I'm gonna go out on a limb and say that although Trump's handling of this disaster has been its own disaster, I don't think the US would have been culturally prepared even if Hillary was president. Regardless of any other policy differences, this has not only been a federal administration failure. It is a failure of government of every level across the country, and a failure of many of our citizens who refuse to do what they can to work together as a community. And the issues at the root of this failure go back decades, on both sides of the aisle, and to American culture itself.
Trump is responsible for death, but death was coming no matter how well the affair was handled.
Had to break this up into two posts due to character limits:
Adding to What Agema has stated above, How the Federal government handles this determines the outcome on every level. We have failures on every level because of the failure in leadership and action from the beginning. Everything has a cause and effect and we are dealing with the effect of Trump's decisions now on every level. Let me break it down here by what should have been done and how that would have changed what we are dealing with now:
*What should have been done: They should have listened to the experts and not only allocated more resources and funding to the National stockpile, they should have also expanded funding into viral and antibody research due to the well known threat of incoming new viruses expected to be greatly increased due to climate change and the ever pressing issue of antibiotic resistance. This would have had the US in a better position to respond immediately buying the US time to make further preparations while they could draw from the national stockpile to address any threat when they first become aware of it.
* In order to maintain a large National Stockpile, the US should already have a system in place that they have a constant flow of equipment in and out in order to maintain a well stocked, safe supply.
Instead of individual Nursing homes, hospital systems and clinics buying in small quantities from retail suppliers of medical equipment and supplies, the US should buy at a quantity discount from wholesalers, and then provide at cost to the nursing homes, hospitals and clinics. If all the hospitals are getting their equipment directly from the National stockpile and the National Stockpile is constantly getting more in from suppliers, they would not have the " expiration" and safety issues they do by not doing so. This is an issue easily resolved to help bring down healthcare equipment costs in the US while also maintaining what is needed in an emergency. This should have been done long ago, not an afterthought when they ignored the problem and then fail to have what they need when they need it.
*Healthcare access should have been expanded, so that everyone can afford to have the necessary tests needed that would determine whether or not a new virus is present earlier, rather than wait for us to be notified from elsewhere. A Pandemic such as this could have started anywhere, it could have started in the US, but it takes much longer to detect if we do not fund the physicians and scientists doing so and allow access to them by the general public.
This way the US would have been more prepared and in a better position overall to act quickly in the event of a Pandemic.
In December of 2019- January 2020:
*Federal officials should have been examining what was happening in China and elsewhere and expanding their stockpiles as Germany and other nations did. The US government should have been working with other governments hashing out an international response to the problem instead of isolating and ignoring what the other nations were working to do together. We should have had numerous plans already in place and ready to go depending on what course the virus took. The government should always be prepared for the worst and hope for the best. In the event it fizzled out early, they could use the increased supplies in other underdeveloped nations as a form of international aid if they were unable to be used in the US.
* The US should have taken the tests WHO offered and used them until they could get a better test made if they were not satisfied with it. The WHO test should have served as a stop gap measure so that they would not lose time in being able to act.
*The federal government should have taken control over the response immediately and when they realized that there were global shortages of much needed PPE and equipment, they should have implemented the Defense production act to make PPE and supplied it first to the cities being hit the hardest and then also to the States to distribute to the general public in addition to the front line healthcare, police and paramedics. Just as China had their first responders and street cleaners in hazmat, the US should have been providing these things this entire time as well.
*At the time Trump called for the US to "ban" travel from China, he should have actually implemented a federal lockdown and restricted all travel from all countries, not just China. Instead of banning it all together, there should have had quarantine procedures and testing in place for those coming in, not just from China, but all other nations including the UK, which for some strange reason he initially left out because it hurt his business to do so.
*The national lockdown should have applied to all US states and expressed that it was only temporary while the US federal government works to get the needed PPE made and distributed to communities across the US. That we would be able to start easing restrictions as soon as we could get the PPE to the people and could have safety measures in place to help keep people safe. It should have been made clear from the beginning that this was serious, and not a hoax and that this is necessary to save American lives.
*The federal government should have called on the National guard to help get supplies created via the defense production act and distributed to the hardest hit areas first and then distributed supplies by risk assessment to each region.
* The federal government then should have called upon Governors, mayors and all city and state officials to help organize groups on the local level to help distribute supplies in each neighborhood.
When these guys came out to protest, they should have been met by their city officials and the national guard asking them to stop standing around making things worse, to put a mask on and help distribute supplies needed to where they need to go. The BEST way to put a stop to this sort of nonsense is give them something to do to help make it end faster. Chances are, they will take you up on it and get to work to end it if they are involved rather than out stirring up trouble. Whether they are unloading trains and trucks or driving around and leaving them on doorsteps, they can make a difference between helping and hurting just by giving them a better option than their previous idea. This results much less distrust and improves understanding when they feel they are a part of the solution.
*The worst part of the Pandemic would fizzle out faster due to everyone having protection they need when they are forced to go into public, allowing us to open up more faster and not having the unnecessary deaths in the process.
ALL of these actions would have ensured that we save many more American lives than we have lost. Yes, we will all die eventually, it is a matter of how, why and when. There is no reason why we have to lose so many due to this when if we actually make the right decisions to keep it from happening like this. We can even have MORE open, not less if the federal government just provided the necessary PPE to help prevent the spread instead of looking at the Pandemic as a way to make a buck and spreading unfounded conspiracies and promoting madness instead of doing what was actually needed here.