Having failed in his half-hearted effort to corral the coronavirus, Donald Trump has now pretty much given up and decided to let the virus run its course. The hope seems to be that he can keep his supporters convinced, at least until election day, that the country can be fully opened and the virus will miraculously go away. It won’t work that way, of course, but so long as the strategy gives him his best shot at re-election, who cares?
The plan is much like the so-called “herd immunity” concept employed by the socialist government in Sweden–fully open the country and let the virus do its thing. Responsible epidemiologists call it morally reprehensible because it could unnecessarily kill upwards of a couple million Americans. Experts say the Swedish Covid-19 response has been a disaster.
Trump has called Dr. Anthony Fauci a “disaster” and ignored his advice, while placing growing reliance on Dr. Scott Atlas, a person without epidemic expertise. Atlas has been instrumental in promoting the dangerous herd immunity concept. As daily infections increase at an alarming rate, Atlas merely shrugs and rails against protective measures like wearing masks, social distancing and increased testing and tracing to find and snuff out virus hotspots. Atlas is a cheerleader for unchecked virus spread, he has Trump’s ear, and hundreds of thousands of American lives are needlessly at risk as a result.
Trump continues to downplay the need for rigorous testing. He has refused to spend $9 billion appropriated by Congress to ramp up testing. A comprehensive testing program would reveal the true extent of coronavirus infections across the country, which Trump thinks would hurt his election prospects. He does not want to know and does not want voters to know.
Trump ignores the rapidly-climbing Covid-19 infection rate, claiming the end of the pandemic is just around the corner. Actually, the worst part of the pandemic is just getting started. The U.S. reported 85,085 Covid-19 cases on October 23, an all-time daily high, and daily infections will likely exceed 100,000 in short order. The U.S. is expected to suffer a half million Covid-19 deaths by the end of February, although 130,000 of those lives could be saved if all of us just wore masks.
Idaho is one of the states suffering a spike in cases. There were 1,139 new infections statewide on October 23. A University of Idaho model “estimates about one in 30 eastern Idahoans have Covid-19 and are actively spreading the virus.” Hospitals in Coeur d’Alene and Spokane are at capacity because of the coronavirus surge and hospitals are starting to fill up elsewhere in the state.
Most of the spread around the country is attributable to Donald Trump’s cavalier attitude toward the virus. Trump holds rallies with thousands of closely-packed, unmasked people, which is bound to result in heartache for many of his own supporters and their loved ones. If Trump would just ask that each of them wear a mask out of respect to him, it would go a long way toward giving them a measure of protection. Instead, his rallies have aided and abetted the virus–acting as super-spreader events–according to a USA TODAY analysis.
The experts repeatedly tell us that the main job of the government in a pandemic is to tell people the truth and act upon that truth. That is Trump’s greatest failing. A comprehensive Cornell University study of 38 million English-language pandemic articles found that our President was the “single largest driver” of coronavirus misinformation–about 38% of the overall “misinformation conversation.” The country will continue to suffer grievous injury as a result.
Jim Jones’ weekly columns are collected at JJCommonTater.com