Thursday, April 16, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said there were states "without any problem" where COVID-19 was concerned.

At today's coronavirus press conference, Trump tried to justify a return to normal business (without testing or tracking) in some states, claiming:

You have states without any problem. You have states with few cases, and those few cases have healed. You have – states with very little death, relatively speaking. As I said, one is too many, but you have states with very little and frankly they're at a point where they have almost nothing.

There is absolutely no sense in which this is true.

Maps of the spread of COVID-19 are now essentially maps of where there are people.

The state with the fewest number of cases (and also the smallest population) is Wyoming. Its 296 known cases are spread across 21 of its 23 counties. As of today, it also had 105 probable cases—severe respiratory illnesses known not to be influenza. The reason those 105 cases are not confirmed is that Wyoming, like most of the country, cannot even test all patients who are seriously ill. And since a large percentage of those infected remain totally asymptomatic while they are contagious, the actual number of Wyoming residents who are infected right now may be into the thousands.

Wyoming's infected population is not expected to peak for at least two weeks yet.

In other words, the number of likely carriers in Wyoming, the least populated state, today is only a little less than the known infected population of the United States in mid-March when businesses and universities started closing down. 

Trump's desperation for something he can claim as a victory makes sense on a political level, but according to recent polling, the vast majority of Americans disagree. In a poll released Wednesday, only 10% agreed with Trump that the country "should stop social distancing to stimulate the economy, even if it means increasing the spread of coronavirus." 81% said "should continue to social distance for as long as is needed to curb the spread of coronavirus, even if it means continued damage to the economy."

How is this a bad thing?

  • It's extremely bad if Trump is lying about the risks Americans face for his own political gain.
  • It's much worse if he truly believes this.