Trump voters simply don't believe coronavirus is a problem, so they don't care about it, won't change their behavior, and they certainly won't blame Donald Trump when it spreads.
Americans who now find themselves politically divided over seemingly everything are now forming two very different views of another major issue: the dangers of the new coronavirus.
Democrats are about twice as likely as Republicans to say the coronavirus poses an imminent threat to the United States, according to a Reuters/Ipsos poll conducted this week.
And more Democrats than Republicans say they are taking steps to be prepared, including washing their hands more often or limiting their travel plans.
Poll respondents who described themselves as Republicans and did not see the coronavirus as a threat said it still felt remote because cases had not been detected close to home and their friends and neighbors did not seem to be worried, either.
“I haven’t changed a single thing,” Cindi Hogue, who lives outside Little Rock, Arkansas, told Reuters. “It’s not a reality to me yet. It hasn’t become a threat enough yet in my world.”
Many of the U.S. cases that have been reported so far have been in Washington state and California, more than 1,000 miles away from Arkansas.
COVID-19 is something those filthy blue states and their immigrants have to worry about, not Real Americans In The Heartland™. Steve M. explains the theory:
Here's what I wrote late last month:
Most Americans never travel. Trumpism is popular among the untraveled; they're suspicious of people who gad about the planet rather than settling into a small town or gated retirement village. They'll regard this as a disease of rootless cosmopolitanism -- or, rather, as a disease rootless cosmopolitans have spread to simple, decent, travel-averse Volk.
And if they never get real numbers from the federal government, they'll learn to mistrust the numbers from state and local governments, from "the fake news," and from private organizations. If they don't have real numbers from the one source they trust -- Trump and his government -- they'll experience a combination of denial and (if the virus shows up where they live) scapegoat-blaming.
Trump might not be able to avoid coronavirus accountability forever -- but with some lucky breaks and careful misdirection, he might avoid it until November, the way Bush avoided accountability on Iraq in November 2004. Avoiding accountability is all that matters to Trump.
The rush to blame Democrats, specifically immigrants and those people for COVID-19 is going to be the name of the game. Trump voters believe it's a Chinese bioweapon that Beijing lost control of.
Conspiracy theories infect us faster than the virus itself, it seems. This time, the basic idea behind all of them is that the origins of COVID-19 in Wuhan, home to the Wuhan Institute of Virology, is suspicious. From there, some claim that it escaped the lab accidentally after being used in a regular, if risky, experiment, or a bioweapons program. Others suggest it was released intentionally, though it gets convoluted when you try to determine who, exactly, was being attacked: As the podcast Knowledge Fight has documented, Alex Jones has said that COVID-19 is both a false-flag style attack by the Chinese government against its own people and a “ChiCom” (that is, Chinese communist) plot to attack the West, a conspiracy repeated by Rush Limbaugh.
Responsible outlets have covered the conspiracy theories, attempting to debunk them. But even some experts don’t seem immune here. One rejected the idea of the virus being a biological weapon and praised the Wuhan Institute of Virology as a “world-class research institution that does world-class research” to the Washington Post at the end of January. Less than a month later, he was tweeting sympathetically about a New York Post opinion piece claiming the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19, had escaped from the same lab.
So no, Trump voters will never blame Trump for COVID-19 even as the illness ravages both red and blue states. They will be mobilized to vote against those people who "brought the virus into America".
If you think racism and anti-immigrant fervor was bad before, it will absolutely get much, much worse.
Meanwhile in Italy, the government there is quarantining the entire Lombardy region of 16 million.
Italy's prime minister has said at least 16 million people are in mandatory quarantine in Lombardy region and also in 14 provinces.
The lock-down will last until early April.
The dramatic escalation in the country's efforts to contain the new coronavirus will close gyms, pools, museums and ski resorts.
Italy is Europe's worst-hit country and reported a steep rise in virus infections on Saturday.
The new measures, which also apply to financial centre Milan and tourist hotspot Venice will last until 3 April.
The death toll in Italy has passed 230, with officials reporting more than 50 deaths in 24 hours. The number of confirmed cases jumped by more than 1,200 to 5,883 on Saturday.
Imagine all of the mid-Atlantic and New England locked down from Philly to Maine, a quarter of the US population, and you have an idea of what Italy is going through. Here in the states, the White House refuses to quarantine anyone, or even recommend safety procedures of any sort.
The White House overruled health officials who wanted to recommend that elderly and physically fragile Americans be advised not to fly on commercial airlines because of the new coronavirus, a federal official told The Associated Press.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention submitted the plan this week as a way of trying to control the virus, but White House officials ordered the air travel recommendation be removed, said the official who had direct knowledge of the plan. Trump administration officials have since suggested certain people should consider not traveling, but they have stopped short of the stronger guidance sought by the CDC.
The person who spoke to the AP on condition of anonymity did not have authorization to talk about the matter. The person did not have direct knowledge about why the decision to kill the language was made.
On Friday, the CDC quietly updated its website to tell older adults and people with severe medical conditions such as heart, lung or kidney disease to “stay home as much as possible” and avoid crowds. It urges those people to “take actions to reduce your risk of exposure,” but it doesn’t specifically address flying.
Vice President Mike Pence, speaking Saturday after meeting with cruise ship industry leaders in Florida, targeted his travel advice to a narrower group: older people with serious health problems.
“If you’re a senior citizen with a serious underlying health condition, this would be a good time to practice common sense and to avoid activities including traveling on a cruise line,” Pence said, adding they were looking to cruise line officials for action, guidance and flexibility with those passengers.
Health and Human Services Secretary Alex Azar suggested older Americans and those with health problems should avoid crowds “especially in poorly ventilated spaces.”
What does the White House want to do?
Give tax cuts to airlines and cruise lines.
We've known for years that a pandemic scenario of a flu-like disease with a higher contagion and mortality rate was always likely. It was just a matter of when.
"When" is now.