Trump Will Let This Pandemic Bring Our Country to Its Knees
We’re losing the war on coronavirus — and our country
Throughout these first months of bad news about the Covid-19 pandemic, I’ve held out hope we would rise to the occasion and get a grip on the epidemic. Other countries have done it. Why not us? But April was the month I gave up that hope. Yes, the number of hospitalizations in New York City seems to be edging down, and yes, social distancing seems to be having an effect there and elsewhere around the U.S. Progress is happening as a patchwork for sure. But the bottom fell out of all this starting a few weeks ago.
The way out of this epidemic in the U.S. has been well articulated now by many different actors. Experts in think tanks on the left and right and governors both Republican and Democrat have sung this four-part mantra in unison: Get the cases down for two weeks or more, scale-up testing, trace contacts of those who test positive and isolate them from those still susceptible to infection. Had this kind of classic approach to public health been the way we’d started this saga, we’d be in better shape today. Now there is only one way forward — and it’s this very same path, even if adopted late in the game. Social distancing can begin to end once we know the contours of what we’re facing out there — the scale and scope of lingering infections in the community — otherwise, we’re flying blind.
But that’s not how we’re doing things. When President Trump tweeted “LIBERATE MINNESOTA!”, “LIBERATE MICHIGAN!” and “LIBERATE VIRGINIA, and save your great 2nd Amendment. It is under siege!” on Friday, April 17, the die was cast: It was a clarion call to his supporters to resist, with arms, the social distancing that would be necessary. This was followed by the less spectacular though far more fateful pronouncements from the White House on testing for SARS-CoV-2. Despite the pleas for help scaling up testing from governors around the country, even Trump’s science advisors began to suggest the entreaties were overblown and we had all the testing capacity we needed to start opening up the economy in the near future.
We are all hoping for a happy ending in what is emerging as one of the greatest challenges this country…