Navigating Coronavirus — October 21

Navigating Coronavirus
6 min readOct 21, 2020


In today’s email, we have new Navigator polling on the severity of the pandemic — and on who Americans trust, Fauci or Trump. In the middle of this escalating “fall surge,” Trump has chosen to fight with our top infectious disease expert — as he continues pretending nothing’s wrong. We also look at the latest in the worsening economic crisis, including who is being hit the hardest.

We’ll be back on Monday with our next (and last) morning email before the election, but for now …

Read on for today’s Navigating Coronavirus…

It’s been 235 days since President Trump said we’d soon have zero cases in the U.S. We now have more than 8.3 million cases and 224,000 deaths in the U.S.


  • NEW NAVIGATOR POLL >> In the last week, the number of Americans who say that coronavirus cases are rising has gone up nearly double digits. Last week, we pointed out that the data suggested we had firmly entered the “fall surge” of outbreaks; this week, we’re seeing two-thirds of Americans (65%) expressing their view that the number of new cases is increasing.
  • CONSIDER THIS: We are only two weeks from the election, this crisis is reaching its worst point since the summer surge, and President Trump is totally ignoring the problem and failing to do anything about it. This outbreak is on its way to being at a fever pitch by November 3. Will Trump ever realize this is The Thing that will determine everything else?



COVID-19 hospitalizations are increasing in 39 states, and more than a dozen are at or near their all-time peak. Meanwhile, Trump is attacking the nation’s top pandemic expert while ignoring science and safety guidelines as he continues to downplay the virus.

Trump refuses to take this crisis seriously and is more focused on himself and his own petty personal grievances than addressing a pandemic killing hundreds of thousands of Americans.

  • WHAT ARE WE ‘TIRED’ OF? >> As cases top 8 million and deaths surpass 225,000, Trump is now claiming that people are “tired of hearing about coronavirus” — but the only thing we’re tired of is constant death, infections, school closures, and our lives being upended.

And instead of understanding our pain and what we need as Americans, Trump is lashing out at the nation’s top infectious disease expert.

  • Kaitlan Collins: “On call with campaign staff, President Trump says people are tired of hearing about coronavirus. ‘People are saying whatever. Just leave us alone. They’re tired of it. People are tired of hearing Fauci and all these idiots…Fauci is a nice guy. He’s been here for 500 years.’”
  • CNN: “Trump ridiculed Fauci as a “disaster” and an “idiot” who has been around for “500 years” — trashing one of the nation’s best hopes of easing the pandemic along with his recommendations to quell an alarming Covid-19 surge.”
  • TRUMP IS STILL HOLDING SUPER SPREADER RALLIES >> Despite pleas to stop from state leaders and reports from his own Coronavirus Task Force that gatherings will lead to preventable deaths, Trump is still cramming people into tight spaces in hotspot states. Yesterday he held a rally in Pennsylvania where they are in the modest of a “fall resurgence”: since the end of September, deaths have risen by 70% and hospitalizations increased by two-thirds, while more than 1,000 new cases have been reported in the last two weeks.
  • Erie News Now: “Pennsylvania Doctors Raise Concerns About Trump Rally Due to Increasing Coronavirus Cases”
  • “More than 75 physicians signed a letter, saying the campaign events endanger public health. They also raised concerns about the President spreading misinformation about the virus.”



  • **MAJOR FINDING** Dr. Fauci remains more than twice as trusted on the pandemic as President Trump. By 41 points, Americans say Fauci believes Trump has done a bad job managing coronavirus, and Fauci is viewed a net 55 points more favorably than Trump.
  • FAUCI net favorability: +41 (62–21%)
  • TRUMP net favorability: -14 (42–56%)
  • As mentioned above, coronavirus remains The Thing at the top of Americans’ minds — including when it comes to Trump’s negatives. At the same time Americans say it’s their top priority, a majority still says Trump isn’t doing enough. And for four months, it has dominated Trump’s negatives.


The latest on how the economic crisis sparked by coronavirus is being fueled by President Trump’s actions and years of conservative economic policies, focusing today on Trump’s latest inaction making this crisis worse, the continuing disparate impact on Black workers and families, and the unwelcome return of the so-called deficit hawks.

Here’s where we stand: Trump and his allies in the Senate spent months refusing to work with House Democrats to pass critically needed COVID-response legislation, and they are responsible for this crisis being far worse than it needed to be.

  • Because Trump and his allies refused to step up and work with congressional Democrats, workers across the country continue to lose their jobs — some for the second time.
  • Reminder: Because of Trump’s inaction, 30 million unemployed workers have seen their incomes slashed.
  • The impact of Trump’s inaction is rippling throughout the economy as “a wave of evictions” is expected across the country, millions of families are entering poverty, and the lack of demand will cause this economic crisis to continue to worsen.

Trump’s economic crisis is hurting Black workers and families the most.

Finally, just as night follows day, the so-called deficit hawks are starting to emerge the moment it appears that Democrats could come back into power.

  • From Jared Bernstein in the Washington Post: “Should Joe Biden win the election, the moment he puts his hand on the Bible on Inauguration Day, the Republican Party will suddenly remember that there is nothing more threatening to America than budget deficits.”
  • Important reminder from Groundwork’s Angela Hanks: “Stacked up against questions about the debt, meaningful investments to improve people’s lives should win every time. Massive investment right now will help the economy growth overall, and if we pursue austerity, people will suffer and we will have a slower, more painful recovery across the board.”

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.