You can’t help but think that if the United States was led by a strong, decisive leader, the country wouldn’t be in the position it is five months in to the COVID-19 pandemic. Johns Hopkins reports one-quarter of all coronavirus cases worldwide have been right here in America. That’s a staggering statistic considering the U.S. has only four percent of the world population. So, what did the U.S. get wrong that other countries got right? Today Donald Trump is again blaming too much testing for our current status.

But what if we had an administration which prioritized masks, social distancing and contact tracing for the entire country? We wouldn’t be facing skyrocketing case numbers. Stat News writes:

The country’s long list of missteps includes decisions from President Trump, governors, local officials, and even activists who have vocally resisted mitigation measures like wearing masks and maintaining social distancing.  Looking more broadly any examination could begin with the country’s failure to build infrastructure for testing and contact tracing in early 2020, Trump’s consistent downplaying of the virus even amid mass death, and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s highly publicized testing debacle.

Remember when the CDC was the gold standard for nationwide guidance on pandemics? Under the Trump administration, the agency’s role has been greatly diminished. Instead, the president shirked responsibility and handed the reins to governors around the country. That meant that in some cases, we had 50+ different guidelines to follow. What a mess that turned out to be. Take masks. The CDC and countless medical professionals recommended wearing masks, but Trump himself said he wouldn’t wear a mask because it would “send the wrong message.”

National Geographic quotes Jeffrey Shaman, an epidemiologist at Columbia University’s Mailman School of Public Health, “The countries that have succeeded have been the ones that have had real political and public will unite.” Without a clear message from above, the U.S. has been at a disadvantage.

Earlier this week, Joe Biden said, “Month after month, as other leaders in other countries took the necessary steps to get the virus under control, Donald Trump failed us.” On the subject of masks, he added, “We absolutely need a clear message from the very top of the federal government that everyone needs to wear a mask in public. Period.”

Nat Geo continues:

The problem is getting the message just right, because mixed signals can harm people’s abilities to adhere to public health advice. Research shows that conflicting messages can cause mental hardship, and in the absence of credible and consistent information, people often hear what they want to hear and become prone to seeking misinformation.

The Washington Post adds:

America’s position as the world’s leader in coronavirus cases and deaths is in large part the result of human error, and the still-rising caseload stands as a stark reminder of the blunders that have characterized the national response. Trump’s actions, and his position in the Oval Office, make him a central figure in any assessment of the country’s handling of the outbreak.

Anderson Cooper summed it up well earlier this week:

“Remember the president talking about this being a war against an ‘invisible enemy?’ If this country was actually invaded by an enemy force, and the president left its defense up to individual states the way he did with the coronavirus, that president would be forced to resign.”

*This post contains analysis and opinion