“Like his most recent Republican predecessor, President Trump ignored intelligence reports—which he never reads anyway—and it has cost us dearly.”
— Jack Holmes, Esquire magazine (4/28/20)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (4/30/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
Trump and COVID-19 – how many ways can you say shit-show? We have passed two milestones – over one million US confirmed cases and over 60,000 US deaths. More Americans have died in two months than the 58,200 Americans who died during two decades of war in Vietnam.
For this, Trump gives himself a ten-out-of-ten mark while telling us ‘nobody’ could have foreseen the coronavirus. A month ago Trump was telling us, “I would view it as something that just surprised the whole world…uncharted territory…Nobody knew there would be a pandemic or epidemic of this proportion.”
To believe Trump we have to ignore the pandemic briefing and risk warnings he received from Obama during the transition. We have to ignore the cautionary statements Bill Gates has been offering since 2015. Likely we have to ignore many critical remarks made by Trump when the Obama administration was responding to the Ebola virus outbreak. We know Trump did ignore all warnings of risk prior to COVID-19 and cut the CDC budget and cutting US resources to monitor potential global outbreaks or risks of a pandemic. Trumpsters will mouth the repetitive mantras of denial, but here is…
The Smoking Gun
President’s intelligence briefing book repeatedly cited virus threat
“U.S. intelligence agencies issued warnings about the novel in more than a dozen classified briefings prepared for President Trump in January and February, months during which he continued to play down the threat, according to current and former U.S. officials.”
The intelligence reports Trump was ignoring weren’t hypotheticals – he was repeatedly being briefed for weeks on facts about the global spread of the virus. FOR WEEKS.
Trump lied on Feb. 26 when he claim the virus, “within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero.”
Trump lied on March 2 when he told a Trump rally in North Carolina, “confidence is surging.”
Trump lied on March 10 when he told us, “Just stay calm. It will go away.” The next day the World health Organization declared the coronavirus outbreak a pandemic.
Esquire writer Jack Holmes reminds us what we have heard many times, Trump does not read. Staff preparing the National Security Council briefings were told, “thin it out” and “this is still too much”. Give him pictures.
“Everything that needs to be conveyed to the President must be boiled down, the former staffer said, to “two or three points, with the syntactical complexity of ‘See Jane run.’”
Trump doing the same thing with COVID-19 daily task force briefings – he skips the prep sessions, does not read his briefing and strolls out to read his remarks for the first time in a monotone drone — Sharpie in hand — to edit on the fly.
Trump told us he takes no responsibility, He told us he was just a cheerleader.
But Noam Chomsky does a better job of summarizing:
“Trump has indeed hit America with a hammer blow — and much of the world as well, a matter we should not overlook. Just keeping to the current COVID-19 crisis, it is remarkable to see how little attention has been given to his sadistic assault against poor and suffering people around the world in pursuit of his goal of enhancing his electoral prospects.”
Trump’s criminal self-absorption and ignorance has cost us dearly. And the count of how dearly could be 50% higher based on undercounting – that would bring us closer to :
100,000 US COVID-19 deaths – “Spiking Death Rates Suggest Pandemic Toll Is Undercounted”
In our backyard
Sad to say, the Wisconsin story of JBS Packerland and two other meat packing plants near Green Bay highlight a number of COVID-19 questions about risk in the food processing chain.
“But on April 28, Trump an executive order calling on meat-processing plants to remain open, declaring them critical infrastructure.
“At a time when Trump is focused on reopening the economy, communities like Green Bay are still struggling to get the virus under control. In a week, cases in Brown County increased by 1,000 percent to surpass 500, according to the .”
The number of cases is now approaching 1,000.
But while Trump would not use an emergency response provision, the Defense Production Act, to build ventilators or secure necessary equipment for frontline medical staff, he did cite executive authority to announce that meat is part of our “critical infrastructure” and must remain open.
But is it safe?
“…the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Occupational Safety and Health Administration calling for physical distancing and other measures to keep workers safe. But the guidelines are voluntary, and food safety and labor advocates said they feared that meat companies would not follow them.
“‘Using executive power to force people back on the job without proper protections is wrong and dangerous,” Richard Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O., , saying he echoed calls by the food workers’ union “to put worker safety first.’”
Voluntary. If that doesn’t raise some concern, consider this as well:
“In addition to the action, which was taken under the Defense Production Act, a Korean War-era law, the Labor Department and OSHA issued guidance that would provide additional liability protections for companies seeking to operate amid the risk of outbreaks.”
Worker safety – voluntary guidelines. Employer liability if worker safety is NOT followed – don’t worry, the companies are protected. Remember, if workers don’t show up for work that can be treated as a resignation and the worker no longer qualifies for unemployment benefits. Will this happen: Meat plant workers to Trump: Employees aren’t going to show up.
“All I know is, this is crazy to me, because I can’t see all these people going back into work,” said Donald, who works at Tyson’s Waterloo, Iowa, facility.
“I don’t think people are going to go back in there.”
Donald asked to be referred to by his first name only. He is currently recovering after testing positive for the virus.
Some positive COVID-19 news
“A new to check whether someone has been infected with coronavirus, and said to be 99 per cent accurate, has been certified for use across Europe…Antibody testing is crucial to helping identify patients who have had the coronavirus infection and have developed immunity as this will allow them to return to work and could be crucial for NHS workers and people in other key roles.”
Oxford University has taken an early lead with some positive indications of a COVID-19 vaccine – there are many ‘ifs’ but:
“The Oxford scientists now say that with an emergency approval from regulators, the first few million doses of their vaccine could be available by September — at least several months ahead of any of the other announced efforts — if it proves to be effective.”
And a cautionary tale:
I cannot fathom how FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn says of COVID-19 antibody tests, “people should be very cautious” even while “allowing more than 90 on the market without peer review, including some marketed fraudulently and of dubious quality, according to testing experts and the agency itself.”
This is maddening – do I buy and administer a test carrying an FDA approval or do I wait after reading the fine print noting ‘dubious’ quality?
Note: An effective antibody test is not a test for current infection. Also note: “the World Health Organization, that even high-quality antibody tests can prove someone has immunity from the novel coronavirus and is not at risk of being reinfected.” (An excellent explanation and caution about antibodies and immunity is here.)
So Trump has failed to deliver on promises of effective and accessible testing for the presence of the virus – and now has delivered antibody testing that is ‘dubious’. The director of infectious disease programs at the Association of Public Health Laboratories, Kelly Wroblewski, has been urging the FDA to take a closer look at the unapproved tests. “Having many inaccurate tests is worse than having no tests at all.”
We are still learning about COVID-19 treatment. This is worth repeating as one reader missed this in the last edition.
“COVID-19 can cause a person’s blood to thicken, doctors say. This manifestation of the infection may be causing strokes and other circulatory problems in patients whose symptoms are mild otherwise.”
Add this to a list of possible COVID-19 symptoms to watch for:
A frostbite-like rash on people’s toes is harmless – but testing shows “that many of those patients had tested positive for COVID-19.”
Trump in the lead
Trump owns one-third of all global COVID-19 cases, roughly one million out of three million: one-third. More than 60,000 Americans have died — maybe as many as 100,000, and more will die. Dr. Anthony Fauci warns “a second wave of infections is “inevitable.”” Voters believe Fauci, not Trump – “79 percent expect a second surge.”
We’re smarter than Trump. 79% of us refuse to throw caution to the wind and ignore social distancing (73% say this should continue) and while he promises the testing he’s failed to deliver to date and “Warp Speed” for a vaccine there is low confidence he will deliver – though it appears others are.
We’ve accepted the fact that Trump is a liar and a shitty cheerleader – the cautions and positive signs we’re buying into suggest we’re confident we’ll ‘get there’ — just don’t pay attention to Trump’s shit-shows.
Finally, some kinda’ sorta’ humor – VP Pence rejected wearing a ‘mandatory’ mask while touring Mayo “because he wanted to look people in the eye.”
(Commoner Call cartoon by Mark L. Taylor, 2020. Open source and free for non-derivative use with link toe www.thecommonercall.org )