For years, experts have warned that President Trump "has been squandering the credibility he could need in a moment of national emergency, like a terrorist attack or a public health crisis," Annie Karni, Michael Crowley, and Maggie Haberman write at The New York Times. And if the COVID-19 outbreak proves to be that moment, "his history of issuing false claims could make it harder to sell the public on any plans to address coronavirus."
Trump has already "made inaccurate or questionable claims" about the new virus, the Times notes. "Current Trump allies said the fact that the president chose to address the growing public health crisis quickly after returning from a trip to India showed how seriously he was taking the outbreak. But privately, they say he has been reluctant to give in to what he has called an 'alarmist' view of the virus's potential to cause damage as he warily watches the effect of the outbreak on the stock market."
The new cover of The New Yorker makes a similar point more succinctly, suggesting his self-restricted vision is hampering America's response:
For what it's worth, epidemiology experts say the best thing for Americans to do right now is stay calm and not panic about the coronavirus, The Washington Post reports, as well as wash your hands regularly, cover your mouth when you cough or sneeze, and stay home if you're feeling sick. But "those surgical masks? If you're not sick, you don't need to wear them," the Post adds. "The main point of the mask is to keep someone who is infected with the virus from spreading it to others," says Timothy Brewer, a professor of epidemiology and medicine at UCLA's Fielding School of Public Health. You can relate that to the New Yorker cover at your leisure.