The coronavirus is entering a new phase in the United States: it’s now invading rural America. The administrations’ experts are sounding alert but there are no signs that President Donald Trump has a cohesive master plan to tackle the growing crisis. Unless muddying the waters, spreading misinformation, denial and going on the political attack is a cohesive plan.
Donald Trump’s top government experts now say that the pandemic is entering a new phase as it invades the rural heartland — and they can’t say how long it will last.
With millions of kids nowhere near going back to school and the economy reeling from a 32.9% annualized contraction in the second quarter, the months ahead are stretching into what looks like an endless crisis as Trump tweets “Make America Great Again” and spends his weekends on the golf course.
Top administration officials in recent days have repeatedly delivered information and warnings that directly contradict Trump’s upbeat messaging on Friday on the virus: “We’ll get rid of it, we’ll beat it, and it will be soon.”
Amid this grim outlook, the administration and Capitol Hill Democrats are deadlocked on a plan to extend federal unemployment payments to millions of Americans who lost their jobs in lockdowns.
Dr. Deborah Birx delivered a series of stunning warnings on CNN’s “State of the Union” five months into a pandemic that the President once said posed no threat to Americans but has now killed more than 150,000 of them.
“What we are seeing today is different from March and April. It is extraordinarily widespread. It’s into the rural as equal urban areas,” Birx, the White House coronavirus task force coordinator, told CNN’s Dana Bash.
….”To everybody who lives in a rural area, you are not immune or protected from this virus,” Birx said. Her comments came after her colleague, Dr. Anthony Fauci, told a House committee on Friday it was “unclear” how long the crisis will last.
And note this section in the CNN report which contains a shocking tidbit on the administration’s early efforts on the crisis.
Far from showing that he understand the depths of the calamity and has a plan to address it, Trump spent the weekend spreading lies and disinformation in between two trips to his golf course in Virginia, again underscoring how he has declined to adopt the leadership role that would have been expected from a traditional president during a grave national crisis.
He again falsely claimed that the only reason there are more cases of the virus is because the US is doing new testing. He gloated about “Big China Virus breakouts” in nations where reopenings have caused viral spikes and where leaders did a better job in quelling the virus than he did in the United States. Trump also claimed falsely that the media was not reporting on such hotspots around the world.
The President also launched a new attack on Fauci, who said last week that the reason Europe did better containing the initial pandemic was because it shut down far more of its economy that the President allowed in the US.
Trump’s tweets followed a report by Vanity Fair last week that Trump’s son-in-law and senior adviser Jared Kushner worked on a secret national testing plan last spring before the approach was rejected, reportedly for political reasons, in favor of putting the responsibility for fighting the virus on individual governors. Since then, tens of thousands of Americans have died and experts say there still is not sufficient testing capacity to flatten the infection curve of the virus. Many test results are coming back far too slowly to be of any use controlling the spread of the disease. The White House says the premise of the article is wrong and misstates the facts.
The most damning part of the Vanity Fair piece was this:
Against that background, the prospect of launching a large-scale national plan was losing favor, said one public health expert in frequent contact with the White House’s official coronavirus task force.
Most troubling of all, perhaps, was a sentiment the expert said a member of Kushner’s team expressed: that because the virus had hit blue states hardest, a national plan was unnecessary and would not make sense politically. “The political folks believed that because it was going to be relegated to Democratic states, that they could blame those governors, and that would be an effective political strategy,” said the expert.
The White House has vehemently denied it but in the media these denials have not put this allegation to rest. The reason: Trump often talks about “our people” and has governed as President of the Base, for the Base and of the Base. He has made no attempt expand his 2016 election coalition beyond those who voted for him and as some pundits have noted has indeed acted like a wartime President: a President at war with Blue America.
Now he has attacked Dr. Birx for deviating from his narrative:
So Crazy Nancy Pelosi said horrible things about Dr. Deborah Birx, going after her because she was too positive on the very good job we are doing on combatting the China Virus, including Vaccines & Therapeutics. In order to counter Nancy, Deborah took the bait & hit us. Pathetic!
— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) August 3, 2020
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