Warnings by medical professionals that this weekend’s gatherings could produce much more disastrous infections than Memorial Day events mean this is barely a time for national celebration.
While everyone may be encouraged that the jobless rate surprisingly slipped to 11.1% in June, the news of rising cases and cities under siege that Trump dismissed will make Thursday’s data a false dawn. Bars, restaurants and shops are closing again across the country — including in California, which is facing a prolonged disaster — in a manner that could again surge job losses and stifle the rebound which Trump is willing to inflate beyond any connection with reality to boost 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 mean 24 hours as 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 exactly what are becoming daily examples of a dereliction of duty, the President massively misrepresented hawaii 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 such as 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 although his state recorded a brand new 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 significantly 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’d now require all Texans to wear a mask when out in public when they were from counties where more than 20 coronavirus cases had been recorded. He showed Texans graphs showing rocketing infection 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 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 a good example by wearing one prior to the cameras, many experts are expectant of 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 disease medical practitioner at Boston Medical Center, told the Infectious Diseases Society of America.
Dr. Peter Hotez, an infectious diseases specialist who leads the institution 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 would have been a problem for the US contributed to too little preparedness, assisting to trigger the worst financial crisis since the Great Depression.
Trump didn’t stay to answer questions about herpes, 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 disease expert Anthony Fauci that the virus is surging and could produce case counts of 100,000 new infections each 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 as US media outlets press the White House for him to talk with 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,” 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 since 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 pay attention to 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 how many lives lost, Biden added: “That’s a direct consequence of Donald Trump’s bungled leadership and a totally mismanaged crisis from the start.”