Saturday, July 4, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He tried one more time to whistle past the graveyard of COVID-19 in America.

In a pair of tweets today, and in a White House speech, Trump once again insisted that the coronavirus pandemic that has killed considerably more than 132,000 Americans is really just a statistical glitch.

Cases, Cases, Cases! If we didn’t test so much and so successfully, we would have very few cases. If you test 40,000,000 people, you are going to have many cases that, without the testing (like other countries), would not show up every night on the Fake Evening News..... ....In a certain way, our tremendous Testing success gives the Fake News Media all they want, CASES. In the meantime, Deaths and the all important Mortality Rate goes down. You don’t hear about that from the Fake News, and you never will. Anybody need any Ventilators???

It's simply not true that the eventual increase in testing capacity—which Trump famously said was not his responsibility, but is now taking credit for—accounts for the last month's increase in positive results. The percentage of positive tests (the blue line in the graph below) is increasing, too—and fast.

Johns Hopkins University

Put in terms Trump, a former high school baseball player notorious for inflating his stats, might understand: a player's batting average goes up when he gets a hit a higher percentage of the time, not just because he's getting more at-bats to "find" hits with.

Later, in a speech, Trump said that "99%" of positive cases are "totally harmless." It's true that most people survive the virus—but the long-term effects are only just now becoming clear, and they are anything but harmless. Complications already discovered include long-term damage to the brain, lungs, and other organs. 

If the virus ran unchecked through the United States and half of the population contracted it, 99% survival would mean about 1.6 million Americans died from it.

There's also the problem that while young and healthy people generally survive the disease, they don't want to be responsible for passing it on to people more vulnerable to it. Trump, who lives in a protective bubble bought at the cost of his own Secret Service detail's health, appears to be aware of this on some level: he has insisted on measures that make it physically impossible to get anywhere near him without an on-site test.

Why should I care?

  • When a situation is this serious, it really doesn't matter if a president is ignoring it because he doesn't understand it, or because he's incapable of fixing it.