The immediate danger after the election is white supremacist violence, and Trump trying to nullify the election and take power, but it's also an issue of COVID-19 pandemic spread as we rapidly approach 8 million cases. Here in Kentucky we've now set three consecutive weekly new case records, even with Gov. Andy Beshear's mask mandate.
Kentucky Gov. Andy Beshear on Sunday announced the state has once again surpassed its record for new COVID-19 cases reported over seven days.
The 852 new cases announced Sunday brought Kentucky's weekly total to 7,675 cases of the coronavirus, topping last week's record of 6,126. The record before that had been set the previous week with nearly 5,000 cases.
This week's total includes more than 2,000 backlogged cases from Fayette County reported Wednesday, according to a press release from the governor's office.
Kentucky has now seen 80,292 COVID-19 cases since the start of the pandemic.
Beshear also announced three more deaths linked to the pandemic, including a 33-year-old man from Jefferson County, a 60-year-old man from Hopkins County and a 70-year-old woman from Warren County.
“That’s three more families who are now grieving," Beshear said.
Beshear announced earlier Sunday he and his family were quarantining themselves after potentially being exposed to a person with COVID-19. They all tested negative, and Beshear said they will be tested regularly and remain in quarantine until cleared by the state health department.
“We want to make sure we’re setting the example, and we want to make sure we’re keeping other people around us safe,” Beshear said.
Dr. Steven Stack, Kentucky's public health commissioner, said social gatherings and settings where people are close together for extended periods of time continue contribute toward case clusters.
"With the disease so widespread in Kentucky now, the risk of all of us getting exposed is high if we don’t all do our part to socially distance, wear masks and practice good hand hygiene," Stack said in the release.
But Americans are bored of masks and social distancing, because the leader of the country is bored with masks and social distancing even after contracting the disease, and he's making it the policy of the federal government that they no longer care either.
Trump’s infection with COVID had presented an opportunity for him to personally change his behavior and, with it, encourage his followers to do the same. That he didn’t was viewed as the final nail in the coffin for attempts to convince skeptical Americans that masks were invaluable in stopping the deadly disease’s spread.
“That’s when I realized that the time to convince Americans to take all these health precautions seriously in order to prevent the spread was totally over,” said one senior health official who works with the White House’s coronavirus task force.
Since the early days of COVID, the Trump administration has not only resisted mask-wearing but actively portrayed it as a form of partisan virtue signaling. To keep your face uncovered, the thinking went, was to show support for the president, a value of personal liberty, and a defiance against public health professionals who publicly speak out against the president’s response to the virus.
The logic has alarmed scientists. Multiple officials working on the federal government’s coronavirus response said that at the start of the pandemic they pushed for the administration to embrace public health messaging that underscored the importance of wearing a mask, washing hands and maintaining social distancing. Task force officials appeared in public hearings telling lawmakers and the American people that embracing these measures would prevent community spread.
But the White House moved in another direction. It pressured its health agencies to switch its messaging to focus almost entirely on reopening the country no matter the cost, officials said. Two senior health officials told The Daily Beast that they were pressured to step back from reinforcing the effectiveness of masks and social distancing—guidelines that Trump and his confidants viewed as potential obstacles to states reopening schools, bars, and restaurants. And as The New York Times reported, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was stopped by the White House from mandating masks on public transportation.
The mask skepticism from the White House was so evident that officials inside the West Wing began to stop personally wearing masks for fear of retribution.
“If you stepped into a meeting with the president and you wore a mask when he and the rest of the room were not, you would very likely hear about it from the president himself,” said a Trump administration official who has been in the room in such cases. “It was well-known [in the building] that if you wanted to be taken seriously by the president, you should take his lead on the masks thing… and not be the guy wearing a mask in a gathering with him, as if to say you’re sticking it to [Trump].”
Now, officials say that months of the president mocking mask-wearers and refusing to wear a mask in public has not only instilled a false sense of security in some Americans but facilitated the spread of the virus. Officials say they’ve reached the point of no return—that the time for getting the message out that masks, in particular, are necessary—has passed. And that, they said, points to a dangerous new reality: that the virus could continue to spread throughout the country, killing more people, throughout the next year.
Even if Joe Biden wins the election and Trump gets what's coming to him, half the country will continue to refuse to wear masks or enforce mask mandates, and so the pandemic will spread to tens of millions in 2021. Even if a Democratic Congress and Biden enact a federal mask mandate, there's every reason to believe the Supreme Court will strike it down, especially if Amy Coney Barrett becomes a Justice.
And even if a mask mandate does survive judicial scrutiny, people will still refuse to wear them, refuse to enforce the laws, and spread the disease.
As bad as 2020 is and has been, there's a lot of reasons to believe 2021 will be one of the most hideous years in American history.
And hundreds of thousands of Americans will die.