, then we’ll be shutting down and suspending travel, sometimes twice, every month.

That’s not sustainable, or responsible. And Trump should be able to explain that.