None with this will stop Trump from maneuvering to Mount Rushmore on Friday to bracket himself along side the carved likenesses of four of America’s greatest Presidents for an early Independence Day celebration that will ignore his own government’s social distancing guidelines. Then Trump will return to Washington to watch the federal government’s July 4 fireworks spectacular that is going ahead, even though it could draw a large number of people in to downtown and imperil the city’s fragile resurgence from its coronavirus nightmare.
Warnings by doctors that this weekend’s gatherings could produce much more disastrous infections than Memorial Day events mean this is scarcely a time for national celebration.
That’s why Trump’s hyperbolic and misleading embrace of encouraging unemployment figures on Thursday — he could barely wait an hour after their release before materializing for a boastful soliloquy in the White House briefing room — seems so off key and selective. The President’s desperation to tout some good news after so many grim weeks of controversy mostly served to exemplify the depth of their own political plight against a backdrop of what may seem like an never-ending fight against the herpes virus. The White House’s victory lap — when not exactly 130,000 Americans are dead in a pandemic Trump initially ignored, then mismanaged, then ignored again — exemplifies its perverse insistence to concentrate only on the economic pain caused by the national crisis as opposed to infections which are rising considerably.
While every one can be encouraged that the jobless rate surprisingly slipped to 11.1% in June, the headlines of rising cases and cities under siege that Trump dismissed could make Thursday’s data a false dawn. Bars, restaurants and shops are closing again in the united states — including in California, which is facing an extended disaster — in a way that could again surge job losses and stifle the rebound which Trump is prepared to inflate beyond any reference to reality to enhance his reelection hopes.
Trump appeared before reporters just hours following the US reached its worst-ever daily total of new infections of 51,174 on Wednesday. That record would only stand for 24 hours because the US broke its record again with 51,504 new cases reported late Thursday.
But the President had other records on his mind.
“There’s not been anything like this — record setting. It was just put out that the United States economy added almost 5 million jobs in the month of June, shattering all expectations,” the President crowed. “Today’s announcement proves that our economy is roaring back.”
In what are becoming daily types of a dereliction of duty, the President massively misrepresented the state of the pandemic.
“The crisis is being handled. … Some areas that were very hard-hit are now doing very well. Some were doing very well, and we thought they may be gone and they flare up, and we’re putting out the fires,” that he said.
The dispiriting data on the pandemic that poured just like a gusher on Thursday gave the lie to Trump’s assessment that the crisis is being “handled.”
Florida Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis, one of Trump’s most aggressive partners in pushing toward swift economic openings that defied US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention guidelines, is insisting that he won’t close down the economy despite the fact that his state recorded a fresh record of 10,000 new cases on Thursday. Texas came in with nearly 8,000 more new cases, just a few lacking its worst-ever day on Wednesday. Arizona reported a lot more than 3,000 new infections Thursday as a result of its worst day so far on Wednesday when it reported more than 4,800.
In a landmark move that broke with the President’s resistance to mandates, Texas Gov. Greg Abbott, a Republican, said he would now require all Texans to wear a mask when out in public places if they were from counties where a lot more than 20 coronavirus cases have been recorded. He showed Texans graphs showing rocketing disease rates, positivity rates for tests and hospitalizations.
“These numbers reveal a very stark reality. Covid-19 is not going away. In fact, it is getting worse,” Abbott said.
Another certainly one of Trump’s band of early opening Republican governors, Brian Kemp of Georgia, said people should “do the right thing” and wear a mask.
While Trump will not set an illustration by wearing one ahead of the cameras, many experts are expecting things to worsen still.
“It’s set up a perfect storm: the combination of travel, the combination of reopening — perhaps in some cases, too early — and the combination of people not necessarily following some of these preventive guidelines,” Dr. Joshua Barocas, an infectious illness physician at Boston Medical Center, told the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious diseases specialist who leads the college of tropical medicine at Baylor, warned that Texas, Arizona and Florida are close to entering “apocalyptic” territory in terms of new infections.
‘Wrong on both fronts’
Even for a President who makes a habit of framing reality to fit his political priorities, Trump’s comments about the economy on Thursday were stunning, and in the circumstances, callous. But there were also flickering signs of anxiety in Trump’s bravado. At one point, he warned that if presumptive Democratic nominee Joe Biden won the presidency, there would be an economic crash of 1929 proportions. Trump did not apparently spot the irony that his denial that the pandemic will be a problem for the US contributed to too little preparedness, helping trigger the worst overall economy since the Great Depression.
Trump did not stay to answer questions concerning the virus, but left Treasury Secretary Steven Mnuchin and Director of the National Economic Council Larry Kudlow to downplay scary warnings by the government’s top infectious illness expert Anthony Fauci that the virus is surging and may produce case counts of 100,000 new infections per day.
“I think what Dr. Fauci said is that if people don’t take these things seriously, that the numbers could continue to spike,” Mnuchin said.
Fauci, banished to UK radio, even while US media outlets press the White House for him to speak to Americans, directly contradicted Trump.
“In the United States, even in the most strict lockdowns, only about 50% of the country locked down — that allowed for the perpetuation of the outbreak, which we never did get under very good control,” Fauci told BBC Radio 4’s flagship “Today” program.
“The problem we’re facing now is the attempt to reopen or open the government and get it back to some form of normality. We’re seeing very disturbing spikes in different individual states in the United States,” that he added.
Another top government health official, Adm. Dr. Brett Giroir, blew a hole in another one of Trump’s falsehoods — the claim that cases are merely going up as the US is doing more coronavirus testing.
“There is no question that the more testing you get, the more you will uncover — but we do believe this is a real increase in cases, because the percent positives are going up. So, this is real increases in cases,” Giroir told the House Select Committee on the Coronavirus Crisis on Thursday.
Biden accused Trump of attempting to move on from the crisis to focus on his reelection bid.
“Trump wants to declare his health crisis over and unemployment solved. Unfortunately, he’s wrong on both fronts,” the former vice president said on Thursday. Noting the number of lives lost, Biden added: “That’s a direct consequence of Donald Trump’s bungled leadership and a totally mismanaged crisis from the start.”