The TRUMP VIRUS
There is perhaps nothing more shocking than the lies Donald Trump and his surrogates on the campaign trail tell about the administration’s disastrous response to the Covid-19 pandemic. The virus has crippled the nation and killed at this writing 230,000 Americans. For the latest in the death toll, check the site of Johns Hopkins University Medicine.
The Covid Disinformation Campaign
On March 26, 2020, Trump said, “Nobody would have ever thought a thing like this could have happened.” But the record shows he was warned repeatedly, first about the generic pandemic threat and then about this specific threat itself. You can watch his string of denials as they happened for yourself.
Trump was handed a pandemic game plan by the Obama national security team titled, “Playbook for Early Response to High-Consequence Emerging Infectious Disease Threats and Biological Incidents.” The Obamas even staged a crisis management exercise as part of the transition. Trump ignored the drill and the plan. Trump disbanded the national security team in place to handle just this kind of crisis. Trump withdrew American epidemiologists already on the ground in China who could have provided early intelligence on the spread of the virus. Trump ignored a 2017 Pentagon report on the impact a pandemic could have on American military readiness.
How do you feel?
Frightened? Anxious? Confused? All of the above? Join the club.
Make no mistake about it. This is the Trump Virus. About the only thing Trump didn’t do is actually create the disease. And no, his January ban on travel from China did not control the crisis. He stopped only direct flights, not flights of Chinese through other countries. We now know the major spread in the northeast came from Europe.
And no, his response in terms of setting national standards, his use of emergency powers to manufacture personal protective equipment and his distribution of PPE across the country was not a success. They were massive failures. His son-in-law and go to man for crisis management, Jared Kushner, actually set up a task force that developed a reasonable PPE distribution plan. Kushner decided not to implement the plan because, at that time, most of the Covid cases where in urban areas which tended to vote for Democrats. This is disgusting.
Trump repeatedly lied to us about the developing crisis, never issuing a general call to action most Americans would have welcomed. He denies it now, but his lies are recorded and cannot be escaped. Trump repeatedly made fun of people who wore masks. He continues to do this this today, even after having caught Covid himself.
If we began wearing masks early on, thousands if not hundreds of thousands of lives could have been saved. The National Center for Disaster Preparedness estimates Trump’s failed response to Covid is responsible for “130,000 – 210,000 Avoidable COVID-19 Deaths – and Counting – in the U.S.”
Trump ADMITTED to author Bob Woodward, with a tape recorder running, that he purposely downplayed the crisis, lying to the American people because he didn’t want to “cause panic.”
Even today Trump falsely says, “We’re rounding the corner” on the virus. Covid cases are up in almost every state and Trump said that on a day when nearly 100,000 new cases were reported. His son Trump, Jr. took a break from following the family tradition of trading in his wife and mother of his children to complain that the media wasn’t reporting that Covid deaths were down to almost nothing. That lie came on a day when more than 1,000 Americans died from the disease. And his daddy followed up the next day by accusing doctors of inflating the number of Covid related deaths because they are paid more money then they get for a non-Covid death.
Probably nothing rises to the level of Trump’s attacks on mask-wearing and the medical professionals who advocate it. Trump makes fun of people wearing masks, encourages super spreader events and stages them himself. A Stanford study links 18 Trump rallies to over 30,000 cases and 700 deaths. And Trump belittled the front line heroes, focusing on Dr. Anthony Fauci. A leader who embraced mask-wearing could have saved lives, and reduced the economic impact when total shutdowns became necessary because of uncontrollable spread.
I created the chart above at the Johns Hopkins site. You can do the same to get updated numbers. You can also get all sorts of Covid statistics there. The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) is historically our go-to site for statistics on medical issues. But in still another shocking move (they never seem to end), Trump administration ideologues have been placed at the CDC and are distorting the scientists’ work, making it a questionable source of information about this crisis.
The chart is is a good way to compare the U.S. Covid response to the response of other countries. Deaths per capita adjusts for the difference in population. And death, rather than cases or positive tests, moves us away from the issue of how many tests are being done and gets to the bottom line. The U.S. is not the worst. But it is far from the best, as Trump repeatedly boasts. Think about it. And remember Trump is giving himself a perfect score for his handling of this crisis.
Finally, consider that the Trumpies argue that these deaths are unavoidable and that the damage to the economy is a bigger problem. So how has the U.S. done in terms of economic performance?
According to the site Our World in Data, maintained by Oxford University, the U.S. economy has done better than some, worse then others with a 9.5% decline (year to year comparison) in GDP for the second quarter of 2020. I’ll let you judge that one for yourself. All I know is: SICK ECONOMIES RECOVER. DEAD PEOPLE DO NOT.