Sunday, October 25, 2020

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What did Donald Trump do today?

He shared some thoughts about the coronavirus.

Trump and his White House today shared three dramatically different versions of the COVID-19 epidemic that remains completely uncontrolled within the United States.

"We have the vaccines, we have everything."

There is no vaccine for COVID-19, and in spite of Trump's threats to the FDA about retribution if one weren't approved in time for the election, there will not be one any time soon. Even if a safe and effective vaccine existed today, it couldn't be produced in large quantities for the better part of a year at the soonest.

Trump either forgot that, or decided it didn't matter, when he told a rally crowd today, "We are coming around, we’re rounding the turn, we have the vaccines, we have everything."

The campaign is what is "essential."

Another COVID-19 cluster has erupted in the White House, this time centered on Vice-President Mike Pence's office. At least five of Pence's aides have tested positive, including his "body man," a close aide in Pence's presence throughout the day.

By every set of health guidelines published by the Trump administration or any other government in the world, Pence should now self-quarantine for at least 14 days. But with only nine days left until an election that has already become a referendum on Trump's handling of COVID-19, the White House is asserting Pence is an "essential worker" and therefore allowed to go to campaign events.

As a constitutional officer, Pence might be an essential part of the government, but even "essential workers" in the more usual sense of the word—like police, health care workers, and people involved in food distribution—don't break quarantine to go to political rallies.

"We are not going to control the pandemic."

Trump himself may have decided that there is a cure, or a vaccine, or some other kind of magical solution to the U.S. outbreak, but his administration is signaling defeat. "We are not going to control the pandemic," Trump's latest chief of staff, Mark Meadows, told CNN this morning. Instead, he said, the Trump administration would continue to monitor possible therapies. That only leaves social distancing and public health measures, which are non-starters for Meadows's boss. Trump has encouraged people to disobey local shutdown orders and mocked people who wear masks to prevent the spread of the virus.

Why does this matter?

  • Three bad strategies on a crisis of this magnitude are worse than one bad strategy.
  • If there were a plan other than giving up, we probably would have heard about it by now.
  • The health and safety of the American people is more important than Donald Trump's need to be re-elected.