As of Friday, May 8, 2020:
- 14.7% unemployment
- 20.5 million jobs lost in April
- 3.9 Million infected globally
- 270,000 dead
Devastating job loss numbers came out today: 20.5 million jobs were lost in April. Unemployment is the worst since the Great Depression (14.7% now reflecting job loss to mid-April but that jobless number will be higher next month based on the loss of jobs at the end of April). 25% of the jobs are not likely to come back at all because the recovery will not be a return to the normal we knew before. Many Americans will continue to be out of work.
Trump erroneously sees the coronavirus as an economic disaster that threatens his chance for re-election. He is desperate to reopen the economy as soon as possible because he believes that is his only path to re-election. He is urging governors to get businesses up and running fast and get the economy going again. Sure, yeah, there will be death. So be it. The cure cannot be worse than the virus itself, we are told.
He is right that we need to deal with an economic disaster, but what Trump is getting wrong is that this is a HEALTH crisis first and foremost, This health crisis is crushing optimism and to get realistic optimism back, the solution has to focus first on creating genuine health safety for Americans. An alternate universe PR solution will not do the trick.
Trump points to China as the model of quick reopening. But China’s lockdown was much fiercer than ours was. People who tested positive were not allowed to stay with their families while they battled the disease. That harsh policy kept the virus from spreading to other family members. 65% of the newly admitted cases of coronavirus in New York were people who had been on “lockdown”. But for some of us, our idea of lockdown is far less stringent than the Chinese version and our federal government is not setting guidelines that are as clear and as fierce. The Chinese understood that this pandemic is first and foremost a HEALTH crisis that craters the economy unless it is beaten back, so they focused on crushing the virus and now they are able to revitalize their economy.
We want to revitalize our economy too. Everyone wants businesses to re-open. Everyone. But this is about optimism grounded in reality, facts, and science. People have to feel safe or they will not venture back out. If people come back out and the death toll rises, then people will retreat to safety again. If there are too few consumers then business suffers. Many other countries are led by governments that are managing their recoveries far better than we are because they rushed to get a system in place for testing, tracing, tracking and isolating which creates realistic optimism. We have not done that.
The American people did what they were asked to do- stay home. Far more Americans stayed home than were expected to do so given our “give me liberty or give me death” culture. Of course, that cratered the economy. Millions of Americans lost their jobs. The whole idea was to stay home to stop the surge from overwhelming hospitals and health care workers.
While many Americans were and still are staying home, the federal government was supposed to do its part: get testing up and running. That was supposed to be the deal. Once we had massive testing then we could re-open the way other successful countries were doing it.
We did our part, but did Trump do his part? Did he surge the testing? No, he did not. Just as with the onset of the pandemic, when Trump lost 4 to 6 weeks as the virus was bearing down on us, Trump failed to manage, failed to lead, and chooses instead to put his faith in PR alternate reality bullshittery, conartistry, and magical thinking.
There are only two weapons we people on this earth have against this pandemic right now since we have no vaccine or reliable therapeutic treatment yet and don’t know when we will get that- the first is staying home to prevent the spread, and the second is extensive testing, tracing and isolating people who get sick while allowing the rest of us to go about our business. Right now, that is all we got.
If we don’t have massive accurate testing, then we don’t have the second weapon against Covid. And thanks to Trump we have nowhere near enough accurate tests being done to find out who has the virus or find out if people have antibodies, despite Trump’s claims to the contrary. Maybe Trump doesn’t care because the White House has tests galore. He and Pence get tested every day. So what if YOU can’t get tested!
Others will be tested more frequently at the White House because today we learned that two White House staffers- Katie Miller, who is Stephen Miller’s wife, and part of the communications team, and a valet who personally serves Trump –both tested positive for Covid. Then only some of the White House staff said they would isolate for 14 days as they are supposed to based on the administration’s own guidelines. This is because Trump wants Americans to think we are ready to get back to normal NOW.
We also should have trackers to trace and isolate infected victims. If Trump were doing his job, he would have appointed someone by now to create a workforce group like a Peace Corps or Americorps for our country. Think about it – many people who have lost their jobs could get to work. We need 300,000 tracers to track down people who have been exposed.
Naw. Trump is too busy rewriting the history of Russian interference in 2016 to get him elected, with the help of his sidekick, AG Barr. He and Barr are too busy trying to rewrite Michael Flynn’s guilty plea- he pled guilty twice but Barr wants the underlying case withdrawn- a deeply disturbing violation of the rule of law. Trump is busy talking with Putin. Yeah, he did that a few days ago. And he wants to spend thousands of taxpayer dollars to paint the wall at the southern border black so people who try to climb it will get too hot and give up trying to get into our wonderful country. I got news for you, Donald Trump. Nobody!! Nobody!! wants to come into our country anymore. Our country is a shipwreck thanks to you.
Trump should have used the DPA to get companies to surge the reagents, the swabs and other supplies. The president is the ONLY PERSON who has the power to invoke the DPA. He DID invoke it to keep the meat packing plants running. He chooses not to invoke it for testing and he also claims testing is overrated. Why? Trump says the high numbers will “make him look bad” and hurt his chance for re-election.
In other words, Trump doesn’t give a shit if you get sick and die as long as he gets re-elected.
To accomplish this premature reopening and call it a success despite the overwhelming numbers of Americans who are going to die, he will need to have the PR that supports his rosy pronouncements- so he has sent the 17 page CDC guidelines back to the CDC. By all accounts it was a very well written guidebook, very detailed and helpful, spelling out what schools should do and how small businesses should reopen, and what to do if certain things happened in the course of reopening. Trump is depriving the country of these guidelines that businesses and schools need right now as they try to reopen.
To accomplish his PR sleight of hand he also needs to power down the coronavirus task force and get Fauci and Birx out of starring roles and replace them with an economic team front and center to focus on the economy and how great it is going to be if he gets a second term. He is trying to re-purpose the task force with a “safely reopening” tagline. He will try to convince us that everything is getting better no matter the reality.
Epidemiologists are warning us that we are reopening too soon. Some states, some regions, some cities have plateaued, but the numbers are not coming down yet. We were supposed to wait to have 14 days of the numbers of cases and deaths decreasing before we reopen. No state has achieved that yet. In short, areas that are reopening have not followed the guidelines issued by Trump’s own administration. This government has failed to do what is needed to reopen safely despite what Trump tells us. Our coming body count is predicted to be massive because of Trump’s mismanagement. Thousands of Americans will die who did not need to die.
Projections for U.S. deaths: New government models predict that U.S. COVID-19 deaths could hit 3000 a day by June, the New York Times reports. Currently, about 1750 people are dying every day. The models predict 200,000 new cases a day. There are currently about 25,000 new daily cases. (New England Journal of Medicine)
Is Trump committing a form of passive genocide? By failing to act when he KNOWS better- he KNOWS what would save lives, can we conclude that he is willing to see more people of color, Hispanics, prisoners, people who pack meat, and others he could care less about get sick and die? Seriously. What does he care if they aren’t going to vote for him anyhow?
Ah, but here’s the rub. Trump’s failure to act, failure to surge testing, opening up too soon before there is tracing and isolating- all of that is predicted to result in large numbers of deaths of HIS own base of older white low education working class people, HIS voters in rural communities where there are hardly any hospitals with enough staff to save them.
There is some magical thinking in conservative news that the death count is fake news and the coronavirus will not strike down people in Trump country- the evangelicals who love him so and are willing to expose themselves to the virus at rallies, willing to watch Fox News to their detriment, willing to believe that hydrochoroquine will save them and some who are even willing to ingest Lysol because Trump said it was a great idea, these people are squarely in the path of the virus as it moves into the heartland of our country hunting for fresh victims. PR and magical thinking ain’t gonna save anybody.
Some older Americans are catching on to Trump’s alternate reality- reopening the country as deaths continue and trying to pretend it’s all fine. Even now, Trump is trying to end the Affordable Care Act when Americans need it the most. Older Americans are turning against him in large numbers – at this point he is down 20 points with that voting bloc.
Because Trump is failing to recognize that this is a health crisis above all, failing to reopen the country safely, failing to test in high enough numbers, failing to listen to the scientists, we are predicted to get the worst of both worlds- the virus will not abate here while it does in other countries. There will be a failure of testing, tracking and tracing because Trump doesn’t want to “look bad”. We do not know when we will have a safe vaccine and whether it will be effective. The result will be Americans dying in huge numbers that dwarf other well run countries. The result will be a poor economic recovery despite a stock market that is being juiced by the Fed.
I foresee the end of American optimism that Trump’s unrealistic PR efforts will not be able to pretend away.
The only good news? The failure to regain realistic optimism in the United States is likely to result in Trump’s failure to win re-election. Republicans already fear the Senate will flip and given the strong negatives younger voters have for the GOP, the end of Trump could also be the end of the Republican Party.