“I think the president is handling it in a good way,” Hollywood actor Dennis Quaid said of President Donald Trump’s handling of the ongoing coronavirus pandemic. “We see him on television every day, he’s involved, and the travel ban early on was a great idea—which he did in spite of protest about that.”
In a broad-ranging interview published Wednesday, the “Midway” star went on to tell The Daily Beast’s Marlow Stern the president is working to get state governors the supplies they need to fight COVID-19 while also “trying to hold our economy together and be prepared for when this is all over.”
“I don’t want to get into petty arguments about it,” Quaid continued after some pushback from the reporter Trump’s performance. “There’s a lot of talk about how South Korea handled the crisis, and the thing about South Korea is they’re still in a state of war with North Korea and are always on the alert for all kinds of threats — nuclear threats, biological threats — so I would imagine that had something to do with how quickly they were able to respond to it.”
South Korea’s robust response to the virus has been referred to as the international gold standard, as the country was testing between 10,000 and 20,000 people per day at the peak of infection. While many in the media have praised the Korean response — and Trump sought help from the nation’s leaders — it’s important to acknowledge the country also implemented mass surveillance that would not be embraced (or really even possible) in the U.S.
For example, the government was able to track citizens’ every move as well as access their credit card records, mobile phone GPS data, and bank records.
Stern argued the U.S. failed to take swift action in response to the crisis. Quaid, though, argued otherwise.
“As soon as we found out what the threat was … China wasn’t really revealing to the rest of the world what was going on,” he said. “Five million people, I heard, had fled the Wuhan province before they had quarantined it, and were all over the world and allowed to come to this country. There was no warning whatsoever. The virus probably started back in November, and we didn’t learn about it until January.”
The 65-year-old celebrity also praised the president for his decision to shut down travel from China in January and Europe soon thereafter — a move, Quaid said, that resulted in Trump being “castigated” by members of Congress who called the decision “racist.”
Ultimately, Quaid encouraged unity during the pandemic.
“You know, the world has never experienced this, and I don’t think it’s a time to be political,” he told Stern. “I think it’s just time to get behind our government and have everybody do what they can. If you want to point blame after, that’s another story, but right now I think we all just really need to come together on this.”
The comments from Quaid were published the same week actor Tracy Morgan encouraged people not to place blame on Trump right now, because this situation would be “difficult” for any president to handle.
“We all gotta pull together as people,” he said during an appearance on NBC’s “Today.” “Now’s not the time for blame and all of these other things and anger. It’s here now. We gotta just be together.”
Quaid is the host of the new podcast “The Dennissance,” during which the actor will chat with fellow celebrities, like Billy Ray Cyrus, Lance Armstrong, Billy Bush, and more.