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Press: Trump flunks public health leadership test

No matter what Kellyanne ConwayKellyanne Elizabeth ConwayMelania Trump gives rally remarks in rare joint appearance with the president Melania Trump focuses on coronavirus in return to campaign trail McEnany appears on Fox in 'personal capacity' as Trump campaign adviser MORE says, facts matter. So, let’s start with the facts about the coronavirus epidemic as of this moment, although they will change, no doubt becoming even worse, by the time this column appears in print.

Facts. There are more than 88,500 cases of coronavirus, or COVID-19, reported worldwide, with some 89 in the United States — and, so far, 3,044 people have died from the virus, including six deaths in this country. By far the most cases are still in China, but presence of the virus has now been reported in 67 countries and territories — the number of people infected in Italy doubled in 24 hours — and many of the newly infected had no connection to anyone who’d traveled to or from China. The Dow tumbled more than 3,000 points, dragging the market down to its worst week since the financial crisis of 2008. Airlines have canceled flights. The Louvre closed for two days in a row. Drug stores have sold out of face masks and hand sanitizer.

Make no mistake about it. And put all politics aside. This is a worldwide health and economic crisis with severe consequences that demands the utmost in leadership and full deployment of resources from both health officials, business leaders, and governments national and local. And what do we hear from the Trump administration?

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Relax! Like a miracle, COVID-19 will soon disappear. Meanwhile, according to Donald TrumpDonald John TrumpStephen Miller: Trump to further crackdown on illegal immigration if he wins US records 97,000 new COVID-19 cases, shattering daily record Biden leads Trump by 8 points nationally: poll MORE and his knee-jerk supporters, the coronavirus is nothing to worry about. It’s just — take your pick — another attempt by Democrats, deep-state anti-Trumpers, or the mainstream media to prevent Donald Trump from getting another four years in the White House. In other words, like everything else in the age of Trump, the coronavirus is all about HIM!

Trump, in fact, told supporters in Charleston, S.C., that reports of a coronavirus threat were nothing but the Democrats’ “new hoax” — just like former special counsel Robert MuellerRobert (Bob) MuellerCNN's Toobin warns McCabe is in 'perilous condition' with emboldened Trump CNN anchor rips Trump over Stone while evoking Clinton-Lynch tarmac meeting The Hill's 12:30 Report: New Hampshire fallout MORE’s investigation and the House impeachment hearings -— all aimed at him. Which, of course, was echoed by loyal acolytes, starting with White House chief of staff Mick MulvaneyMick MulvaneyGaffes put spotlight on Meadows at tough time for Trump Trump says he may lower corporate tax rate to 20 percent if reelected Is Social Security safe from the courts? MORE, who told an adoring crowd at CPAC that the media was only reporting on the coronavirus (3,044 people dead so far!) because it believed the virus “will bring down the president, that’s what this is all about.” Recycling Fox News propaganda, Donald Trump Jr. even suggested that Democrats and the media were hoping millions would die of the virus, so they could blame Trump for it.

Such ugly, hyper-partisan rhetoric is the last thing the American people want or need at this time. Donald Trump should stop tweeting long enough to check how Ronald Reagan handled the space shuttle Challenger disaster; or Bill ClintonWilliam (Bill) Jefferson ClintonArizona: On the fast track to swing state status Trump fights for battleground Arizona The Hill's Campaign Report: Trump, Biden face off for last time on the debate stage MORE, the Oklahoma City bombing; or George W. Bush, Sept, 11; or Barack ObamaBarack Hussein ObamaBerlin's Madame Tussauds places wax Trump in a dumpster ahead of election New poll shows Biden leading Trump by 6 points in North Carolina Who is 'Anonymous' author Miles Taylor? MORE, the Ebola crisis. This is the time when a president must stand up and unite the country, not stoop down and further divide it.

Here’s what Trump should do, instead. First, acknowledge that the coronavirus is a serious public health crisis (not a Democratic Party plot) that demands everyone’s attention and cooperation. Second, suspend any more campaign rallies until it’s over. Third, summon Democratic leaders to the White House and announce a united, concerted, bipartisan national effort to make available all resources necessary to combat the disease. Fourth, resume daily White House briefings led by health professionals like Dr. Anthony Fauci to keep the American people informed.

This is the first real leadership test for Trump. So far, he’s flunking it.

Press is host of “The Bill Press Pod.” He is author of “From the Left: A Life in the Crossfire.”