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You could argue that U.S. President Donald Trump’s short-sighted and bungled handling of the COVID-19 pandemic began before the virus took hold in his country.

Two years earlier, Luciana Borio, the president’s biodefense preparedness advisor, warned that a flu pandemic – not a 9/11 redux – was the country’s No. 1 health security threat. As the director of medical and biodefence preparedness at the National Security Council, Borio said the country wasn’t nearly ready to confront such a lethal outbreak if it was to occur.

What was the White House’s response? It dismantled the NSC’s global health security office shortly thereafter.

Dr. Borio, and other experts such as her, were soon out of jobs. And now, 327 million Americans have been left to suffer through a pandemic without a coherent strategy for dealing with it – even though their government saw it all coming.

To make matters worse – much, much worse – the country is being led by a dangerous egomaniac who has lied to and misled Americans about the gravity of the threat they’re facing almost from the beginning. Now, he is musing about grossly inflaming a problem he had a chance to mitigate. Mr. Trump is threatening to ignore the advice of virtually every major public health officer in the U.S. – including his own White House adviser on infectious diseases, Dr. Anthony Fauci – and effectively allow for a “culling of the herd” that will result in the deaths of hundreds of thousands, if not millions, of Americans.

Maybe the scenes we are about to witness will help Canadians isolate-in-place with even more vigilance.

The plague of Donald Trump

What is about to unfold will be horrifying, unquestionably. The situation in New York, which could become the new global epicentre of the disease, is dire. Governor Andrew Cuomo has pleaded with the White House to do more, and when the state was offered 400 ventilators, Mr. Cuomo exploded: “What are we going to do with 400 ventilators when we need 30,000?” The White House has since agreed to send 4,000 more – but the governor has predicted that more than 40,000 New Yorkers might need urgent care in the next few weeks.

There are scenes of turmoil and disarray everywhere in the U.S. In New Orleans, which survived Hurricane Katrina in 2005 and is now living through another disaster, doctors have reported that intensive care units are running out of basic supplies; meanwhile, residents of the city continue to ignore calls to keep a safe distance from others. This scenario is being played out across the U.S., where the coronavirus death toll on Wednesday was 791, with nearly 60,000 cases.

And now, President Chaos is promising to begin ramping down social distancing by Apr. 12, despite the pleas of doctors and nurses around the country who are begging him not to do it, as doing so would unleash scenes of pandemonium in already overwhelmed hospitals and allow the disease to spread further and faster. But it might be April 12. And just because he thinks having the churches full again on that day “would be a beautiful thing.”

This intended course of action has already caught the attention of Prime Minister Justin Trudeau’s office, and to say there is worry there would a gross understatement. Canadians also have to be prepared for the fallout of Mr. Trump’s actions.

That means being prepared to tighten restrictions at the border even further. If the virus spreads because of a decision by the president to relax the rules around social distancing, it will undoubtedly mean that those U.S. workers coming into Canada now to transport goods will be at greater risk of carrying the disease.

That, in turn, will put Canadians at risk. And that is not right.

Canadians, for the most part, have gotten with the program and are staying inside. We can’t let our health be compromised by the idiocy of Mr. Trump and the pathetic, loyal lapdogs that make up his administration.

While we likely couldn’t shut the border completely, we may have to institute new, harsh rules about the manner in which those coming into the country are treated. I’m not sure precisely how; we’ve just put a mandatory quarantine in place for those arriving from international destinations, which is a smart move. Our medical professionals, as ever, would have a better idea of how this might be handled. But we have to be ready. We can’t let our efforts to plank the virus be compromised by the unconscionable folly of others.

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