It’s only appropriate that a virus named after a crown would be the downfall of Donald Trump, the man who would be king.
With the Trump administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis —COVID-19, for those of you who would like to be more scientifically precise — exposing the level to which the president’s stupidity and incompetence has driven so many actually qualified people out of government service and replaced them with science-rejecting political toadies, Trump’s concern for how the pandemic will affect his own reelection chances seems to be steering his decisions on how the federal government is responding to the outbreak of the deadly disease.
Yet if the president is truly attempting to show the American public that his administration has their best interests at heart and is doing everything in its power to combat the spread of the coronavirus, then his poor judgment is even more suspect, given his complete rejection of expert advice and the substitution of his own scientifically illiterate opinions on how to best combat the disease.
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That his opinions seem to be aimed more at containing the economic damage to the stock markets — the precipitous drop of which contradicts his boasts of a healthy and growing economy and endangers his reelection chances — than protecting the health and welfare of ordinary Americans does not help the reassuring image that he is attempting to project.
Nothing exemplifies Trump’s lack of concern over how his handling of the health crisis negatively affects the wellbeing of the average citizen more than the revelation this morning that the White House intervened to prevent the Centers for Disease Control from warning elderly and sickly Americans that they should avoid flying on commercial airlines, as the Associated Press reported.
“The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention submitted the plan this week as a way of trying to control the virus, but White House officials ordered the air travel recommendation be removed, said the official who had direct knowledge of the plan. Trump administration officials have since suggested certain people should consider not traveling, but they have stopped short of the stronger guidance sought by the CDC,” the AP writes.
The suppression of the advice of medical experts looks particularly egregious coming after Trump spent part of Wednesday meeting with airline executives discussing how the pandemic has affected their revenue projections for the months ahead.
The defensive Trump administration reacted to the AP‘s story predictably, with a spokesperson for Vice President Pence, the head of the president’s coronavirus task force, saying that the story was “complete fiction” and that suggesting limiting air travel for senior citizens “was never a recommendation to the Task Force.”
That denial seems to contradict the advice that the CDC published on its website on Friday telling the elderly and those with underlying medical issues to “stay home as much as possible” and avoid crowded locations. While the advisory doesn’t specifically mention air travel in keeping with the White House directive, it does encourage older adults to “take actions to reduce your risk of exposure.”
It doesn’t take a considerable amount of cogitation to figure out that avoiding traveling through the air in a sealed tube with recirculated air (including the combined microbes carried by all aboard) is one significant manner to reduce your risk of exposure, no matter what the Trump White House wants you to think.
Indeed, while VP Pence had no trouble advising those of retirement age against going on a cruise right now — saying that “this would be a good time to practice common sense and to avoid activities including traveling on a cruise line,” just in case you hadn’t heard the horror stories of those quarantined on docked ships full of infected passengers — medical experts were more direct in their recommendations for people in high-risk groups.
“The clear message to people who fit into those categories is; ‘You ought to become a semi-hermit. You’ve got to really get serious in your personal life about social distancing, and in particular avoiding crowds of any kind,’” Dr. William Schaffner, a Vanderbilt University expert on infectious diseases, told the AP. That can include not only avoiding essential commercial travel but also large church services and crowded restaurants, he stressed.
The administration’s attempts to block the dissemination of expert advice on how to best avoid catching a virus with a fatality rate far exceeding an ordinary flu virus confirms fears that beyond merely responding to the coronavirus outbreak in an incompetent and disorganized manner, Donald Trump and his cronies are actively taking steps that can make the outbreak much worse than it otherwise have been.
If this doesn’t help us rid the country of his presidency by turning even more public sentiment against him, then the power of Trump’s propaganda machine to overcome common sense has been vastly underestimated.
Original reporting by Mike Stobbe at The Associated Press.