Navigating Coronavirus — September 14

In today’s email, we run down the latest news on all the ways Trump is interfering in the work of career scientists and experts and trying to strong-arm them to help his own political interests, instead of the public interest, even as the outbreak continues to explode. We also look at how Trump and McConnell have given up on needed economic aid, making the recession deeper and more painful for Americans.

Read on for today’s Navigating Coronavirus…

It’s been 200 DAYS since President Trump said we’d soon have zero cases in the U.S. We now have 6.7 million cases and more than 198,000 deaths.

THE LATEST…

TRUMP CONTINUES IGNORING THE PANDEMIC TO FOCUS ON HIS OWN POLITICAL INTERESTS, AND IT’S PUTTING LIVES AT RISK.

President Trump held an indoor rally in Nevada last night, flouting state and local ordinances and putting thousands in danger of exposure to coronavirus. This is just the latest in Trump putting his own political interests above public health — and it shows how far he will go to risk lives for his own ego.

  • 🔥 NEVADA GOVERNOR >> “President Donald Trump is taking reckless and selfish actions that are putting countless lives in danger here in Nevada. Despite reports from his own White House, despite local officials in Southern & Northern Nevada reiterating to the venues the existing restrictions in State emergency directives, tonight, the President is knowingly packing thousands into an indoor venue to hold a political rally. The President appears to have forgotten that this country is still in the middle of a global pandemic.”
  • MORE >> “Early on in this crisis, when it came time to exhibit real leadership and make difficult decisions to protect the American people, he failed to develop a unified national response strategy. To put it bluntly: he didn’t have the guts to make tough choices — he left that to governors and the states. Now he’s decided he doesn’t have to respect our State’s laws. As usual, he doesn’t believe the rules apply to him. Instead, he came into our State and blatantly disregarded the emergency directives and tough choices made to fight this pandemic and begin reopening our economy by hosting an indoor gathering that’s categorized as ‘high risk’ according to his own CDC. This is an insult to every Nevadan who has followed the directives, made sacrifices, and put their neighbors before themselves.”

TRUMP IS TRYING TO SILENCE EXPERTS AS HE KNOWINGLY DECEIVES AMERICANS ABOUT THE SEVERITY OF CORONAVIRUS.

Trump knew how deadly coronavirus was as early as February, but he deceived Americans — letting it spread unchecked and kill nearly 200,000 people in the U.S. And he’s still trying to hide the truth from the public while breaking with his own public health experts at every turn. But there’s a growing chorus of scientists and experts speaking out against it.

  • SCIENTISTS PUSH BACK >> “One of the world’s oldest and best-known medical journals Friday slammed President Trump’s ‘inconsistent and incoherent national response’ to the novel coronavirus pandemic and accused the administration of relegating the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to a ‘nominal’ role.” (Washington Post)
  • MORE >> “The strongly worded critique highlights mounting frustration with the administration’s response among some of the world’s top medical researchers. Medical journals sometimes run signed editorials that take political stances, but rarely do publications with the Lancet’s influence use the full weight of their editorial boards to call for a president to be voted out of office.”
  • WHAT TRUMP’S SCIENCE ADVISORS ARE SAYING >>
  • DR. FAUCI: ‘When you downplay something that is really a threat, that isn’t a good thing’
  • ALSO DR. FAUCI: ‘I have to disagree’ with Trump saying U.S. is rounding the corner on coronavirus
  • NIH DIRECTOR, Francis Collins, on Trump’s refusal to comply with public health measures: “I’m pretty puzzled and rather disheartened” by Trump rally

But as always, Trump is increasing pressure across the executive branch for political gain. He’s strong-arming independent agencies to mislead the public on unproven treatments, rush out a vaccine before it’s safe, and even manipulate COVID-19 data to paint a rosier picture. The FDA even had to release an op-ed this weekend to try to salvage public trust that the president has destroyed.

  • THE LATEST BOMBSHELL >> “Trump officials interfered with CDC reports on Covid-19”
  • MORE >> “‘Health Official Reportedly Pressured CDC To Alter COVID-19 Info To Back President’: A politically appointed Health and Human Services official with no medical background has been orchestrating an operation to pressure scientists and other officials of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to use sunnier language in their COVID-19 reports to reflect well on President Donald Trump” (Huffington Post)
  • EVEN MORE >> “Political appointees at the Department of Health and Human Services have sought to change, delay and prevent the release of reports about the coronavirus by the CDC because they were viewed as undermining President Trump’s message that the pandemic is under control.” (Washington Post)
  • NYT: “Trump Pressed for Plasma Therapy. Officials Worry, Is an Unvetted Vaccine Next?”
  • “New details of how the president has demanded faster action from health agencies help explain the intensifying concern that he could demand pre-Election Day approval of a vaccine.”
  • Washington Post: “‘At USAID, Juggling Political Priorities and Pandemic Response’”: Aggressive oversight of the aid agency by political appointees at the White House and the State Department has delayed humanitarian aid when the world needs it most.

TRUMP’S CORONAVIRUS COVER UP AND DENIAL OF SCIENCE HAVE LEFT THE COUNTRY REELING WITH NO END IN SIGHT.

Trump’s failed response has left us fighting blind against the virus. Cases are still surging across the country with new hot spots — particularly on college campuses — as states, schools, and health care workers struggle to contain the virus without adequate supplies and testing.

  • NYT: “New Cases Have Reached Record Levels in the Midwest”
  • NYT: “Colleges are now hot spots, as nursing homes and meatpacking plants were earlier in the pandemic.”
  • MORE >> “All Michigan State students asked to quarantine due to ‘exponential growth’ of COVID-19”

It’s unrealistic to think that we’ll be able to stop outbreaks like these without proper public health measures and enough supplies. But this isn’t a priority for the Trump administration — they’d rather just pretend it’s not happening.

  • Politico: “Spotty virus tracking in schools is leaving millions in the dark on infection rates”
  • USA Today: “Scarcity of key material squeezes manufacturing of medical masks for COVID-19 protections”

ECONOMIC CRISIS IN CONTEXT…

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 the continued need for massive government support that Trump and his allies are blocking.

After their woefully inadequate COVID-19 response bill failed to pass the Senate, Trump and his allies now seem to be giving up on passing desperately-needed worker and economic support — but that will have devastating results.

  • Last week we learned that another 1.7 million workers filed for unemployment last week as Trump’s economy continues to deteriorate. This is a moment for us to be dialing up federal investments and support — not allowing them to get cut off.
  • Unemployment claims have now risen in each of the last four weeks, rehiring has slowed, and temporary job losses are increasingly becoming permanent.
  • READ >> “A huge jobs deficit remains, by any measure.” (via EPI)
  • Trump’s weak and unworkable executive actions are no substitute for strong action by Congress — and funding is already running out, leaving millions of Americans uncertain and without the support they need to keep their heads above water.
  • Not only did Trump’s proposal cut the incomes of unemployed workers by $1,200 a month, but states continue having trouble actually implementing it.
  • And his so-called payroll tax cuts “fizzled” as companies found it “more trouble than it’s worth.” Plus, the federal employees it was forced upon are going to be forced to repay it next year.
  • Trump and his allies must come back to the table to restore workers’ incomes and start getting the economy back on track — or this economy is going to continue to get worse.

Trump’s top scientists continue to disagree with Trump’s claims that we’ve “rounded the corner” on COVID-19, which highlights how Trump’s bungling of this public health crisis has made this economic crisis far deeper and longer than it needed to be.

  • Trump wanted people to think that COVID-19 was no longer a threat and the economy could “re-open,” but workers and the economy are now paying the price as the pandemic surged and cut the legs out from under any potential recovery.
  • The economy is made up of people, not massive corporations or the stock market — and we won’t turn the corner on the economic crisis until workers and families feel safe and the pandemic is truly beaten back.

REMINDER: The stock market is not the economy. Check out this op-ed from Heather Boushey in the Washington Post: “The stock market is detached from economic reality. A reckoning is coming.”

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

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