“I find our testing record nothing to celebrate whatsoever.”
— Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) criticizing Trump lack of virus testing (5/12/20)
“We are running out of time to save lives.”
— Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA), senate hearing (5/12/20)
By Dan Peak
The Commoner Call (5/14/20)
Dear Fellow Readers,
What is the goal of coronavirus testing? It’s about limiting the spread and saving lives.
The number of tests you promise for some future date is not a solution; the damning conclusion of Trump’s failure is that the US represents 4% of the global population but continues to represent one-third of confirmed cases and one-fourth of all coronavirus deaths.
Trump coronavirus lies are like all of his other lies: belief requires a lack of inquisitiveness, or regular shots of the White House Kool Aid. This week Trump presented himself framed by his own version of Bush’s ill-conceived ‘Mission Accomplished’ banners following his invasion of Iraq. To be clear, Trump does not lead the world in testing. In fact, we have been criminally late to both begin testing and have testing accessible in the numbers required to reopen safely. No matter how many self-congratulatory banners he flies…
Trump failed to react to pandemic warnings. One of clearest indications of his failure is lack of testing for the virus. The best explanation of Trump’s failure was offered by Sen. Mitt Romney (R-UT) during Tuesday Senate committee hearings with Dr. Anthony Fauci and other public health care leaders representing the administration’s coronavirus defense. Romney made a clear and simple case that Trump’s response was late and insufficient. In a nutshell, Trump treaded water in February and March while South Korea acted quickly. See the entirety of his remarks here.
South Korea had one new coronavirus death Tuesday. The US is averaging close to 2,000 per day. You wisely react to this by noting that South Korea has only 51 million residents. Okay, consider Iceland’s rate of testing is 6 times higher than the US at 156 tests for every 1,000 persons compared to Trump’s 26 tests per 1,000. There is no case Trump can make for success – banners, yes — success no.
The US is not leading in testing for coronavirus. A number of countries tested earlier and more effectively and as a result have suffered fewer cases and deaths by any measure. By comparison Trump denied and dithered because he didn’t want to undermine his reelection message. Trump won’t wear a mask because he believes it makes him look weak but Trump’s coronavirus pandemic response confirms he is criminally self-interested, incapable … and weak.
Needless suffering & death
As I said above, Dr. Anthony Fauci, Food and Drug Administration commissioner Stephen Hahn, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention Robert Redfield and Trump testing czar Brett Giroir testified before a Senate committee on Tuesday. Most questions were directed to Fauci and his remarks were of most import.
Fauci cautioned against reopening quickly. Aggressive reopening could lead to “needless suffering and death”.
“If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to: ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.”
Fauci made a number of important remarks, most challenging false information conveyed by Trump. Fauci says the coronavirus death toll is “likely higher” than the official count of 84,000 (Wednesday mid-day). This is in direct conflict with Trump and Trumpsters that want you to believe the count is exaggerated.
In direct response to an attack on Fauci by Sen. Rand Paul (R-KY), Fauci warned:
“…we really better be very careful, particularly when it comes to children, because the more and more we learn, we’re seeing things about what this virus can do that we didn’t see from the studies in China or in Europe — for example, right now children presenting with covid-19 who actually have a very strange inflammatory syndrome, . I think we better be careful if we are not cavalier in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects.”
Paul is the same Senator who dined with fellow GOP Senators and swam in the senate gym swimming pool while awaiting the result of his COVID-19 test, which turned out positive. You might imagine Paul would have learned something from his personal assertion of ‘Freedom’ while placing others — his colleagues — at risk, but you’d be wrong. Here is the C-Span exchange.
I recommend the 5-minute lines of questioning from both Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-MA) and Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) as well. The full Senate session can be linked to here.
As mentioned above, it was Sanders’ comments that led Fauci to state that COVID-19 deaths are underreported. Warren’s questioning had Fauci warning that without testing we’ll see infection resurgence in the fall. Warren said, “The president needs to stop pretending that if he ignores the evidence, it will go away. It won’t. … The time for magical thinking is over. We are running out of time to save lives.”
Fauci was frank and forthcoming. By contrast, the Centrs Fro Disease Control was non-committal on when we should expect detailed guidelines for how to safely reopen. While Trump is pushing for aggressive reopening, the CDC is dithering — or worse — over how to do it.
In contrast to Trump’s assertion last week that the “virus would die out of it’s own accord”, Fauci explained, “That is just not going to happen. It’s a highly transmissible virus. It is likely there will be virus somewhere on this planet that will likely get back to us.”
COVID-19 will not just magically go away. Trump conflates ‘freedom’ with a message to relax state restrictions. Grant your people freedom he proclaims. And on cue, Texas Gov. Abbott (R-TX) ‘threatens’ Austin and San Antonio if those cities restrict reopening.
But you know who is being cautious? Half of people polled (50%) say it will not be safe to relax restrictions before “later in 2020… or longer”. Another 30% are split between the end of June or the end of July. Only 9% feel that “gatherings are now safe”.
Yet it is easy to watch or read about the demonstrations to remove restrictions now, but this poll suggests, as many of us imagined, the demonstrators are just a loud minority. There are legitimate reasons to reopen safely but guns and Confederate flags and even Nazi imagery and slogans carry a different message. As I opened with my last edition…
Freedom only works if it is paired with responsibility!
The more important note with protests is some are putting people at risk or even killing people. It may seem alarmist to accuse a protest of killing someone, but it happened in London:
“Belly Mujinga, 47 (a railway ticket officer), was on the concourse of Victoria station in London on March 22 when a member of the public who said he had Covid-19 spat and coughed at her and a colleague.
“Within days of the assault, both women fell ill with the virus.”
She was admitted to the hospital on April 2, a week after the incident, and died April 5.
A second report was not so much a protest, but still an avoidable death. A bus driver in Detroit died days after complaining “about a coughing passenger”. If we all wore masks Jason Hargrove may not have died.
Too often these are the protest images we see.
“Armed members of the Michigan Home Guard stood outside Karl Manke’s barbershop, ready to blockade the door if police arrived. They were determined to help Manke, 77, reopen his shop Monday, in defiance of state orders, and dozens joined them, wearing Trump sweatshirts and Trump cowboy hats and waving Trump flags.”
Whistling past the graveyards
Republicans have a creative reaction to Covid-19 testing: If the testing results are inconvenient, simply stop reporting the results.
Gov. Ron DeSantis’ (R-FL) has worked to keep some test results hidden, such as which elder-care facilities were reporting confirmed coronavirus cases. More recently Gov. Pete Ricketts (R-NE) deferring to the corporations operating the meatpacking plants to not report on confirmed cases in the epicenters of the virus spread in Nebraska hotpots.
Meatpacking plants and the spread of coronavirus are one of the most significant risks to rural states.
“Of the 30 counties in the United States with the highest per capita prevalence of the coronavirus last week, 10 are home to major meatpacking plants.
“Of those 30 counties, four are in Nebraska.”
Ricketts has not reported on these outbreaks for a week and accuses people that have tested positive of lying about where they work. At his recommendation, local health departments are withholding case counts waiting for permission from the meatpacking plant operators, which Ricketts said are up to the plants. To be clear, the number of confirmed cases is being reported but not how the specific plants linked to the cases. Your local community asfety be damned.
Senior White House adviser Jared Kushner raised eyebrows Tuesday by suggesting that there was uncertainty about whether the presidential election would happen in November as scheduled because of the pandemic and that he had some role in making that determination.
Hours after his remarks to generated a strong reaction on social media, Kushner, President Trump’s son-in-law, issued a clarification,
saying he was unaware of and not involved in any “discussions” about changing the date of the 2020 election. Neither Trump nor Kushner as his adviser has any legal authority to change the timing of the presidential election.
As Trump personal attorney and attorney general William Barr demonstrates in the background of a pandemic, there is no crisis that can’t be politicized to GOP advantage.
I will open and close with Fauci. Fauci cautions over an apparent ‘case downturn’ by underscoring that absent the downward curve for New York, the spread of COVID-19 in other parts of the US is on the rise. Fauci paints a mixed picture – he is optimistic that there can be a vaccine that builds individual immunity and there is evidence that people recovering have some immunity, but that is in the future, the rate of testing suggests we may be experiencing life as we know it into the Fall with implications for schooling and many other aspects of life.
The world may never get back to what it considered “normal” before the coronavirus emerged … Fauci said at a White House press briefing Monday.
Gradually, we’ll be able to “function as a society. But you’re absolutely right, if you want to get to pre-coronavirus, that might not ever happen in the sense that the threat is there.”
Stay Safe. Be Well.