Did I get this wrong? I mean, it was only a month ago. I recognize that a month in TrumpTime is like a year in normal time, but still. Only a month ago Comrade Trump’s own coronavirus task force cobbled together a vague set of guidelines that individual states should meet before the country would be allowed to ‘open up again’ (whatever the hell that means).
Here are the state/regional gating criteria Trump said should be satisfied BEFORE starting the first phase of the
A downward trajectory of documented cases within a 14-day period.
A downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period (flat or increasing volume of tests).
And remember, that’s not even Phase One. That was supposed to be the criteria before entering Phase One. When did we decide to scrap that?
I mean, sure, the guidelines are pretty vague. None of the terms are defined. For example, what constitutes a ‘documented’ case? What is the base proportion of tests that should be conducted (should we test 25% of the population of the region? 10%? One percent?). But at least it says ‘downward trend‘ so you could reasonably assume that meant the number of cases or positive tests would be…you know…going down. Right?
Apparently not. Take a guess how many regions/states that are now relaxing social distancing guidelines (and isn’t that a nice way to put it…relaxing?) have any sort of downward trend in cases or tests. Go ahead, guess.
If you guessed NONE (and I’m pretty sure you did), you’d be right. None. Just the opposite. The number of cases AND the number of positive Covid-19 tests are uniformly increasing. And the Trump administration officials who SET the guidelines are cheering on the folks who are ignoring them.
It’s completely fucking insane.
The only conclusion I can draw from this is that after a few weeks of half-heartedly following some very basic social distancing, the Trump administration — and conservatives in general — have thrown up their collective hands and said, “This shit is hard, no way we can do this, let’s just give up.”
I’m old enough to remember President Obama’s 2008 victory speech, in which he kept speaking the refrain of “Yes, we can.” That sort of optimism and willingness to work hard is gone. We’re now living in the era of “I don’t know, maybe we can, maybe we can’t, I guess we’ll see, but it’s not my responsibility.”
So this is where we are in the United States. As I began to write this, the US had suffered 69,942 confirmed deaths from Covid-19. Confirmed. And we all know there are a lot of Covid-19 deaths that haven’t been officially confirmed. Right now there are 69,968 deaths — twenty-six more people died from Covid-19 while I wrote this.
We know with mathematical certainty there will be more deaths. A LOT more deaths if we don’t follow those basic social distancing guidelines. But our government, and most of Trump’s followers, are apparently okay with that. Because it’s such a bother to wear a mask and stay two meters apart from each other.
So I guess the current plan — not the worst case scenario, the actual plan — is that we’re just going to accept that at least a thousand Americans will die every day for the foreseeable future. That’s the current price of doing business in the US.
But think about this. If Trump is willing to allow that to happen during an election year, what is he capable of doing in a second term?
ADDENDUM: By the way, stories about Covid-19 deaths usually stop in a metaphorical sense with the word ‘death’. But that’s not what happens in the real world. When somebody dies in a hospital, there’s still work to do. There’s a point at which the patient ceases to be a patient and becomes a body. All the machines have to be disconnected from the body; all the tubes and IVs have to be removed. Then the body has to be cleaned — completely wiped down, tidied up, toe-tagged, bagged. Then transferred to the morgue (or refrigerated truck). It’s an unpleasant job. I’ve done it many many times. It wears on you. Give some thought to the folks who are doing that multiple times a day.
ADDENDUM 2: As I hit ‘save’ for the last time, the butcher’s bill has climbed to 69,977. Do the math.