Navigating Coronavirus — September 23

In today’s email, we have new polling on the pandemic and economic crisis it has sparked, including new numbers on Trump’s politicization of the vaccine process. We also look at the ominous warnings of what’s to come now that we have officially exceeded 200,000 deaths — a number that could double by year’s end — and we look at how rushing into a partisan SCOTUS confirmation would prevent needed action on economic aid.

Read on for today’s Navigating Coronavirus…

It’s been 209 days since President Trump said we’d soon have zero cases in the U.S. We now have more than 7.1 million cases and 205,000 deaths.




But this week, Trump actually said coronavirus “affects virtually nobody” — a cruel reminder to the family and loved ones of those 200,000 Americans that the president doesn’t care and he’s not even trying to save lives anymore.

  • Dr. Syra Madad, senior director of the systemwide special pathogens program at New York City Health + Hospitals: “Not only are these real people, but these are families that are suffering because they’ve lost loved ones, or they’re dealing with a loved one that has long-term health issues because of COVID-19. We’re only seeing the tip of the iceberg. We’re only nine months into this pandemic.”
  • Madad: “That was avoidable, and we’ve made significant mistakes as a nation. We have been behind the eight ball from the very beginning.”
  • Catherine Troisi, an infectious disease epidemiologist at UTHealth School of Public Health: “We absolutely, positively could have done better. There have been mistakes all along the way, and we’re still making some mistakes,” she said, adding that there is mixed messaging at the national and state level.”
  • Dr. Christopher Murray, director of the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation at the University of Washington: “The worst is yet to come.”
  • GRIM OUTLOOK >> Trump may give himself an “A+” on handling the pandemic, but more than 800 Americans continue to die each day as half of the country reports rising case numbers. The death toll projections are also alarming: the same model that accurately predicted we’d reach 200,000 deaths this fall is now forecasting the death toll will climb to 378,000 by January 1.
  • Dr. Fauci on Trump grading his Covid-19 response as A+: “Take a look at the numbers and make up your own mind”
  • Washington Post: “Progress in slowing the march of the novel coronavirus has stalled in much of the United States, and the pathogen is spreading at dangerous rates […] Twenty-seven states and Puerto Rico have shown an increase in the seven-day average of new confirmed cases since the final week of August”
  • IT DOESN’T HAVE TO BE THIS WAY >> Trump still has no strategy to control the spread — he is still overruling experts and eroding trust in public health while prioritizing his reelection and a partisan Supreme Court power grab.
  • Steve Doocy on Fox News: “The president and his team like the fact that [the SCOTUS vacancy] is changing the subject from coronavirus.”
  • CNN: “Increasing mask use to 95% can save nearly 115,000 lives, reducing that expected number of deaths by 62.7%,” the IHME said.


  • Axios: “The CDC’s crumbling reputation: Concerns about the CDC’s competence and politicization have only grown as the pandemic rages on.”
  • Washington Post: “[The FDA] is issuing the guidance to boost transparency and public trust as it approaches the momentous decision of whether a prospective vaccine is safe and effective. Public health experts are increasingly worried that President Trump’s repeated predictions of a coronavirus vaccine by Nov. 3, coupled with the administration’s interference in federal science agencies, may prompt Americans to reject any vaccine as rushed and potentially tainted.


As Trump and Republicans drop everything to focus on rushing a partisan Supreme Court nomination before the election, Americans still overwhelmingly say the pandemic should be their top priority.

MORE >> Majorities continue to think America’s response to the pandemic has been worse than other countries, including a growing number of Republicans — and by 20 points (60% to 40%), Americans say Trump made the pandemic worse than it needed to be.

Americans’ top concern with Trump’s handling of the pandemic economy is that he ignored experts to reopen too soon, which cost more jobs and will cost even more if it happens again. Notably, we found it’s important to respond to Trump on the economy with an argument for restoring the economy by actually addressing the pandemic.

MORE ON THE ECONOMY >> Only Republicans express more confidence than unease with their personal financial situation right now.

HEADS UP >> While there’s still strong support for expanded unemployment benefits, Americans are split on who to blame — 43% say the blame falls on Democrats while 46% say Republicans are to blame for the lack of progress.


Trump and his Senate allies should be focused on stamping out this pandemic and helping the families devastated by the economic crisis that Trump has exacerbated and deepened — not jamming another extreme conservative nominee onto the Supreme Court.

  • The House passed legislation more than four months ago to protect the incomes of unemployed workers and extend key lifelines for workers and families — and Trump and McConnell have done nothing but delay and obstruct.
  • If they continue ignoring these crises and spend the coming weeks focused solely on a Supreme Court seat that should be left for the next administration to fill, these crises will only get worse.
  • The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear arguments on the ACA in November, and if an extreme conservative justice is jammed through the Senate, then there is a very real threat it will be overturned.
  • Millions of families have already lost their jobs and their access to health care during this pandemic and economic crisis, and if the ACA is overturned, this will get so much worse.
  • When workers can access health care and can’t be discriminated against because they have pre-existing conditions, their economic well-being and power in the workplace are improved — which is good for them and strengthens the economy.

Trump’s refusal to help workers and families is having a devastating effect on the economy, and it’s going to keep getting worse.

  • “I don’t think we can turn too quickly to things like building worker power, increasing wages, reducing inequality, and taxing rich people.”

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.