Heartbreaking and enraging; 2020 has been a nightmarish year not only for America's politics but also for America's health and well-being. Director Alex Gibney (Citizen K and Zero Days) refocuses our attention to effectively detail how our country got to this destructive point, with 230,000 (and counting) American lives lost.
In Totally Under Control, Filmmaker Alex Gibney scrutinizes the U.S. response to the pandemic compared with South Korea. Both countries discovered their first case of Covid-19 on January 20th, 2020. Since then, the novel coronavirus has claimed over 200,000 Americans lives, while only claiming a little over 400 lives in South Korea. South Korea has a population of 51 million people. So, why did the US do such a terrible job on their handling of COVID? Gibney talks with numerous doctors, health experts, and scientists throughout the documentary explaining why we failed, starting at the top and with our leader of the free world. One of those doctors we talk with is Dr. Rick Bright — an American immunologist, vaccine researcher, and former director of the Biomedical Advanced Research and Development Authority (BARDA) from 2016 to 2020. In May 2020, Dr. Bright filed a whistleblower complaint, alleging that the Trump administration ignored his early warnings about the COVID-19 pandemic. After doing so, he was ousted from his position in retaliation from the Trump administration.
As President Truman once said, "The buck stops here." Yet, that line does not apply to the Trump administration. We all know that COVID was not Trump's fault, but it's his lack of leadership that has failed this country and left the American people in the dark — scared for their well-being and livelihood. While other countries (South Korea and New Zealand) have strategically and effectively led their people through this pandemic transparently, the U.S. has squandered at every turn. Even countries like Canada and Germany have done a pretty good job overall. Still, they are starting to see more recent COVID spikes, but Prime Minister Justin Trudeau and Chancellor Angela Merkel both have been open with their people, letting the doctors and scientists lead. Gibney along, with co-directors Ophelia Harutyunyan and Suzanne Hillinger, avoid taking cheap shots or personal ambushes throughout the documentary. Instead, they let the timeline speak for itself, with the doctors and the scientists guiding us through it.
Totally Under Control takes an in-depth look at how the United States government handled the response to the COVID-19 outbreak during the early months of the pandemic — we have 4% of the world's population and 20% of the worldwide COVID deaths. It did not have to be this way. The Trump Administration's disastrous response to the coronavirus pandemic has led from anywhere between 130,000 to 210,000 deaths that could have been prevented, according to a report released on October 21st by a team of disaster preparedness experts. It's a sad and infuriating report, demonstrating the cost of having a narcissistic former reality TV star in charge, who has been ignoring basic science and health advice for a slight uptick in the stock market. Right now, universal mask-wearing in public could significantly reduce the number of Americans who die from COVID by February 2021; a study published in the journal Nature Medicine projects — suggesting we could save 130,000 American lives. During the documentary, we see South Korea's response on controlling the virus was rapid and efficient. Their government mandated universal mask-wearing, nationwide testing, contact-tracing, and mitigation all throughout February. While the US was slow to respond, letting the virus spread rapidly throughout our country without a strategic nationwide testing policy in place.
Trump downplayed the seriousness of this virus and continues to do so to this day. Making statements like, "It's one person coming in from China, and we have it under control" (01/22), "A lot of people think that [the coronavirus] goes away in April with the heat ... Typically, that will go away in April" (02/10), "It's going to disappear. One day — it's like a miracle — it will disappear" (02/27), "the vast majority of Americans, the risk is very, very low" (03/11), "You can do it. You don't have to do it. I'm choosing not to do it, but some people may want to do it, and that's OK. It may be good. Probably will. They're making a recommendation. It's only a recommendation" (on mask-wearing, 04/03), "When we have a lot of cases, I don't look at that as a bad thing" ... "So, I view it as a badge of honor. Really, it's a badge of honor" (05/19, days later, the U.S. recorded 100,000 known deaths from COVID), "Many of those cases are young people that would heal in a day" (07/19), and "Take your hat off to the young because they have a hell of an immune system. It affects virtually nobody" (09/21, twelve days later Trump would test positive for COVID). Along with Trump's falsehoods, Gibney studies, and analyses the CDC's initial botch to implementing testing in February, the administration's slowness in declaring the Defense Production Act (to direct industries to produce medical equipment) not until mid-March, United States Secretary of Health and Human Services Alex Azar's complacency, and Senior Advisor Jared Kushner's botched attempt at setting up a "shadow task force" with dozens of young volunteers from the private sector; searching for medical supplies and protective equipment.
On top of that, you see the falsehoods pushed towards Hydroxychloroquine and chloroquine, a 2018 budget cut eliminating the pandemic task force, the U.S.'s stockpile in Medical supply depleted, and our governor's left to fend for themselves in an all-out bidding war for Medical supplies — FEMA was even in on the bids. When Trump faced criticism for not doing enough to help out the states as the Federal government should, he quickly turned the tables back on them. By doing so, he made this a red state, blue state scenario — leaving our governors hung out to dry, and the more they criticized the less they would receive in help. This was a smart way for Trump to point the finger in the other direction without having to take responsibility. The tragedy of COVID in the U.S. is not only the countless American lives lost but also the retaliation from the Trump administration towards our health and scientific communities. This discourse and disinformation towards them are completely uncalled for. We need to trust our doctors and scientists, listen to the facts, and follow the science. Please continue to listen to people like Dr. Bright and Dr. Anthony Fauci — Director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, since 1984. Dr. Fauci has worked 5 decades for Presidents of both parties (Republican and Democrat). Now, Trump has even decided to attack our nation's Top Infectious Diseases expert (Dr. Fauci). This Tuesday cannot come soon enough. Hopefully, our nation will rally together and vote this former reality TV star out.
Totally Under Control is Not Rated (NR).
Watch this documentary only on Hulu
Directed by Alex Gibney, Ophelia Harutyunyan, and Suzanne Hillinger
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