In the course of the past couple weeks a curious new phrase has been seared into our consciousness. “Social Distancing,” but what does it mean? Well, it means March 2020 may well be maddening, but will have no “March Madness” in terms of college basketball. However, the impact of Covid-19 concerning the widespread curtailment of sports and entertainment (now schools and churches) is only the growing-tip of the pandemic’s effects coming our way soon.
The mitigation approach of social distancing is the idea that we keep the virus from spreading like wildfire and we thereby flatten the infection-incidence curve. Indications are that if we do not take these drastic actions, then the dramatic increase in new infections and the number of people with serious infections will tragically overwhelm our medical delivery system as is already occurring in Italy (story here). However, we must also be mindful that extensive social distancing has significant local main-street economy implications.
Probably no news to you in what I’m writing this week. I’m simply wanting to journal my take of history in real time, to record my reflections on what we can all see. Both Earth I and Earth II face Covid-19.
In sum, in generous terms, President Donald Trump has been less than helpful in responding to the presently expanding novel coronavirus pandemic. I could insert lots of video here of Trump being ‘less than helpful’ regarding the Covid-19 pandemic. You’ve seen it.
So, I don’t really mean to play Monday morning quarterback, but:
We have fifteen cases and that will soon go down to close to zero. —DJT
It’s the latest Democrat hoax. —DJT
It’s a Democrat hoax. —L. Ingraham
It’s a Democrat hoax. —S. Hannity
It’s a Democrat hoax. —R. Limbaugh
It will miraculously go away. —DJT
It’s contained. I don’t want to say airtight, but it’s pretty well contained. —L. Kudlow
It’s contained. —K.A. Conway
Our numbers are low because of the early steps we took. —DJT
#facepalm … Mr. President, thanks for blocking travel from China early on. However, our numbers are low because we have done virtually no testing for Covid-19. Without testing there is no way to know what our real numbers are.
I’d rather they stay on the ship … I don’t want our numbers to double. —DJT
No, I don’t take responsibility at all because we were given.… —DJT
‘Pinocchio’ must not have been one of the stories Trump was raised on, or it didn’t take. At this moment when the president really needs credibility, the nation anxiously sighs, this president has nearly zero credibility. It matters.
Shhhhhhhhhhhhhhh, just hush
When one is in a demanding high performance leadership role, life is really offering up a precious gift when one’s only move in a very difficult situation is to hush, to simply be quiet. The novel coronavirus presented Trump with precisely that gift. Sadly, Trump couldn’t refrain from doing what Trump does. That is, always thinking he knows more than anyone else about
something everything, and bloviating about whatever topic is at hand. To paraphrase Ann Richards, “Poor Donnie, he can’t help it, he was born with a silver mirror in each hand.”
Trump wasted weeks with minimizing ‘happy talk’
But, I mean really, what did anyone expect might happen with a president who is feared by those who work for this administration? Please recall, a White House aide once requested that the USS McCain be moved so as not to anger the president with its presence in the background of a location where Trump was making a speech. Consider, Trump’s wish all along regarding Covid-19 has been to keep the number of cases low so he can keep the stock market numbers high. While inane, it’s not hard to imagine what’s been reported, e.g., that, in fear, HHS Sec. Azar has minimized reality in his Covid-19 reporting to Trump (NPR here).
Last Thursday afternoon Trump told us, “Frankly, the testing is going smooth,” while up on Capitol Hill, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, under the National Institutes of Health, Dr. Anthony Fauci, was testifying in a congressional oversight committee hearing that to date the testing rollout has been a failure, “Yes, a failure, let’s admit what it is.”
By comparison, in South Korea, for instance, they were testing 10,000 people per day within a week of the beginning of ‘community spread.’ It’s been many weeks since we first detected community spread. Why are we so late? Well, possibly a by-product of the penchant of underlings to please Trump, the boss.
Since January when officials learned of the problem in China, the U.S. response to the Covid-19 pandemic has been a miserable failure. Again, why so late with testing?
One issue with testing is that the president and some of his cabinet leaders are less than enthusiastic about science. Why? Well, RED [CP] ‘no one tells me what to do‘ does not like that Green [FS] ecological concern [Diversity Generators] engages Orange [ER] science [Inner Judges] and teams with Blue [DQ] regulation [Conformity Enforcers] to throttle and limit socially and environmentally dangerous Orange [ER] business-activities [Resource Shifters] thus creating a Blue [Conformity Enforcers] check on laissez faire capitalism. So, one factor in testing-delay is that TRUMP/Trump has endeavored to gut many science budgets. In 2018 Trump’s DNSC (J. Bolton) also eliminated the White House Global Health Security Team, e.g., those who were tasked to prepare for global pandemics.
On Friday, Dr. Fauci indicated in a cable-news interview that over the next couple of weeks U.S. testing capacity for Covid-19 will come on line [finally!]. The Trump administration’s new approach is to scrap CDC and other government efforts and partner with Orange business to privatize the testing program. Roche, Labcorp, and Quest will do the testing. Google will build a website to coordinate. Walmart, Walgreens, and CVS will make parking lot space available for drive-thru testing stations. The president’s news conference on Friday was a CEO hand-shaking corporate showcase. Grandstanding aside, this move to tap the medical testing industry should have been happening in January when Trump was still trying to build a wall to stop the pandemic.
Next week: An intrinsic problem [flaw?] in the conservative political philosophy has been on full display in this crisis.
One last thing
Lest we forget, global just-in-time-delivery supply chains seemed like such a good idea, cut the cost margins and all. When everyone stays home because of the pandemic the problem with that system will quickly become self-evident. The medical delivery system is no exception and just-in-time-delivery translates to very limited surge-capacity. It’s simply too expensive to maintain surplus capacity as a part of the system.
The Covid-19 pandemic is about to prove the Rent Is Too Damn High Party in the U.S.A. has it right. Life simply costs too much per day to fit the coming impacts of the coronavirus into millions of people’s budgets. It would appear that we are quite willing to be democratic socialists when it comes to pandemics. Doing a social distancing response means that we had better be ready to help people make it.
As ever, the question is who will we prioritize to help with resources? Because those precious ones who live closest to the ground are going to take the lion’s share of the economic hit of Covid-19. The most vulnerable always take the worst hit, and yet in some ways we perennially prioritize helping the strong. I am grateful that Bernie Sanders’ voice is in the national-stage political mix right now while we consider how to respond to Covid-19. We’ll see.
No matter what is happening, YOU can be kind to others and to yourself!
All shall be well and all shall be well and all manner of things shall be well. —Julian
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I never know what I’ve said till I hear the response. What did you hear me say?