What is worse is that President Trump was spreading disinformation and covering up the problem that he created a few years ago. In 2018, Trump proposed to slash the CDC's budget by 17% and its global disease prevention efforts by 80% because he believed it was a hoax. The acting CDC director at-the-time tweeted, "Proposed CDC budget: unsafe at any level of enactment. Would increase illness, death, risks to Americans, and health care costs."
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As a public health graduate, I understand Public Health has always been an out-of-sight, out-of-mind profession. When things are well, society forgets about Public Health because everything looks safe and there is no immediate threat. But when an outbreak, such as Ebola or SARS, occurs, society immediately responds by calling for an increase in Public Health spending.
President Trump’s initial steps to secure $8.3 billion in emergency funding for the coronavirus is a great starting point. However, his unwillingness to understand that temporary funding won’t resolve the underlining and reoccurring health issue is like putting a bandage on a bullet wound. Furthermore, his inclination to still mis-spread health information to the public in order to garner votes is absurd. It suggests that Trump doesn’t take Public Health seriously. He believes Public Health is a hoax like the coronavirus, which is a shame; given the golden opportunity right now to lead and unite all Americans against the outbreak.
What if CDC’s 2018 budget remained constant? What if public health professionals were taken seriously in this administration?
Maybe the coronavirus could have been prevented from starting. Maybe the S&P 500 would not have dropped over 10% in a week. Maybe President Trump would not have had to fly to Atlanta this month to meet with the CDC.
Either way, let it be known to all future presidential candidates that Public Health isn’t a hoax. And it isn’t a joke. It is the beacon of truth that we need right now.
Timothy Lee lives in Atlanta and works in the healthcare sector.