Tuesday, October 13, 2020

Arizona, California, Georgia, Iowa, Indiana, Illinois, Kentucky, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Montana, Nebraska, New Jersey, New Mexico, Ohio, Pennsylvania, South Carolina, South Dakota, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, and Wyoming

WEDNESDAY, OCT. 14 in Kansas, Rhode Island, and Tennessee,
THURSDAY, OCT. 15 in North Carolina
FRIDAY, OCT. 16 in Washington
SATURDAY, OCT. 17 in Massachusetts and Nevada

What did Donald Trump do today?

Epidemiology, as only he can.

At a rally today in Johnstown, Pennsylvania, Trump bragged several times about his "immunity" to COVID-19, and said that members of the audience who had survived the disease were likewise "immune."

Who has had it here? Who’s had it? I know a lot of people, a lot of people. We are the people I want to say hello to because you are right now immune. You’re right now immune.

On one level, Trump's constant references to "immunity" might look like an attempt to portray himself as strong, after an emergency hospitalization and extended convalescence that he clearly found personally humiliating. 

But it's more likely that Trump is trying to put a positive spin on the only COVID-19 strategy he seems willing or able to pursue: letting enough people sicken and die from it that the virus runs out of new hosts. This is called "herd immunity," and it would cost at least a million American lives, if it worked at all.

A White House source, speaking on background, confirmed what has been an open secret: Trump sees letting COVID-19 spread completely unchecked as the best strategy, because it would mean that there was no need for any kind of social distancing or business closures.

When it can be accomplished through harmless vaccines, herd immunity is the best-case scenario. But since letting most or all of a population become sick with a potentially deadly disease is the worst imaginable outcome, what Trump is proposing has never been deliberately tried at any point in human history.

There's another problem with Trump's plan: unlike with some viruses, where lifelong immunity is essentially guaranteed, reinfection with COVID-19 is possible.

Why is this a bad thing?

  • There is no situation where letting a million Americans die unnecessarily is the right choice.
  • Anyone who finds it too difficult or unpleasant to actually do something about a massive threat to American lives shouldn't be president.