TRUMP, Donald
Photo: MTI/EPA/Sipa/Pool/Oliver Contreras

U.S. President Donald Trump is taking massive action to tackle the COVID-19 crisis as the clock is ticking toward November, and experts say the elections will be a referendum on Trump’s ability to both fight the virus and to deal with its damage to the economy.

“Trump isn’t running against Joe Biden. He’s running against the coronavirus,” Republican Strategist and TV news personality Ford O’Connell told Xinhua.

Christopher Galdieri, assistant professor at Saint Anselm College, echoed one of those thoughts.

“I really do think this is going to be a referendum on how Trump is handling this more than anything else,” he told Xinhua.

Trump not only has to contain the spread of the virus, but needs to make sure it does not “kill” the U.S. economy, as businesses are shutting down, and retail and restaurant workers are being told to stay home. All of these could do major damage to the retail, home building and restaurant sectors, not to mention U.S. markets, and the damage could spill over into other industries.

The White House is scrambling to take action.

The U.S. Federal Emergency Management Agency is distributing over 8 million N95 respirator masks and millions of face masks, and a massive U.S. Naval hospital ship will deploy to New York City — the epicenter of the virus. Trump last week signed a law to allow millions of facial masks used for industrial purposes to be used at hospitals, and the White House is pushing companies to come up with a vaccine as soon as possible.

On the economic front, the Dow Jones Industrial Average surged over 2,000 points Tuesday on hopes that a massive coronavirus rescue package would soon pass.

The total package comes to 6 trillion U.S. dollars — the biggest in U.S. history, top White House economic aide Larry Kudlow said Tuesday in a press briefing.

But ultimately, the outcome in terms of unemployment and people’s financial situations remains unknown. While some economists predict a sharp decline and later an equally sharp rebound, others remain unsure.

“Unemployment is going to rise sharply in the coming months, so that will be a challenge for Trump’s re-election.

When conditions deteriorate, voters get more negative about presidents,” Brookings Institution Senior Fellow Darrell West told Xinhua.

“If we’re still locked down and getting conflicting advice from state and federal officials and unemployment is at 30 percent, it’s tough to see him winning,” said Galdieri.

Source: by Matthew Rusling – WASHINGTON, Xinhua

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