Monday, March 09, 2020

Ain't You Thankful for a Stable Genius in Charge of a Flu Pandemic?

A flu panic is bad enough. Having a giant baby in charge of the response is worse.

Trump at the CDC last Friday,
dressed for serious science
Has Trump done anything right since the coronavirus got traction in China and immediately jumped just about everywhere else? Has he made anything better? He appointed the Vice President in Charge of Aping (bless his heart!) to lead the medical response, which sent guffaws through the political bleachers. He's continued to make things worse through ignorance, denial, and deflection.

Finally, last week (Feb. 26), Trump's HHS Secretary Alex Azar told a congressional committee: “As of today, I can announce that the CDC has begun working with health departments in five cities to use its flu surveillance network to begin testing individuals with flu-like symptoms for the Chinese coronavirus.” Wait. We have a "flue surveillance network" that's only just been activated and only in five cities?

Trump's White House knew there was a developing Chinese epidemic as far back as the middle of December. They did virtually nothing. When the Chinese government essentially shut down Wuhan and several other Chinese cities January 23, Trump issued a travel restriction on non-citizens coming directly from China -- never mind US citizens who came on home showing no symptoms but who were carrying a virus that liked to jump hosts before there were symptoms, and travelers who were coming from Europe or elsewhere but who had recently been in Wuhan or had close contact with someone who was there. I heard someone on TeeVee say that Trump's "public health emergency" clampdown on travelers from China was his only right move so far. You agree?

In the early days of February, the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) got its diagnostic test up and running. Strict guidelines about who could get tested -- only those with recent travel to China or those who had come into contact with a confirmed infection. No other test existed yet (in sufficient numbers), and guess what? The CDC's test didn't actually work. No kidding. Because the test contained "an unspecified problem with a compound that prompted inconclusive results" (Ashley Parker et al.). 
"Then came the testing errors, as some labs began reporting inconclusive results from the CDC kits. The problem with tests quickly snowballed, becoming a self-perpetuating cycle. Because the tests were faulty and the testing criteria so limited, the government was missing a lot of the cases because it couldn’t scale up. Some in the administration didn’t initially take the crisis more seriously, in part, because it appeared that the case count was low." (Parker)
At the White House, Trump was all like "it's over in China and we've got China bottled up." So by not acknowledging a problem, or even understanding what a pandemic is and how it operates, time frittered away when testing kits (accurate testing kits) should have been stockpiled and the medical infrastructure prepared for mass hospitalizations and a mounting death toll among the elderly. “The Coronavirus is very much under control in the USA,” Twitterman bragged in late February — and then became an active font of "misinformation and confusion, further muddling his administration’s response" (Parker).

Just last Friday, visiting the CDC in Atlanta, Trump claimed, incorrectly, that “Anybody that needs a test, gets a test. They’re there. They have the tests. And the tests are beautiful.” When something's "beautiful," that's Trump-speak for an outright lie or shorthand for "I haven't got a clue what I'm talking about." His administration had sent government workers with no protective gear whatsoever to welcome American refugees from an infected petri dish of a cruise ship, and then those workers returned to their scattered home-bases, some of them no doubt taking the incubating virus with them.

(You see how the alien creatures in the Alien movies are perfect metaphors for this virus.)

Trump, at a Feb. 26 news conference: “And again, when you have 15 people, and the 15 within a couple of days is going to be down to close to zero, that’s a pretty good job we’ve done.”

On March 4th, Trump told Hannity, "I think the 3.4 percent [World Health Org's projected death rate from coronavirus infection] is really a false number — and this is just my hunch — but based on a lot of conversations with a lot of people that do this, because a lot of people will have this and it's very mild, they'll get better very rapidly. They don't even see a doctor. They don't even call a doctor. You never hear about those people."

Trump's hunches are ineffably tied to Trump self-interest.

March 6th, at the CDC in Atlanta, Trump said, "I didn't know people died from the flu." Not making that up.

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