There is no way to spin a pandemic.
COVID-19 will probably be Trump’s Chernobyl and Katrina combined. This is a real disaster, not of his own making, that he has, up until now, fatally mismanaged because he tried to use his normal approach to problems, namely: denial, spin and misinformation. Instead of calming people, Trump jinxed the stock market sending it into bear market territory (loss of 20% or more) because people in the corporate world aren’t stupid. They can see what is coming, a real live pandemic like the kind you see in Contagion, the movie, where you leave the theater hoping you don’t ever have to experience this. But we do. And they can also see Trump is horribly mismanaging this crisis.
Because of Trump’s inept approach to problem solving and inability to tell the truth or rely on scientific facts, our country will now experience more deaths than would have occurred with a competent president leading a well run administration. The stock market will continue to be rattled as this pandemic crests.
Trump is and has always been a man who is unable to differentiate between actual reality and his own internal wishful thinking. He remakes reality in his favor and insists his version is true. This pandemic exposes many of Trump’s glaring personal problems and reality distortions that stand to impact our country endangering all of us and directly impacting:
1) The health of Americans and
2) The holy grail of Trump’s re-election campaign- the almighty stock market and the economy
As happened in Russia with the Chernobyl nuclear disaster, Trump has been downplaying the pandemic for many months, failing to tell us the truth, failing to take necessary steps to get reliable testing kits produced, respirators and other medical supplies rushed to the needed hot spots of the growing pandemic and generally not acting fast enough to protect Americans from the spread of the virus or informing us in a unified voice about what we should do to protect ourselves.
China was not immediately honest about the pandemic either, when it took root in that country. It began there in November when the disease was transmitted from a bat that had been slaughtered by a worker who afterwards probably touched his nose and got exposed to the virus. This happened at a “wet meat market” where animals are confined in close quarters which adds to the possibility of spreading novel viruses that jump from animals to humans. At first, the Chinese government downplayed the fact that this new virus was particularly virulent and spreading rapidly from human to human. When a Chinese doctor who had contracted the disease tried to tell the world what was coming, China punished him for being a whistle-blower, forcing him to retract his warning. He died from coronavirus.
Like the Chinese government, Trump originally downplayed the pandemic losing precious time that we should have used to get ready for this war we are now forced to fight along with the rest of the world.
Social distancing does work and work well. It is our first line defense right now.
Trump should have called for that months ago. Instead, Trump himself has continued to shake hands with foreign leaders and others, some who have been exposed and others who have been tested and have learned they are carrying the virus. There were three known infected people at Mar A Lago last weekend who interacted with Trump and other members of this administration. Saturday, Trump claims he got tested. His doctor says he does not have coronavirus. But I have trouble believing any information coming out of this administration. Don’t you? You just wonder if Trump could be the coronavirus version of Typhoid Mary right now, spreading the disease to other people as a super spreader prior to exhibiting symptoms. You can be infected with this and spread it for about 2 -3 days or more before you have hallmark symptoms of cough, fever (in older people it can be a low fever of only about 99 degrees), some people get the runs.
Trump’s cavalier attitude has set our country back compared to other countries fighting this pandemic. South Korea has ample supplies of testing kits to identify people who have contracted COVID-19 because they used the WHO test kits which we originally refused to use, relying instead on the CDC but failing to remove red tape that prevents testing anyone unless insurance payment is verified prior to being tested.
Testing is the key to fighting this disease. Without testing, Americans cannot tell where the community spread is most intense and, consequently, which parts of the country need to “shelter in place”.
Italy is an example of what happens when governments fail to call for social distancing fast enough. The hospitals are overwhelmed with people being triaged in the hallways and in makeshift settings. There is a lack of respirators and other equipment. Because of this, some people get to live while others are left to die.
Health care workers in our country on the front line will soon risk their lives in this battle once it gets exponentially worse, which is expected to happen in the next two weeks. They risk overwork and exposure to the virus themselves. We cannot let our hospitals and our health care workers be overwhelmed like that. We cannot become the next Italy.
Lack of knowledge and truth have created panic in our communities as people run to grocery stores and buy everything they can imagine they might need to survive in the event of a quarantine in their neighborhoods. Not knowing what to do or how fearful they should be has enhanced the panic. This hoarding and stockpiling also happened in Italy at first, but once people realized that the supply of food and other necessities would not be a problem, the hoarding behavior tapered off.
Part of the panic we are experiencing has to do with the lack of credible, fact based information from this administration. Trump disbanded the global health unit that had been set up by the Obama administration after the Ebola epidemic to act as a first alert system. That disasterous decision was part of Trump’s general failed approach to governing which has been to cut and slash government jobs without being thoughtful about it and attack civil servants as part of the so called “deep state”. Across the board, Trump has decimated our government’s core of adept civil servants setting himself up as the only one who knows how to fix anything. His approach to governing has been to rid government of capable people and replace people in key positions with “yes” men who are loyal to him and will not tell him the full truth if it is not good news for him.
Trump’s failure to accept the truth will now be his legacy and one of the fundamental reasons he will go down in history as the worst president we have ever had.
As Trump and other administration officials try to calm worried minds with their platitudes, their words do not quell anxieties because Trump and his administration are known to lie and are facile about being truthful. 16,000 lies and counting from Trump alone! This is a big reason why Trump’s Wednesday night Oval Office speech last week, which did not address the problem our country is facing, caused the stock market to careen into free fall. Once Trump acknowledged that the pandemic is real and that we are in fact in an emergency the market rallied somewhat. The markets are also reacting to the sudden shutdown of many businesses of course. The economic impact is unavoidable. A recession is probably inevitable according to many economists.
Dr. Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, IS trying to tell us the truth. He has contradicted Trump numerous times. Trump says we will soon have a vaccine Fauci has said – no, it will take a year and a half to get a vaccine. Trump has claimed this pandemic will magically disappear in the spring. We don’t know that. Trump said tests are available for everyone who wants them. No they are not. Trump has said this is a “hoax” perpetrated by the Democrats, and that this is like the regular flu, Fauci contradicted him in his testimony in the House. This is not a hoax and it is not like the flu.
Coronavirus, according to Dr. Fauci, looks to be about 10 times more lethal compared to the flu. Much seems to depend on the age of the person contracting the virus with people over 60 being at most risk of having a serious case requiring hospitalization and respiratory help because of lung damage. It is estimated that 70 to 15o million Americans (1/3 0f our country) will contract coronavirus eventually.
We need to make sure huge numbers of people do not flood emergency rooms needing help all at once. This is called “flattening the curve.”
We need to “flatten the curve” using social distancing so that we do not all get sick at the same time, in other words. 20% to 60% of adults in the world are predicted to get COVID-19. Coronavirus carriers may not have any evident symptoms for a number of days before they develop a fever and cough, for example. For that reason people are spreading the virus right now without realizing they are. We are learning that some Coronavirus patients also keep the pathogens in their respiratory tract as long as 37 days after feeling better.
How will this all evolve? It is said we are going to have to learn to live with COVID-19. Eventually we will have drugs to combat some of the symptoms. We will have a vaccine. It is hard to be patient but these weapons to combat the virus are being developed and deployed as fast as possible.
Meanwhile we have to take immediate action to do the opposite of what comes naturally to us as human beings.
We need to stay away from each other even though we are all under great stress and usually we would seek out our friends and family to hug, to talk with to better cope with this kind of stress. Fortunately, we can stay connected in ways that were not possible in the past. We can call each other, use Skype, Zoom, Go to Meeting, connect on Facebook and other social media and stay connected with each other that way.
People will have to cope suddenly with radical lifestyle changes. For example, everything in Italy is closed now except for groceries, gas stations, pharmacies, doctors and banks. Some people are going to work but they are being encouraged not to if they can work from home. Churches are closed. No weddings allowed. You can be fined for violating the rules. And yet in Italy at 6 o’clock every night people are opening their windows and singing together and playing music to connect with each other. People can be resilient. We will get through this.
Doctors and scientists will guide us. Our local governments, governors, mayors and state systems are also doing their best to take charge.
For the most part they are doing a great job, but they still need the federal government to coordinate with them. Government should be providing guidelines and getting everyone on the same page to speak with one unified, fact based, science based voice: a “whole government approach” to fight this war. The federal government should communicate far better with state and local government. In Chicago at O’Hare Airport, people returning from trips abroad on Sunday were backed up in massive crowds because of insufficient staffing to create orderly lines for wellness checks. People were waiting in close quarters with other people directly violating the social distancing mandates. Governor Pritzker tweeted angrily at Trump that the government needs to get its shit together.
In his speech last week, Joe Biden laid out a well-reasoned plan of action based on accurate information about how the government should proceed in this crisis. Biden sounded like a real president. Sanders did a terrific job too. The Dems are leading in this moment of crisis and they are trying to keep it bipartisan while pushing for the protection of Americans. For his part, Trump actually said something nice about Nancy Pelosi. Ok. That’s a start.
The Dems in the House were able to put together a starter package to help Americans get through this crisis: free testing, paid emergency leave, enhanced unemployment benefits. Nancy Pelosi worked with Steve Mnuchin to get that legislation hammered out by leaving Trump out of all negotiations. That is a good model for success. Leave Trump out of it. Now the bill needs Senate approval. The Republicans better do the right thing.
Republicans are to blame for allowing Trump to stay in office. And so is Fox News.
Trump was unfit for office from the very start of his presidency and the GOP knew it. But the GOP and Fox News protected him from the findings of the Mueller Report. Then they protected him from the impeachment that could have rid us of Trump before we faced this pandemic. Trump has fired one competent person after another who would have warned him and provided guidance. He dumbed down the administration more and more until he achieved his goal of being the king of everything who never takes responsibility for anything unless it’s good for HIM.
Now that we are faced with a crisis that will mean life or death for many Americans, we are stuck with an unfit leader who has been incapable of accepting scientific facts and truth if it is outside of his reality bubble, and an administration that at this point cannot administer because it is too afraid to contradict him. Maybe they can change. But I am skeptical.
COVID-19 promises to be the nail in the coffin of Trump’s presidency, something the Mueller Report and impeachment did not accomplish. It may be that Trump’s approval among Republicans still hovers around 45%, but I believe there are far fewer Republicans left in the GOP and that the ones remaining are his core base who will never leave him. Given that, I am surprised his approval ratings aren’t closer to 100%.
If Trump cannot pivot and learn to coordinate with Democrats and state and local governments in this crisis; if he cannot become a unifier instead of a divider, a truth teller instead of being an overly optimistic salesman, an honest messenger instead of trying to keep bad news secret, then the best thing that could happen for all of us would be for Trump to sequester himself whether or not he’s tested positive for COVID-19. Look! Just go play golf for the rest of your benighted and tragic presidency! Do everyone a big favor.