The Washington Post has put together a pretty informative and revealing timeline of the Trump regime's multiple failure points on COVID-19, and how at every given opportunity Donald Trump deliberately chose the most awful path to take.
The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus — the first of many — in the President’s Daily Brief.
And yet, it took 70 days from that initial notification for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force that had outflanked America’s defenses and was poised to kill tens of thousands of citizens. That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered.
Trump’s baseless assertions in those weeks, including his claim that it would all just “miraculously” go away, sowed significant public confusion and contradicted the urgent messages of public health experts.
“While the media would rather speculate about outrageous claims of palace intrigue, President Trump and this Administration remain completely focused on the health and safety of the American people with around the clock work to slow the spread of the virus, expand testing, and expedite vaccine development," said Judd Deere, a spokesman for the president. "Because of the President’s leadership we will emerge from this challenge healthy, stronger, and with a prosperous and growing economy.”
The president’s behavior and combative statements were merely a visible layer on top of deeper levels of dysfunction.
The most consequential failure involved a breakdown in efforts to develop a diagnostic test that could be mass produced and distributed across the United States, enabling agencies to map early outbreaks of the disease, and impose quarantine measure to contain them. At one point, a Food and Drug Administration official tore into lab officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telling them their lapses in protocol, including concerns that the lab did not meet the criteria for sterile conditions, were so serious that the FDA would “shut you down” if the CDC were a commercial, rather than government, entity.
Other failures cascaded through the system. The administration often seemed weeks behind the curve in reacting to the viral spread, closing doors that were already contaminated. Protracted arguments between the White House and public health agencies over funding, combined with a meager existing stockpile of emergency supplies, left vast stretches of the country’s health-care system without protective gear until the outbreak had become a pandemic. Infighting, turf wars and abrupt leadership changes hobbled the work of the coronavirus task force.
It may never be known how many thousands of deaths, or millions of infections, might have been prevented with a response that was more coherent, urgent and effective. But even now, there are many indications that the administration’s handling of the crisis had potentially devastating consequences.
Even the president’s base has begun to confront this reality. In mid-March, as Trump was rebranding himself a wartime president and belatedly urging the public to help slow the spread of the virus, Republican leaders were poring over grim polling data that suggested Trump was lulling his followers into a false sense of security in the face of a lethal threat.
The poll showed that far more Republicans than Democrats were being influenced by Trump’s dismissive depictions of the virus and the comparably scornful coverage on Fox News and other conservative networks. As a result, Republicans were in distressingly large numbers refusing to change travel plans, follow “social distancing” guidelines, stock up on supplies or otherwise take the coronavirus threat seriously.
And they still are not. A good 8-10 Republican-led states still refuse stay-at-home orders like Iowa and Utah, another dozen are chafing at the bonds and have moved to weaken them, like Georgia and Florida, after being dragged kicking and screaming. Kentucky, Ohio, and Washington state were well ahead of the curve.
Meanwhile Trump is pressuring governors to reopen businesses, schools, and tourist areas demanding that America get back to work, and no, he hasn't actually dropped his "Easter miracle" timeline fantasy, either.
President Donald Trump pushed to reopen the country Saturday, despite warning Americans "it's not going to be a good-looking situation" as the number of deaths approach their peak in the coming days while talking at a briefing with the White House coronavirus task force.
The president also responded to questions about a tweet that suggested creating another White House coronavirus task force that would focus on the economy and reopening the country, he said that it is something he is thinking about.
"I started by saying that, and I continue to say it. The cure cannot be worse than the problem itself. We've got to get our country open," Trump said.
The president discussed a Saturday morning call he had with commissioners of most of the major sports to discuss the effects of coronavirus to the industry, emphasizing that he wants fans "back in the arena" as soon as they can be.
"You know, they want to see basketball and baseball and football and hockey. They want to see their sports. They want to go out onto the golf courses and breathe nice clean, beautiful fresh air," Trump said. "No, I can't tell you a date, but I think it's going to be sooner rather than later."
He said that sports aren't "designed" for closures, which he said is also true of the country, emphasizing that he wants citizens to get back to work.
"It has to get open. This country was not designed to be closed," Trump said. "Think of it. We're paying people not to go to work, how about that? How does that play?"
Trump had responded to a tweet by George W. Bush's former White House press secretary Dana Perino earlier in the day saying he agreed with the idea of another task force examining how the country's economy can reopen and get back on track.
Trump wants things back to normal. He doesn't care how many people he has to infect in order for it to happen, and eventually he's going to do something precipitous that forces the hands of America's governors. And remember, the official case count and death count are, if anything, far, far too low.
The fast-spreading novel coronavirus is almost certainly killing Americans who are not included in the nation’s growing death toll, according to public health experts and government officials involved in the tally.
The U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention counts only deaths in which the presence of the coronavirus is confirmed in a laboratory test, agency spokeswoman Kristen Nordlund said. “We know that it is an underestimation.”
A widespread lack of access to testing in the early weeks of the U.S. outbreak means people with respiratory illnesses died without being counted, epidemiologists say. Even now, some people who die at home or in overburdened nursing homes are not being tested, according to funeral directors, medical examiners and nursing home representatives.
Postmortem testing by medical examiners varies widely across the country, and some officials say testing the dead is a misuse of scarce resources that could be used on the living. In addition, some people who have the virus test negative, experts say.
As a result, public health officials and government leaders lack a complete view of the pandemic’s death toll as they assess its course and scramble to respond.
Scientists who analyze mortality statistics from influenza and other respiratory illnesses say it is too early to estimate how many fatalities have gone unrecorded. For a disease with common symptoms such as covid-19, they said, deaths with positive results almost certainly represent only a fraction of the total caused by the disease.
We're already to the point where people are dying without being tested, as COVID-19 causes multiple organ failure. The number of cases is far higher than the official numbers. The number of deaths are far higher than are being recorded. Social distancing is still not happening in a many places.
And at every juncture, Democratic-led states are finding their equipment taken by Trump and given to who knows. Even Kentucky isn't safe anymore, Mitch McConnell or not.
Kentucky Governor Andy Beshear says his administration is doing everything it can to prepare hospitals to be inundated with cases of COVID-19, but nearly every time the state has placed an order for medical protective gear, the federal government has prevented its transfer.
Kentucky is scaling up the number of hospital beds, enlisting state manufacturers to make protective equipment and doing its best to acquire supplies for medical workers amid a critical shortage.
State officials have also requested additional gloves, masks and other personal protective equipment (PPE) from the Strategic National Stockpile, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services and through private contracts.
But in most cases, Beshear said the federal government got it first.
“Our biggest problem is that just about every single order that we have out there for PPE, we get a call right when it’s supposed to be shipped and it’s typically the federal government has bought it,” Beshear said during a Saturday press conference. “It’s very hard to buy things when the federal government is there and anytime they want to buy it, they get it first.”
This is not going to be over by Easter. It's not going to be over by April. It's not going to be over by May. It's going to be a serious problem for a long, long time.