Navigating Coronavirus — August 10

Navigating Coronavirus
5 min readAug 10, 2020


In today’s email, we spotlight the absurd fraud that was Trump’s “executive order” announcement this weekend — and outline exactly how these “actions” hurt regular people and make this crisis even more chaotic. We also examine how Trump has put politics over science, as the pandemic has deepened and we now exceed 5 million cases.

Quick plug — Wanted to share a sneak preview of a new podcast, Made to Fail, which will dive into the decades-long effort by the right to undermine the institutions that are failing us now. This pandemic and economic collapse have laid bare the shortcomings of our politics and public policy, and Made to Fail will explore how these institutions were designed to break right when we need them most. It launches a week from today, August 17, and the trailer is up HERE. You can subscribe on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you get your podcasts.

And now, read on for today’s Navigating Coronavirus…

It’s been 166 days since President Trump said we’d soon have zero cases in the U.S. We now have 5.2 million cases and more than 165,000 deaths.


A spotlight on Trump’s absurd smoke-and-mirrors “executive order” stunt this weekend…

After dragging his feet for months and pushing workers and the economy into a completely unnecessary crisis, Trump walked away from negotiations and chose a smoke-and-mirrors stunt that will end up hurting workers and families and the economy.

  • This is pure Trump: a splashy announcement that he thinks will make him look like he’s solving problems, but with details that either won’t work or would actually hurt the people he is claiming will be helped.
  • This is going to backfire on him quickly as people realize that the money they’ve been promised isn’t coming, and that Trump once again sold them a bill of goods.
  • If Trump’s press stunt was ever to be reality, it would cut emergency unemployment insurance in half for the 30 million Americans who lost their jobs because of the pandemic, from $600 a week to $300 — and it’s unclear if states would even be able to implement it at all. People would have less to pay their bills next month than they did this month — all while the virus keeps getting worse.
  • The proposal, which is being called “an administrative nightmare” and “impossible” to implement, would divert $44 billion from FEMA during hurricane season and require states to set up a whole new program for benefits that only have enough funding to last only a few weeks, if the money can be delivered at all.
  • Trump’s “payroll tax cut” deferral is also a complete sham. Not only would it threaten Social Security if actually implemented, but workers would be on the hook to pay it back right after the election, and there’s a good chance that employers won’t even change their withholding.
  • NYT: “Mr. Trump’s own aides concede, the orders will not provide any aid to small businesses, state and local governments or low- and middle-income workers.”

MEANWHILE >> The House passed legislation more than two months ago that protects unemployment insurance for 30 million Americans who lost their job during a pandemic, extends eviction moratoriums and other key family protections, invests in public health and coronavirus response efforts, and stops states from going bankrupt from the virus. Trump and McConnell have been refusing to allow a vote on this for more than 85 days.

  • If Trump doesn’t reverse course and come back to the table to work with Democrats on legislation that actually helps families and the economy, he’s going to face the full blame of the American people for the ensuing chaos, job loss, and economic fallout.

BE SMART >> Remember that, according to last week’s Navigator poll, Trump was staring down blame for unemployment insurance expiring — and Trump was 9 points underwater on handling the economic recovery from the pandemic (44%-53%) — as more than 80% of Americans rated the economy negatively. This Trump publicity stunt was meant to create optics that allow him to try to avoid blame for all this, not actually help people or solve the problem.


Message guidance on the latest developments with President Trump’s handling of the crisis.


This weekend, the U.S reached another grim milestone as we passed more than 5 million coronavirus cases — double the number since the end of June.

  • “To put the number in perspective, that means the United States has had more Covid-19 cases than Ireland has people.” (CNN)

It didn’t have to be this way: reckless decisions made by the Trump administration, including to prioritize politics over science, have left us unable to get the pandemic under control.

The state of the nation >>

  • AS TRUMP TRIES TO FORCE SCHOOLS TO OPEN: “97,000 children reportedly test positive for coronavirus in two weeks as schools gear up for instruction”
  • GEORGIA: “9 coronavirus cases reported at Georgia high school days after photo taken of crowded hallway”
  • CALIFORNIA: “California tops 10,000 coronavirus-related deaths”
  • TEXAS: “Texas reports 4,879 new coronavirus cases, 116 more deaths”
  • ARIZONA: “Arizona health experts urge more tests as testing declines”

We are in this position because Trump has constantly downplayed the virus and refused to take it seriously, a truth revealed yet again in a damning Washington Post story over the weekend.

  • Washington Post: “The lost days of summer: How Trump fell short in containing the virus”
  • “If the administration’s initial response to the coronavirus was denial, its failure to control the pandemic since then was driven by dysfunction and resulted in a lost summer, according to the portrait that emerges from interviews with 41 senior administration officials and other people directly involved in or briefed on the response efforts.”
  • “POLITICS-FIRST, SCIENCE-SECOND” >> “Meadows no longer holds a daily 8 a.m. meeting that includes health professionals to discuss the raging pandemic. Instead, aides said, he huddles in the mornings with a half-dozen politically oriented aides — and when the virus comes up, their focus is more on how to convince the public that President Trump has the crisis under control, rather than on methodically planning ways to contain it … Part of the politics-first, science-second attitude that has become pervasive inside the White House this summer — and which has been championed foremost by Trump.”

Navigating Coronavirus is a joint project of Governing for Impact, Groundwork Collaborative, The Hub Project, and Navigator Research.

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Navigating Coronavirus

A daily product to help you navigate Donald Trump’s handling of the coronavirus crisis and government response efforts. A project informed by @NavigatorSurvey.