Navigating Coronavirus — September 9
In today’s email, we look at the late-summer coronavirus explosion, with special focus on the increase in “super spreader” events like Trump’s rally Tuesday in North Carolina. We also have the latest on expert warnings against Trump’s rush for a vaccine, as well as new poll analysis from Navigator on some trends over the summer. Finally, we look at the Senate GOP’s new coronavirus bill, which cuts unemployment benefits significantly while failing to adequately address this economic crisis.
Read on for today’s Navigating Coronavirus…
Message guidance on the latest developments with President Trump’s handling of the crisis.
AFTER A DEADLY SUMMER, TRUMP IS STILL PRETENDING THE VIRUS DOESN’T EXIST — EVEN AS EXPERTS WARN ABOUT FALL SURGES.
Coronavirus cases quadrupled this summer, more than 37,000 infections have been reported at colleges in all 50 states, and cases are still rising in 22 states as experts warn the fall outlook is bleak. Yet, Trump is still downplaying the virus and pretending it doesn’t exist — with masks and social distancing nowhere to be found at his campaign rally Tuesday.
- DEADLY SUMMER >> “From Memorial Day weekend through the unofficial end of the season Monday, the number of Americans who died of COVID-19 shot up from just less than 100,000 to more than 186,000, according to data tracked by The Washington Post, as infections nearly quadrupled to upward of 6.2 million.”
- KIDS ARE NOT IMMUNE: More than half a million kids in the U.S. have now contracted COVID-19. Cases among children rose 16% in the first two weeks of schools reopening, in part because a lack of testing created a blindspot and let the virus spread in schools and day care centers.
- OMINOUS OUTLOOK >> “Experts project autumn surge in coronavirus cases, with a peak after Election Day”
- Politico: “‘Once again, U.S. at pandemic crossroads’: The United States has a narrow window to force the coronavirus into a partial retreat before the one-two punch of school openings and colder weather brings a widely feared rebound. It’s blowing it, again.”
So many new cases can be traced back to large events, where public health guidelines have largely been ignored. Trump has done nothing to prevent this — in fact, he’s encouraged the spread of the virus by hosting a couple of his own, including a rally in North Carolina on Tuesday with few masks and no social distancing where guests were warned they assume their own risk of getting infected.
SUPER SPREADER EVENTS >>
- MOTORCYCLE RALLY: “‘Report: Sturgis Motorcycle Rally May Have Caused Over 250,000 Coronavirus Cases”
- Over 250,000 reported coronavirus cases from August 2 to September 2 are due to the rally — nearly 20% of the national cases during that time period, according to Andrew Friedson, one of the authors of the report.
- BIG PARTIES: “WVU Cancels In-Person Classes After Reports Of Large Parties Over Labor Day Weekend”
- “West Virginia University enrolls nearly 30,000 students across all its campuses and programs. The state had nearly 11,600 confirmed cases of the coronavirus as of Monday afternoon” (NBC)
- COLLEGE TOWNS: “In a New York Times review of 203 counties in the country where students comprise at least 10 percent of the population, about half experienced their worst weeks of the pandemic since Aug. 1. In about half of those, figures showed the number of new infections is peaking right now.”
Trump isn’t accepting reality — he continues to downplay the severity and spread of coronavirus. Now he’s ending critical work fighting the virus and railing against masks.
- Politico: “The U.S. Agency for International Development, which has been on the front lines of the battle with the coronavirus, is about to shut down the task force it set up to tackle the still-ongoing pandemic.”
- CNN: “Trump tells reporter to take mask off during briefing”
TRUMP CLASHES WITH EXPERTS AS HE PROMISES IMMINENT VACCINE AS A HAIL MARY TO HELP HIS RE-ELECTION.
Public health experts are raising serious concerns about the safety and effectiveness of a vaccine that could be rushed to market before the 2020 election without finishing clinical trials. But Trump is more focused on his own political prospects than the public’s safety, so he continues to promote a false and potentially dangerous vaccine promise.
- CNN: “Another federal official raises questions about Trump’s vaccine timeline”
- “‘I don’t know any scientist involved in this effort who thinks we will be getting shots into arms any time before Election Day,’ said the official, who is familiar with Operation Warp Speed, the federal government’s effort to develop coronavirus vaccines.”
As Trump politicizes this process, he is undermining public trust in the vaccine, which could put even more Americans at risk. In turn, vaccine makers have stepped up to push back and aim to restore confidence.
- Dr. Fauci: “And Fauci acknowledged that cutting a trial short could undermine public confidence in COVID vaccines. One American in three is unwilling to get a COVID vaccine, according to a recent Gallup Poll.”
- Former CDC director, Dr. Tom Frieden: “A vaccine could be the best tool we have to fight Covid. That’s why it’s so important we get it right and don’t cut any corners on safety. If people don’t trust the vaccine, we risk one step forward and many steps back.”
- Bloomberg: “Vaccine Makers Plan Public Stance to Counter Pressure on FDA”
NEW NAVIGATOR TREND ANALYSIS…
- Even though it remains deeply underwater, approval of Trump’s handling of the pandemic ticked up slightly during the month of August compared to July, driven by gains among seniors, independents, and whites. Similar trends can be seen in Trump’s approval across other issues and overall. But Democrats continue to lead Trump by double digits on who Americans trust to handle the pandemic response.
- BE SMART >> This isn’t a sign of some Trump surge; it just suggests at least some election year consolidation among demographic groups typically favorable to the president. His numbers among independents, in fact, remain deeply underwater — and overall he continues to hover around just 40% approval.
- A majority of Americans (51%) continue to say we need more aggressive social distancing. This number is basically the same as in March, but in late spring, it had ticked downward only to surge again in late summer.
- BE SMART >> Americans still are deeply concerned about the pandemic and scenes of packed rally crowds and reports of campuses crowding do not match the reality of what most people think should be happening right now. The public remains in favor of taking this seriously with social distancing.
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 Senate Republicans’ proposal to cut the incomes of 30 million unemployed workers.
McConnell unveiled his “skinny” coronavirus response bill, which doubles down on Trump’s attempts to cut the incomes of unemployed workers by $1,200 a month and make this crisis far worse and longer-lasting than it needs to be.
- Democrats have already said this bill is a non-starter — and that is exactly the right approach for anyone concerned about workers, families, and the economy.
- Instead of focusing on helping struggling workers and families, McConnell’s bill is focused on protecting massive corporations and shielding them from liability for putting their workers and customers in danger.
- We are already seeing the initial impacts of Trump’s cuts to income as consumer confidence fell, companies are planning more massive layoffs, and more and more economists are saying this economic crisis is likely to last longer than needed. McConell’s Senate bill would only double down on this failed approach.
- Remember: Nearly 40% of cash-strapped Americans can’t last a month on savings, and we are already seeing increases in debt, eviction, and hunger as this crisis lasts longer and longer.
- READ >> Bloomberg: “Summer’s Over. Renew Pandemic Jobless Benefits Now”
Trump is acting like the economy has recovered, but last week’s jobs report highlighted that millions are still suffering from Great Depression-level unemployment and an economic crisis that will only get worse if emergency unemployment benefits aren’t restored.
- What we learned from last Friday’s jobs report is that rehiring has slowed and more and more temporary job losses are now becoming permanent as concerns grow about Trump and his allies’ refusal to support additional aggressive legislation.
- While the number of workers temporarily laid off decreased by 3.1 million in August, a total of 3.4 million workers have now experienced permanent job losses, up from 2.9 million in July,
- The economy had nearly 12 million fewer jobs in August than it did in February — that’s an economy in crisis, not one to gloat about.
- Unemployment remains in double digits for Black, Asian, and Hispanic populations and the unemployment rate for Black men remains at a catastrophic 13.2%.
- Reminder: The latest jobs report continues to reflect Trump’s dangerous push to “reopen the economy,” and doesn’t yet account for the full extent of the economic damage being done by the cutoff of emergency unemployment benefits.
Navigating Coronavirus is a joint project of Governing for Impact, Groundwork Collaborative, The Hub Project, and Navigator Research.
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