Interesting slant on Woodward book: "Woodward caused 200K US deaths by not revealing what he knew from Trump". Woodward argues that he did not know it was true because Trump so often is unreliable on science. Which perhaps leads to a good excuse for Trump: if you just don't process science facts because you do not believe they have any real validity. This is a social science view that many (not hard scientists) find attractive. The idea that scientific findings are always embedded in a social matrix and therefore always variable according to assumptions and biases, and never reliable. Like most attractive false ideas it is true in part. And it leads to problems, like ignoring climate change or COVID.
It goes with an inability to process probability and risk correctly. Science whenever things are new gives probabilities, not certainties. As study continues those probabilities firm up and in the end become pretty certain, though never absolutely certain. Keeping people safe is about preparing for those 1 in 10 or 1 in 2 chances that may never happen.
Trump says he was misinforming US population on COVID risks through February and March "because he did not want them to panic". Which will surprise no-one.
Seems to me the argument for this, which I understand, is that stock markets and the economy do both depend on sentiment, and the economy (maybe less stock markets) matters for people's jobs and livelihoods. And panic leads to bad knee jerk reactions. I note that in the US stock markets absolutely matter for people's pensions and any leader's election prospects.
- US is not China - where the state thinks it knows best. You need to tell people the truth, and then behave with calm leadership so they do not panic. COVID is 5X worse than flu (maybe worse because of long-term cytokine storm side effects on those who survive - e.g. the bradykinin hypothesis and blood vessels throughout the body leaking during the COVID storm), therefore it is false to imply it is comparable. Trump at least knew the 5X bit. Rationally you can argue that at very low rates of infection it is less bad in overall effect. But, if you know it is a "tricky" air-bourne respiratory disease you also know that without strong action low rates will not stay low rates, and its potential effect is much worse than flu.
- Even if you should play down the possible (maybe will never happen) consequences you know yourself that they may happen. Surely therefore you do all you can to put in plans to keep people safe?
There are a lot of people here on the side of Trump's "fear of the pandemic is worse than the pandemic" view. Would you therefore not do major planning? Or would you argue that Trump did this planning, as much as he could?
These decisions are not easy. The UK, with a similar right wing populist leadership, was very slow at the start in planning (and has been slow throughout in planning) but that seems more due to incompetence, laziness, and bad judgement than a deliberate policy.