33. He has the blood of thousands on pandemic victims on his hands
Since February, when the world first learned of the coronavirus now known as Covid-19, we’ve learned much of its complex nature and seen several areas in which the federal government’s response has been severely detrimental to the public good. Since there are multiple areas in which DT’s behavior has been inexcusably awful, it is probable that the topic will be revisited during the course of this 50-day blog blitz. Put it another way: with 200,000 dead and no end in sight, this deserves more than one reason out of 50.
After a slight bit of fumbling at the beginning, the experts have been remarkably consistent about what is needed to effectively tackle the pandemic. We need to have rapid testing and contact tracing on a massive scale, we need to practice social distancing as much as possible, and we need to wash our hands a lot and refrain from touching our faces. We should wear masks when in public, especially indoors. There are other steps that may be helpful, but those are the basics.
Given the profusion of state and local governments in the United States and the diverse, often parochial nature of its population, trying to enact uniform policies nationwide is a bit like herding cats. Nevertheless, it is incumbent upon federal authorities to try. After all, interstate travel cannot completely end even in a pandemic, and the virus doesn’t respect geopolitical boundaries. At a minimum, the federal government could help by:
- delivering a consistent, factual message with sound, science-based recommendations for state and local governments and advice for individuals and households;
- ensuring that all healthcare workers and other vulnerable persons promptly receive appropriate protective equipment and relevant medical supplies in adequate numbers as promptly as possible, by coordinating supply lines based on need and by invoking the Defense Production Act if necessary;
- providing the financial resources, equipment, and training necessary to allow all states to test a sufficient number of people and implement effective contact tracing to address local outbreaks;
- ensuring that masks and hand sanitizer are available and affordable for everyone;
- protect those who have lost their jobs during the pandemic by putting a freeze on evictions, mortgage foreclosures, utility cutoffs, and student loan defaults, and by providing sufficient replacement income to ensure that basic needs are met;
- provide grants—or, in the case of for-profit corporations, low- or no-interest loans—to ensure that essential services such as utilities and public transportation continue to operate, and offer ongoing financial assistance to small businesses impacted by the pandemic.
Very little of the above has happened, and for the most part, one man is to blame. Instead of taking these constructive steps, DT has made wildly inconsistent, often false claims about the coronavirus and repeatedly used racist nomenclature when referring to it. He has denied that it poses a threat, then acknowledged the threat but promised it would be over by Easter. He then assured the nation that it would magically go away come summer. He has steadfastly refused to wear a mask, mocked mask wearers, and continues to host large gatherings of maskless people who are not social distancing. He has directed a disproportionate amount of assistance to states whose electors voted for him in 2016. He has declined to acknowledge that Covid-19 is a potential threat to anyone regardless of age or health, and that it has disproportionately infected people of color. He has publicly second-guessed and sidelined the most qualified epidemiology experts in the government. He has refused to pay America’s share for the World Health Organization. He has pushed drugs that have no proven efficacy for treating Covid-19. He has mused aloud about patients injecting disinfectant to cure themselves. He has refused to allow the U.S. to join an international vaccine-development consortium, and has indicated he would bypass normal FDA channels to approve a vaccine before it has been shown to be effective and safe. He has declined to work with Congress to extend unemployment benefits. He has urged the reopening of schools, falsely claiming that children are immune to the virus.
The list of DT’s actions and non-actions could go on for much longer than what’s listed above. The point is, his response to the pandemic demonstrates beyond the shadow of a doubt that he is utterly unqualified for the job of president. There can be little doubt that his utter failure to deal with the pandemic in a rational way has resulted in a large number of unneeded deaths. One in 1500 Americans have already died from the disease; for African Americans, the ratio is 1 in 1000. Experts are predicting 400,000 deaths by the end of the year. If we don’t want to see a million deaths before this is over, we need to vote him out of office.
The screeching violin
It is said that Nero fiddled while Rome burned. (He didn’t really—he may have lyred—but let’s not be picky.) The extent of DT’s relationship with music appears to be limited to his penchant for ordering copyrighted songs played without the artists’ permission at his germ-laden rallies, but instead of fiddling he’s tweeting while small businesses are still closing by the thousands, millions of Americans remain out of work, and the ICUs start filling up again as Covid-19 cases spike around the country. Oh, and the West Coast is still burning.