When the coronavirus comes to the Villages, Florida’s renown collection of retirement communities, we will know the truth about whether the Trump Administration and the state are truly prepared for a major health crisis.

Likely not.

Nearly 130,000 residents live in the 17 communities of the Villages, located 45 miles northwest of Orlando. Nearly 60 percent are over the age of 65. Forbes magazine ranks the Villages as among the nation’s best places to retire.

The Villagers love to play and interact, from small gatherings of friends to large social and entertainment events such as concerts. There are scores of venues where residents congregate daily, including neighborhood centers, recreational centers, pools, golf courses, dog parks, fitness trails, billiard rooms, tennis courts,  shuffleboard, bocce…And many merrily ride through the neighborhoods on their golf carts, greeting passerbys.

A perfect setting for a highly contagious virus to gain a foothold and rapidly spread.

When the coronavirus comes, we will know whether Vice President Pence, the Coronavirus Czar, was wise to suggest that Americans are at “low risk,” leaving others on his virus strike team to clean up his words. When they are not shamelessly praising the great leader Trump, that is.

When the coronavirus comes, we will know just how vulnerable are the millions of senior citizens in Florida who have any number of ailments that would reduce their capacity to fight the disease. This will result in proportionally high numbers of severe illnesses and death.

We will know that President Trump is as incompetent, as ego-driven and as unfit as we knew him to be. We will know whether he purposely downplayed the contagion to calm the stock market.

We will know the consequences of gutting federal agencies dedicated to protecting Americans from such outbreaks.

Admittedly, in January Trump restricted travel from countries with significant outbreaks, which bought his administration some time to prepare. Except, he didn’t.

His administration failed, among many other things, to jump start the production of test kits that would have allowed the medical community to quickly identify those carrying the virus.

Otherwise, he has responded predictably.

He has alternately misstated the number of people diagnosed with the virus, compared the virus to the common cold, uttered the word “hoax,” blamed the Democrats for politicizing the issue and smeared the press.

Trump has muzzled medical experts from government health agencies and homeland security from speaking on the issue without White House approval.

He appointed Pence, who disdains science, to oversee America’s response and act as the sole conduit of government information. This is a purely political, authoritarian and dangerous act. When you hear Pence say, “let me make this clear,” be suspicious of whatever follows. He has proved time and again that he simply cannot be trusted.

This is the Trump playbook, after all. Russian interference was and is a hoax, and no one in his administration, including intelligence officials, dare speak of foreign intervention into our elections. Informing Congress of the threat to the 2020 elections will get you fired.

Trump already had a profound problem with credibility. Today only 40 percent of Americans have faith in the honesty of our electoral process, ranking the USA on par with Lithuania and five points behind Hungary, according to a recent Gallup poll Faith in Elections in Relatively Short Supply in US.

So why should we believe him now? In the end, our president is only concerned with the welfare of one American: himself, and how the crisis might affect his re-election.

By contrast, look to the governors and mayors who are taking proactive measures with total transparency. California, New York and Washington stand out. Some states, major cities and large medical centers are exploring the production of their own test kits.

Gov. Ron DeSantis called for the state surgeon general to declare a health emergency. You think?

A sneeze of a coronavirus carrier can infect anyone within six feet. I didn’t learn that from briefings by the Trump Administration or Gov. Ron DeSantis and state health experts.

I learned that from health experts on CNN and MSNBC. Without press and cable news coverage, we would be lost.

When the coronavirus comes to the Villages, the truth shall be known.

-Richard Leonard, Communications Committee