Even the most responsible viewpoints on the U.S. response to COVID-19 are driven by relatively few facts that we know for sure and shaped by diligent – if hardly foolproof – analysis of how the future may unfold. Other commentators are “informed” by rumors and internet “comment section” science.

So, let’s get some facts straight before we choose our next commander-in-chief.

1. COVID-19 was introduced – perhaps deliberately, perhaps innocently – into the U.S. via Communist China. Upon finding the virus had entered its own population, Chinese authorities immediately banned travel within their own borders, but allowed international travel to continue unabated. Unsurprisingly, the virus quickly spread worldwide.

2. The federal government is responsible for overall pandemic planning, but individual states execute the response, in accordance with our federalist system of government. Some states such as South Dakota responded effectively, while others such as New York failed miserably with a crazy-quilt of on-and-off mandates and decrees from the governor’s and mayor’s offices. Thousands of elderly COVID-positive New Yorkers were ordered – forced! – to remain in COVID-infested nursing homes to die without seeing their families again. This was an abysmal failure of both state and city Democratic governance; President Trump has said as much, but Joe Biden is silent on the topic.

3. On Aug. 26, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention reported that only 6% of the 153,504 deaths recorded by that time could be traced solely and conclusively to COVID-19. The other 94% of the dead exhibited “co-morbidities,” or other serious illnesses that could have been strong contributing factors. This unexpected yet empirical evidence indicates that the World Health Organization and other “scientific authorities” – generating scare headlines and starring on TV with their predictions of millions of dead Americans – were wrong all along. So where, exactly, was the “expert medical guidance” that President Trump needed? He did not order the ill-fated stop-and-go lockdowns that resulted in millions of lost jobs, dealing a body-blow to small businesses and families. Those decisions continue to be made by your state, city and local politicians.

4. Joe Biden began by labeling as “xenophobic” the president’s nearly instantaneous ban on travel from China to the US. Biden has since recanted, under pressure from embarrassed Democrats. Biden and the Obama administration might have known better, given their own bungled response to the H1N1 swine flu pandemic of 2009. On May 4, the left-leaning Politico published an article titled, “Biden Has Fought a Pandemic Before. It Did Not Go Smoothly.” This in-depth piece documented a grim series of self-inflicted blunders, including “vaccine shortfalls, fights over funding and contradictory messaging.” Ron Klain, Vice President Biden’s chief of staff at the time, was quoted as saying: “It had nothing to do with us doing anything right. It just had to do with luck.”

Facts are facts. And past performance being the only bias-free measure of competency, I will take President Trump’s rapid response to COVID-19 any day, over Joe Biden’s “luck.”

James R. Poplar III, of Quicksburg, served with the U.S. government for over 40 years. He specialized in national security affairs at both Vanderbilt and the National Defense University.