One factor keeping Americans from grasping the magnitude of the COVID-19 pandemic is that outside the viral hot spots so few know anyone who has caught the disease or died from it. Here in this county of 260, 000, we knew three afflicted in March at a time there were only 40 cases on record. How is that possible? They were never tested despite the now-classic symptoms. Tests were being rationed and the one man and two women did not qualify.
They recovered at home in time. In New York City, many never lived to make it to the hospital. Many of them were never tested either.
As valiantly as local officials struggle to save lives, the nation’s non-response has been a national disgrace (Washington Post):
Six months after the coronavirus appeared in America, the nation has failed spectacularly to contain it. The country’s ineffective response has shocked observers around the planet.
Many countries have rigorously driven infection rates nearly to zero. In the United States, coronavirus transmission is out of control. The national response is fragmented, shot through with political rancor and culture-war divisiveness. Testing shortcomings that revealed themselves in March have become acute in July, with week-long waits for results leaving the country blind to real-time virus spread and rendering contact tracing nearly irrelevant.
Beth Cameron, once senior director for the National Security Council’s global health security and biodefense team the Trump administration disbanded, told the Post:
“I just never expected that we would have such a lack of federal leadership, and it’s been deliberate,” she said. “In a national emergency that is a pandemic, spreading between states, federal leadership is essential. And if there was any doubt about that, we ran that experiment from March and April until now. It failed. So we have to run a different experiment.”
The White House punted to the states. The acting president is trying to avoid responsibility for pandemic response failures while claiming credit for any successes.
Making matters worse, Donald Trump “is also trying to block billions of dollars that GOP senators want to allocate for the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and billions more for the Pentagon and State Department to address the pandemic at home and abroad,” the Washington Post reported over the weekend.
Trump appears to believe the flood of new cases is because testing creates cases as if by cause and effect. Even as he brags the U.S. has “the best testing” and “the most testing,” he opposes it. More cases make him look bad. The CDC has made him look bad. Their funding has to go.
Sam Hammond of the right-leaning Niskanen Center told the Post, “Senate Republicans have asked for funding to help states purchase test kits in bulk. As it currently stands, the main bottleneck to a big ramp-up in testing is less technical than the White House’s own intransigence.”
David Carney, adviser to Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, tells the New York Times the president “got bored” with the pandemic.
The once can-do United States cannot. The U.S. is headed for another massive spike in sickness and death with no leadership at the top:
Kristin Urquiza, 39, said she tried warning her father, Mark — a lifelong Republican — against going out and risking infection. In their home state of Arizona, as leaders including Gov. Doug Ducey (R) sprinted to reopen in May and June, Urquiza could tell she was losing the argument.
“When the president, the governor and people on cable news are all saying one thing, how do you compete with that?” she said. “He would push back. ‘I hear what you’re saying, but why would the governor say it’s safe to go out if it’s not true?’ ”
Americans who start brawls other over toys and appliances at Black Friday sales took the reopenings to mean “All Clear.” It wasn’t. Urquiza’s father learned the hard way:
Her father died of the virus June 30. In the obituary she wrote, she lashed out at government leaders.
“He was a huge supporter of Trump and Arizona governor Ducey. He believed what they said. And they betrayed him,” she said in an interview.
Trump wants to get back to his adulation rallies. In an interview Sunday with Chris Wallace of Fox News Sunday, Trump doubled down on his prediction the virus will simply “disappear” someday. But before that happens, and likely before the November elections, many more of his supporters will know someone sickened or killed by COVID-19. He will not be able to rally away or frighten away their pain.
One 120-bed nursing home here had coronavirus infections among three-quarters of its residents. Thirty of those died. Fifty-two staff members were infected before the outbreak ended. That is what the acting president means by the virus disappearing someday.