Tuesday, May 5, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He went back to assuming that a miracle will happen.

Earlier in the pandemic, Trump frequently assumed—and openly declared—that the coronavirus would simply disappear "miraculously" He even set a time frame—April—for when this would happen. (It didn't.)

Today, he returned to that happy thought. Asked about his demand that the country "reopen" in violation of his own administration's guidelines for when it will be safe to do so, Trump said this:

And I think we're doing very well on the vaccines but, with or without a vaccine, it's going to pass, and we're going to be back to normal.

Every county in the country has active cases, and the vast majority of Americans have not yet been exposed. That means that the COVID-19 epidemic is not going to "pass" until one of three things happens:

  1. So many Americans contract the virus—something like 70 to 90 percent—that herd immunity begins to overwhelm its ability to find new hosts. This would mean that something like two million Americans would die at a minimum.
  2. A vaccine is developed and distributed to virtually all Americans. Even if one of the vaccines currently in development turns out to work well and safely, it's extremely unlikely that this will happen in less than a year.
  3. The United States gains the ability to process roughly twenty-five times as many tests as it currently can, and implements a massive, nationally coordinated program of contact tracing.

Trump confirmed today that he intended to disband the coronavirus task force that would presumably be in charge of overseeing the third option.

How is this a bad thing?

  • Problems like this don't just go away on their own, even if the president really wants them to.
  • Declaring victory and quitting isn't a good strategy against an epidemic disease.