Sunday, June 21, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He got COVID-19 testing all wrong—again.

With anger growing today over his "joke" yesterday about deliberately slowing down the pace of coronavirus testing, Trump tried again to spin his administration's track record on the subject. He tweeted:

First of all, American testing is absolutely not "more advanced." The diagnostic tests available now are the same ones used in the rest of the world, but at first, Trump's CDC inexplicably refused to use the reliable test developed by the World Health Organization. This led to incorrect results and confusion about how fast the virus was spreading. 

It's true that the United States (the third largest country by population) now leads the world in total numbers of tests. But that's a very bad sign at this point in an outbreak that is now almost five months old—just as it's a bad sign if a lot of fire trucks are called after a fire is raging out of control. Countries like South Korea that tested early and often and "flattened the curve" dramatically simply don't have enough sick people now needing tests.

In other words, the time when mass testing would really have been helpful in curbing the spread of the virus was in late February through mid-March. This was right around the time Trump was declaring "I take no responsibility" for the deadly slow rollout of American testing capacity because he thought it wasn't the federal government's job. 

The proof of this is in another number that Trump almost never talks about: the number of people who have died. At least 118,000 Americans are known to have died of COVID-19, although the real number is higher. That's about 25% of the worldwide total. The United States has about 4% of the world's population.

So what?

  • Americans getting sick and dying is an actual problem, not a political one.
  • Presidents who want to "take no responsibility" should resign.