2/06/2020 — U.S.: 1 | World: 620
3/05/2020 — U.S.: 12 | World: 3,293
4/02/2020 — U.S.: 5,137 | World: 48,284
5/07/2020 — U.S.: 73,431 | World: 264,189
5/14/2020 — U.S.: 84,136 | World: 297,569
(COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering at Johns Hopkins University; approximately 8 a.m. each day)
This week, several currently famous people produced utterances warranting our attention.
Also this week, America passed the 80,000-pandemic-deaths marker. Contrary to MAGA supporters I wrestle with on social media, this is the news — the man-bites-dog news. The 329,647,808 Americans who have not died from COVID-19 are the dog-bites-man news — though good news nonetheless. Trump cultists accuse the media of sensationalizing the bad news and fearmongering to the masses: “Why don’t you report all the people who have recovered!?! The good news!?!”
That “good” news is reported every day: You simply subtract current number of deaths (84,136) from current number of cases (1,390,764), and you have the approximate number of recoveries. There you go: the pandemic “good” news. Reported daily.
Oh. That reminds me of the other man-bites-dog bad news: A little more basic math produces a 6% U.S. mortality rate that has been holding. Additionally, a growing number of recovered victims, including many children, are suffering severe aftereffects that are confounding doctors.
Trumpian Rhetorical Milestone
President Trump says a yuge number of galactically dumb things, along with the colossal list of cruel, racist, and mendacious statements. But this week he might have established a superlative milestone on even his rhetorical record:
“She [Vice President Pence’s press secretary] tested very good for a long period of time, and then all of a sudden today she tested positive. … out of the blue. … This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great. The tests are perfect but something can happen between a test where it’s good and something happens.”
(Trump, Donald, R-Fla., U.S. president; White House meeting with congressional Republicans; 5/8/2020.)
Other Trumpian Rhetorical Milestone
“If we did very little testing, we wouldn’t have the most cases. So, in a way, by doing all of this testing, we make ourselves look bad. … [W]e’re going to have more cases because we do more testing. Otherwise, you don’t know if you have a case.”
(Trump, Donald, R-Fla., U.S. president; Oval Office meeting with Vice President Mike Pence, Gov. Kim Reynolds, R-Iowa; 5/6/2020.)
Cliché Alert: I’m going to use one here, but it’s such a good one and so apropos: Oops, he said the quiet part out loud.
Donald has such an interesting way of framing the truth. If you missed it: He doesn’t like coronavirus testing because it finds new cases.
Pundits, critics, experts, nonpartisans, doctors, epidemiologists, virologists, scientists, smart people, and avid news consumers like me have been saying this since February: Trump has been downplaying the pandemic and actively impeding a national testing strategy to keep the numbers down — because high pandemic numbers mean poor economic performance means reelection loss means indictment and possibly prison (at least, major embarrassment).
Dr. Anthony Fauci: Smart, Reasonable
“If you think we have it completely under control, we don’t. The consequences [of premature reopening] could be really serious. My concern is that if states or cities or regions … disregard to a greater or lesser degree the checkpoints that we put in our guidelines … there is a real risk that you will trigger an outbreak that you may not be able to control. [That] paradoxically will set you back, not only leading to some suffering and death that could be avoided, but it could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery, because it would almost turn the clock back.”
(Fauci, Anthony, Dr., National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases head, White House Coronavirus Task Force medical lead; Senate health committee hearing; 5/12/2020.)
Note that Dr. Fauci put his warnings — about opening the U.S. economy prematurely — in terms Trump can understand. First he warned of “suffering and death that could be avoided,” specifically directed to those with humanity. Then the doctor framed it for the humanity-challenged, e.g., the president: “[I]t could even set you back on the road to trying to get economic recovery.”
Self-dealing and corrupt is one thing. Stupid is another. Dr. Fauci is telling Trump, in secret code, that if he reopens too early, he’ll likely sabotage his own venal goal of economic-recovery-at-any-cost to win reelection.
It appears stupid still is winning out.
Sen. Rand Paul: Not Smart, Specious — and Pompous
“We ought to have a little bit of humility in our belief that we know what’s best for the economy. And as much as I respect you, Dr. Fauci, I don’t think you’re the end-all. I don’t think you’re the one person that gets to make a decision. We can listen to your advice, but there are people on the other side saying there’s not going to be a surge and then we can safely open the economy. And the facts will bear this out.”
(Paul, Rand, R-Ky., U.S. senator; Senate health committee hearing; 5/12/2020.)
Sen. Paul, Sir, no one has ever — ever — argued that Dr. Fauci is the “end-all” decision-maker, or any kind of decision-maker. This is borne out by the needless catastrophic sickness and death that already has occurred, precisely because Donald has ignored so much of the doctor’s and his team’s guidance.
“People on the other side say there’s not going to be a surge”? Yeah, “people on the other side” also said the news of the coming pandemic was a “Democrat hoax.” “People on the other side” said the warnings of a pandemic were totally overblown. They said the virus would simply disappear. “People on the other side” still are saying Bill Gates and George Soros decided the world is too populated, conspired to secretly engineer the coronavirus, and are spreading it to cull the herd and depopulate the planet — “and the facts will bear this out.”
Dr. Anthony Fauci Responds — Humbly
“[I] never made myself out to be the end-all and only voice in this. … [T]here are a number of [other officials.] … I’m a scientist, a physician, and a public health official. I give advice, according to the best scientific evidence. I don’t give advice about economic things. … [Since] we don’t know everything about this virus … we’ve really got to be very careful, particularly when it comes to children. … I think we better be careful [about opening schools in the fall as Sen. Paul advocates,] … not [be] cavalier, in thinking that children are completely immune to the deleterious effects. … I am very careful, and hopefully humble in knowing that I don’t know everything about this disease. And that’s why I’m very reserved in making broad predictions.”
(Ibid.; Fauci; 5/12/2020.)
Rand Paul, Even Liz Cheney Thinks You Let Yourself Go (— paraphrased from Triumph the Insult Comedy Dog)
“Dr. Fauci is one of the finest public servants we have ever had. He is not a partisan. His only interest is saving lives. We need his expertise and his judgment to defeat this virus. All Americans should be thanking him. Every day.”
(Cheney, Liz, R-Wyo., U.S. representative; conservative firebrand; Twitter post; 5/12/2020.)
If I wore one, my hat would be off to Liz Cheney. She is sure to get major blowback from the president for this.
Stephen Colbert: Funny, Rhetorically Persuasive
“She tested positive, out of the blue. This is why the whole concept of tests aren’t necessarily great.” (— DJT)
“In the history of dumb things said by Donald Trump — and remember, there will one day be a library filled with them — that might be the dumbest thing he ever said, putting it in the running for the dumbest thing ever spoken by man. She was tested and didn’t have it. Then she got it. Then the next test showed that she had it. Does Trump think the tests are good only if they tell you news you want to hear? My girlfriend took a pregnancy test, it said she wasn’t pregnant. Then we had a bunch of sex. Then, for some reason, all of a sudden, the test said she’s having a baby. That’s why these tests aren’t so great. The tests should start wearing a condom.”
(Colbert, Stephen; Late Show With Stephen Colbert; 5/11/2020.)
Your White House at Work
In the week or so since President Trump mandated closed meat producers to reopen, and open ones to stay open, a dozen or more major-meat-plant-virus-hot-spots have exploded with infections. These new outbreaks have pushed the U.S. confirmed cases number 19% higher over this time. The counties in which they’re located have seen up to 40% increases in COVID-19 contractions.
In an attempt to bring the numbers down, Gov. Pete Ricketts (R-Neb.) ordered his state health officials to cease sharing figures about how many workers have been infected at each plant. The Nebraska data blackout covers four of the Top 10 U.S. counties (with meat plant hot spots) measuring the highest per capita infection rates.
Meanwhile, Donald tweet-supports the “liberation” of Democratic states and tweet-loves his GOP governors.
[FUN FACT NO. 1]: After Dr. Fauci relayed his dire warnings to the Senate this week, President Trump became enraged. The next day, he said the doctor was “playing both sides” and that he “didn’t accept” the warnings.
[FUN FACT NO. 2]: The White House has been pressuring the CDC to change their COVID-19 death-counting parameters to modify the numbers downward. This comes while Dr. Fauci is warning the current numbers already represent a significant undercount.
[FUN FACT #NO. 3]: The Associated Press reports the CDC’s detailed guidelines for reopening the economy have been prepared and “signed off on by the director” for the last month. The White House, however, has blocked the release, quietly informing CDC officials their guidelines “would never see the light of day.”■