Tuesday, April 28, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He doubled down on his prediction that the COVID-19 pandemic would turn out to be no big deal.

Sixty-two days ago, on February 26, Trump said this:

And again, when you have 15 [infected] people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.

At the time, and for several weeks afterwards, Trump's official position was that the unfolding pandemic was nothing the United States needed to worry about. It's not clear whether he genuinely believed this—perhaps because he was ignoring his intelligence briefings—or whether he knew better, but wanted to prop up the crashing stock markets.

Today, Trump was asked about that remark. "It will go down to zero, ultimately," he replied. "At the appropriate time, it will go down to zero at some time." Later, he added, "But I think what happens is it's going to go away. This is going to go away."

The United States reported its one-millionth confirmed case of COVID-19 today. More than 58,000 Americans have died from it as of today.

The actual number of infected people and deaths is universally believed to be much higher, but those figure are incomplete because tests remain very difficult for most Americans to get. Trump also claimed, without evidence, that the United States was "getting very close" to being able to test 5 million people per day. This is 25 times the country's current capacity of roughly 200,000 tests per day.

Asked about that claim, as well as the projected 20 million daily tests needed for effective contact tracing, Trump's own testing chief, Adm. Brett Giroir, said, "There is absolutely no way on Earth, on this planet or any other planet, that we can do 20 million tests a day, or even five million tests a day.”

Why does this matter?

  • Hoping that a crisis that has already killed tens of thousands of Americans will just "go away" is insane.