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Opinion Columns

Opinion: Step into an alternate universe and get a glimpse of presidential leadership

Denver attorney Steve Zansberg imagines what different leadership in the White House briefing room might look like.

Ladies and Gentlemen:  Today is the __th day of our nation’s, and the world’s, ongoing battle against the most serious public health crisis in more than a century.  

As of [time] p.m. this afternoon, the number of documented individuals infected with the coronavirus is __#__ here in the U.S. and __#___ worldwide.  

Although many, many, more are struggling and literally fighting for their lives, here in America we have lost _#_ precious souls to this pandemic, and the world has lost _#_.  

Steve Zansberg

My heart goes out to all the family members and friends who have suffered these losses, every one of which is irreplaceable and leaves a gaping hole in our collective fabric. This is a terrible, terrible disease; it ravages its victims and causes many to depart this Earth completely alone, with no physical contact or the company of loved ones. It is horrible. 

We must do everything in our powers to minimize this pandemic’s impact.  Our robust economy will return in due course, and those of us who survive will again be back out in the world, engaging in what previously were routine day-to-day interactions. 

But first and foremost we must ensure that we have in place the proper procedures and protocols to prevent a “second wave” that could be far more devastating than this first one, as was the case with the so-called Spanish Flu of 1918.

That pandemic killed between 20 and 50 million people, worldwide. To subject our fellow citizens to the type of misery and suffering that so many amongst us have already endured is not only inhumane, it ultimately would cause far greater economic harm than a temporary loss of employment and the relative inconvenience of staying inside our homes for weeks on end.  

Our government – good, honest and dedicated public servants from both sides of the political aisle – is committed to doing whatever needs to be done to soften the financial blow that the necessary social distancing restrictions have caused.  

READ: Colorado Sun opinion columnists.

The bipartisan Economic Recovery Task Force –- co-chaired by _#_ former Secretaries of the Treasury (from both Republican and Democratic administrations), and staffed by Nobel-laureate economists of all political stripes –- has already introduced a series of economic assistance programs we’ve signed into law, and they are in the process of formulating several more.

And this week, we are instituting their recommendation to hire more than _#_ as federal employees of the newly created National Contact Tracing Operation, that will play a vital role in making it possible, down the road, to lift the current set of restrictions on our movements and activities.

I know, and greatly appreciate, how difficult it is for so many of you who have been furloughed, laid off or are otherwise unable to earn a paycheck and provide food and other basic needs for your families. Please know that we are all in this together, and collectively we will not allow our fellow citizens to fall into poverty and despair because of this public health crisis.

I will shortly turn the podium over to Dr. Anthony Fauci, who has been appointed the Secretary of the Public Health Administration, the new federal agency we created not only to respond to the current crisis but to ensure, going forward, that our nation (and through the international organizations we have supported and strengthened) and the world will never again suffer another international global pandemic of such devastating scope and severity.

As you know, the Coronavirus Response Task Force that Dr. Fauci has assembled, with my authorization and the unanimous approval of both houses of the Congress, is comprised of over 150 of the nation’s most experienced epidemiologists, infectious disease experts, 6 former Surgeons General of the United States, and the heads of all 50 states’ departments of public health. 

This bipartisan group has been working diligently, at great personal sacrifice, throughout the past weeks, both day and night, formulating concrete and actionable plans to ensure that we put this crisis behind us, safely, and as quickly as possible.

Only through a coordinated, national effort can we hope to conquer a spreading contagion that does not recognize artificial geographic boundaries.

Personally, I thank not only all of the good people, from both sides of the political aisle, who have contributed so much of their time, energy and effort to this cause, but also especially to the so-called “front-line warriors” –- the health care professionals who have literally put their own lives at risk, working with admittedly far inadequate levels of equipment, supplies, and staffing to combat this public health crisis. 

And also to the grocery store clerks and staff, U.S. postal workers, and myriad other essential personnel who show up for work in the midst of this pandemic, to ensure that the rest of us have the benefit of those vital services. 

TODAY’S UNDERWRITER

Lastly, I thank each and every one of you for doing your part – by volunteering, making phone calls, social distancing, wearing masks and taking the other steps that Dr. Fauci and his team have outlined to ensure that both you, and everyone in our community, stays as safe as we can. 

I also applaud Dr. Fauci’s team for establishing the new Health Equity Task Force to ensure we address the underlying health and social inequities that have been laid bare by this pandemic.

Please, hang in there everyone. The folks who have studied these types of viral outbreaks and have worked tirelessly to stem the tide of infections are our best hope for putting this crisis behind us. 

That’s why I have put politics and “business as usual” aside, to allow these knowledgeable highly trained experts call the shots and guide us all out of this terrible mess. And we will get there. 

This is a truly unique time we’re living through, one that compels all of us to come together, not engage in divisive political squabbles. There will be time enough for campaigning, debates and electoral politics, on the other side of this immediate crisis.

Dr. Fauci, the podium is all yours. Thank you, once again, for all of your hard work and your service to our country.


 Steve Zansberg is an attorney in Denver.