“Trump doesn’t protect the constitution. He doesn’t protect our soldiers. He doesn’t protect Americans from illness. He doesn’t protect the sanctity of our elections.”
— Donald Trump is anti-American, The Lincoln Project (6/27/20)
By Dan Peak
Commoner Call (6/29/20)
We blew it!
To be clear, Trump willfully put our health and lives at risk for his own personal ambitions. Trump doesn’t even talk about the coronavirus anymore. He will have an excuse this week, the opening quote underscores how he will be fending off questions of why he never responded to Russia offering the Taliban bounties for killing U.S. soldiers. Trump sat on this and instead of confronting Putin invited him to a future G8 meeting. Trump played golf while this broke into public view over the weekend.
Trump has moved on – it’s now Law and Order! And “Transition to Greatness”. Just ignore the coronavirus and those pesky but persistent news stories about his beholding to Putin. And ignore his white supremacist messages as he touts ending protests. And ignore the growing tally of coronavirus dead.
But we all deserve some credit for our failure, just some more than others. All the hard work to flatten the curve and we failed and somehow we’ll have to do it again.
New York, Illinois, Michigan and Massachusetts did flatten the curve. It is now the states, some of which opined, “we’re not New York”, that are hurting after either not closing or reopening too soon. But the Coronavirus spreads, and as new hotspots develop, we repeat the cycle.
What does failure look like? 130,000 people in the United States died in less than four months from the coronavirus. When the coronavirus was spreading cities like New York City responded with lockdowns in March. By April even with lockdowns in major hotspots we were seeing days with more than 30,000 new cases and 2,000 deaths. May was better, June was better yet again as new cases dropped to 20,000 a day and we were beginning to flatten the curve.
But now we are seeing over 40,000 new cases daily. While we in the US continue to argue and politicize the pandemic, the rest of the world sees our failure as Canada restricts access for Americans and Europe is considering blocking travel from the U.S. The pandemic has ripped off the band-aids of our failed politics underscored by Trump’s autocratic reign in the White House.
Vice President Mike Pence, Trump’s choice to head the Coronavirus Task Force failed us. The number of new cases and the failure to contain built to a moment on Friday when Pence and the Task Force decided it necessary to address the country after weeks of going absent. Trump had stopped the briefings and instead invested his efforts into jetting into hotspots like Tulsa, Oklahoma and Phoenix, Arizona for political rallies. Political rallies that modeled NO precautions for spread of the virus even as eight of his advance team to Tulsa tested positive resulting in the quarantine of numbers of Secret Service and even his campaign manager Brad Parscale.
An important snapshot of Trump’s willful disregard for the wellbeing of the public: Trump campaign volunteers removed thousands of social distancing stickers from seating in the Tulsa arena before the arena opened. The arena attempted to provide a safer environment by placing “Do Not Sit Here, Please!” stickers on seating to enforce social distancing. But Trump wanted a jam-packed, raucous crowd; he was expecting as many as a million attendees, outdoor overflow areas were created for the mass crowd expected for a facility that could house less than 20,000 attendees. Final official counts – a few more than 6,000 attendees – but the point was that no Coronavirus health precautions would be visible – by design. And Trump wants the same thing for his August national convention now planned for another hotspot in Florida.
But back to Pence who used his Task Force time to oh-so-thoughtfully explain that we’re Winning. Which would ne news to ANYONE paying attention. If you think I’m overstating, Pence offered, “The reality is we’re in a much better place.” No, we’re NOT in a better place, that’s a lie.
Things Pence did not mention – any empathy for the human cost of the coronavirus or any encouragement to wear a mask.
Hospital realities & multiple federal failures
Governors who dismissed the risk failed us given the rampant outbreaks in Arizona, Florida and Texas. Texas and Arizona are now struggling with the number of hospitalizations. Texas is on a 16-day run of record hospitalizations. You want to hear what this means for someone going to a hospital for care? Listen to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow’s interview with former director of the Arizona Department of Health Services Will Humble as he explains what happens to someone requiring medical care when the hospital is full. And consider that rural hospitals have very few resources for acute care — when everyone is relatively healthy, you can’t afford expensive resources that sit idle. And then a crushing pandemic hits…
The federal Center for Disease Control and Director Robert Redfield failed us. The Food and Drug Adminstration failed us. We quickly learned our CDC Coronavirus tests were flawed. The FDA allowed shipments of flawed antibody tests. It took three months to take the tests off the market. If not for the news about Russian bounties to kill U.S. troops, this might have been the big story for the weekend.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar — even worse than Redfield — sticks to the fraudulent Trump-Pence defense that we’re winning with a storyline about increased testing driving the increases in coronavirus cases. I’ll come back to this next, but watch Azar on Meet the Press on Sunday morning talking around the fact that Trump is modeling all the WRONG behavior for combatting coronavirus. Host Chuck Todd pointed out that “When he (Trump) doesn’t do it (wear a mask), his people don’t listen”. Azar’s answer sounds like ‘Trump is great’ to my tin ears, so listen for yourself.
Back to HHS Secretary Azar, I remind everyone in my best Sam Knnison voice: “MORE TESTING DOESN’T LEAD TO MORE HOSPITALIZATIONS!!”. More testing does not lead to increased deaths – science and facts say that. More social contact without precautions lead to more cases which lead to more hospitalizations which lead to more deaths. Stop the lying.
Deadly right wing media failure
Fox News deserves credit for the U.S. coronavirus failure and earned this headline: The data is in: Fox News may have kept millions from taking the coronavirus threat seriously.
“Those who relied on mainstream sources — the network evening newscasts or national newspapers that President Trump constantly blasts as “fake news” — got an accurate assessment of the pandemic’s risks. Those were the news consumers who were more likely to respond accordingly, protecting themselves and others against the disease that has now killed more than 123,000 in the United States with no end in sight.
“Those who relied on Fox or, say, radio personality Rush Limbaugh, came to believe that vitamin C was a possible remedy, that the Chinese government created the virus in a lab, and that government health agencies were exaggerating the dangers in the hopes of damaging Trump politically, a survey showed.”
Young people and healthy people can either be part of the problem or part of the solution. An attitude that being healthy means you are not part of the problem ignores pre-symptomotic and asymptomatic infections. The CDC now says the number or infections is likely ten times greater than what has been confirmed, but this still puts us far from herd immunity – 2-7% estimate for U.S. cases versus 70% required for herd immunity. Asymptomatic persons can act as superspreaders, exposing other persons of higher risk to the Coronavirus.
We also see that new cases are impacting younger people; think reopening behavior:
“The current surge of coronavirus infections has shifted, strikingly, to younger adults. In Florida, the median age of those infected has dropped from 65 to 35. People between 20 and 44 make up almost half of new covid-19 cases in Arizona. In parts of Texas, the majority of new infections are in people under the age of 30.”
Forty-three percent of Coronavirus deaths are linked to nursing homes. But a healthy person can spread the Coronavirus to family, friends, neighbors as nursing homes are beginning to reopen to visits. To hear some explanations it also comes across as if the death of older persons is somehow not important, like they don’t count.
One final point, rural hotspots are not just meatpacking plants and prisons — lack of social precautions are spreading the problem — new hotspot Hot Springs, Arkansas health officer Dr. Gene Shelby, says, “I think we’re getting out too much and people aren’t doing the social distancing. Some people just don’t take the seriousness of this.”
The New York Times has done an excellent graphical representation of ‘How the Virus Won’. It clearly explains how we can either Win or Continue to Lose. It’s a choice.
We all need to do our part to ensure our collective wellbeing during a pandemic. Freedom only works with responsibility.