The new week and next month begins with deaths from the pandemic continuing to rise around the globe and in the United States where it has sadly surpassed 1,000 in New York alone. There are now 140,000 cases and 2,400 deaths across the US. Faced with such grim numbers after weeks of downplaying the risks, President Trump seems to have finally come to his senses with the urgency of the situation and his tone has now completely changed. He can’t lie, hide, or deflect numbers like these any more says it will be a “very, very painful next two weeks.” The White House starts to socialize that an astonishing 100-240K Americans may die before it is all over. Not long ago he had said the number of cases would soon “be down to close to zero”. The President extends his recommended voluntary shutdown by another three weeks, instead of hoping to reopen American by Easter as he tendered just a week ago. More than 285 million Americans across 40 states have been ordered to shelter-in-place.
Our hero of the moment, Dr. Anthony Fauci, who is the government’s top infectious disease expert from the NIH and the most widely respected member of the task force, confirms that 100K deaths is a best case scenario. He is then given a security detail due to threats likely incited by pro-Trump right-wing bloggers who have disparaged him for showing up Trump. Another study says that without social distancing and a virtual shutdown of the economy the number of fatalities could be in the low millions. Nevertheless, Trump is quoted as saying “I’ve gotten great marks on what we’ve done with respect to this” despite getting a slow start.
The Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo begins begging for respirators, personal protection equipment, and volunteers as more than 500 are dying each day across his state. The field hospital in NYC’s Central Park grows as the U.S. military agrees to take over its staffing. Cuomo orders the national guard to take respirators from those facilities who aren’t using them. Trump, without any proof as usual, in one of his daily briefings makes the accusation that some hospitals must be letting masks get stolen by their staffs and taken out the back door. Then he goes on to say he will not wear one despite what others are saying Americans should start doing to slow the spread. With a shortage of masks healthcare workers and ordinary American families start making their own.
When governors complain about the lack of help from the White House, Trump who takes great pleasure in calling himself a “wartime president” claims that the federal government is merely a “backup” for state governments. He goes on to say that some states don’t actually need as many ventilators as they say they do. Some network TV and radio stations decide to no longer broadcast the daily briefings which have become a circus of propaganda with Trump attacking the press while members of his task force congratulate him on what a great job he has been doing, all while other members watch their words to Americans ever so carefully to avoid offending the President.
The captain of a U.S. aircraft carrier in the Pacific, Commander Crozier, pleads with the Pentagon to evacuate his 5,000 member crew as hundreds have become infected or sick. He is then relieved of duty by acting Navy Secretary Modley for publicizing the plight of his crew and going around his commanders. Crozier himself is then found to be infected. Then the acting head of Navy flies to Guam to disparage the former captain in front of his men and women on his previous ship and says the captain was “naïve or stupid.” Modley then walks it back, then himself is forced out by DoD Chief Esper.
Despite the country reeling from a pandemic, the Trump administration makes time to roll back vehicle mileage standards and emissions limits put into affect to help combat climate change by the Obama administration. Is it completely loss on them that carbon emissions from transportation sources are contributing a sick planet that may create a decades-long global emergency far worse than that from the present pandemic?
At the end of the week Trump fires Michael Atkinson who was the inspector general that handled the whistleblower complaint and notified Congress which then triggered Trump’s impeachment.
The week begins with the Surgeon General Jerome Adams warning the public that the upcoming week “would be the saddest week of most Americans’ lives approaching the tragedies of Pearl Harbor and 9/11.” President Trump’s mood was somber, in stark contrast to that of only a few weeks ago, when he now says the next two weeks “are going to be very difficult.”
A report surfaces that Trump’s trade adviser Pater Navarro prepared two memos for the President’s National Security Council in January and February warning of a potential catastrophe. Yet, Trump said as late as March that nobody could have predicted a pandemic or that something like this could ever happen.
The White House orders the nation’s top health experts not to appear on CNN after the news network said it would no longer broadcast the entire briefings by the Pandemic Task Force headed by V.P. Pence. The near daily briefings have turned into a campaign rally by the President who routinely berates and blames anyone who questions his statements or confronts his lies. Later the President tweets that the ratings for the briefings are “through the roof” as if this was all just a fun blockbuster movie featuring Trump and Friends.
Feeling the heat from a botched response, Trump lashes out and blames the World Health Organization and threatens to withhold funding. He claims that it was the WHO that missed the call on the pandemic and is responsible. The WHO began communicating and working with the CDC in early January, all while during that month and February the President was claiming that there was little to worry about and what few cases we had would “soon be down to zero.” It was Trump who blew it, not the WHO. Before blaming the WHO, Trump had cycled through attacking the Democrat Governors, China, President Obama, Congress, various federal agencies, and of course the fake news media.
Next the President turns his ire on the Pentagon’s Inspector General Glenn Fine who previously was selected to oversee the $2T pandemic response spending under the CARES act approve by Congress. Trump is now seen to be openly flouting the provisions the White House agreed to oversight of the funds to be dispersed by the CARES act. This follows Trump’s sacking last week of Michael Atkinson who was the IG of the intelligence community and responsible for initiating the Ukraine investigation due to a whistleblower. Trump’s next target to disparate was the deputy inspector general of HHS, Christi Grimm, who recently reported that hospitals were facing severe shortages of testing supplies and protective gear needed, disputing the claims of the President that there was no problem with such. For being a proclaimed conservative, Trump’s avoidance of governance, accountability and responsibility clearly demonstrates he is anything but a conservative. He after all said that “he takes no responsibility at all” for a lack of testing in response to a reporter’s question and more recently claimed that “he could not have done it any better.”
During a national emergency, with thousands of American dying and millions suffering, it is the perfect time for the President to once again shake up the White House press team. This time Press Secretary Stephanie Grisham is removed less than 9 months on the job in which she never held a formal press briefing. Trump’s fourth, yes fourth Press Secretary, will be Kayleigh McEnany who replaces Grisham who replaced Sarah Sanders who replaced Sean Spicer. Her qualifications to speak honestly with authority to Americans? She was a top Trump campaign spokesperson.
The COVID-19 death toll at the start of the week was 9,000 with 1,000 dying per day. By the end of the week both had doubled with over 20,000 deaths at a heartbreaking rate of 2,000. Nearly half of these in one state alone, New York. The total in NYC surpasses the dead from the 9/11 terror attacks. The city begins burying bodies in a mass grave as morgues, funeral homes and mortuaries are at capacity. Even a tiger in NYC’s Bronx Zoo contracts coronavirus in the first known transmission from humans back to animals. At the end of the week over the Easter weekend nearly 4,000 Americans die. New hotspots worsen in Michigan, Louisiana, and Florida, and especially in nursing homes where in some cases more than half of their residents and staff have become infected with dozens dying. However, some states report that new infections and hospital admissions have leveled off giving hope that social distancing is working and that the worst case scenarios of 100-200K dead Americans will be averted. By the end of the week American deaths surpass that of Italy to become the worst.
New reports surface confirming that the U.S. wasted two months of preparation and ordering supplies and ramping up testing from the time it was clear there was global contagion in January. As a consequence, we have had to shutdown the economy where another 6.6 million Americans applied for unemployment this week bringing the total number of claims to over 17 million. Economists prepare us for a final unemployment of some 30-40 million. And that does not count the several million that are estimated to have been unable to navigate overwhelmed websites and phone lines with state agencies. Bankers have warned this may become a Great Depression II instead of a recession. State and local governments start laying off employees due to rapidly falling revenues since so much of the economy is based on consumer spending which is nearly nonexistent. Half of all Americans report a loss of income. Checks are still slow in coming to small business owners who struggle with filing applications with banks for the risk-free SBA-guaranteed Payroll Protection Program. The President is expected to name a second pandemic task force soon, this time on planning to revive the economy. Various heads of agencies begin speculating how soon the economy could be turned back on, as if all they had to do was to push a button. It will not be that easy. Yet, there is still a nationwide shortage of testing which will be required to get millions of Americans back to work.
An outcry starts that in some cities around the U.S. the majority of deaths due to coronavirus are being experienced largely by the poor and minority populations, especially African Americans. Blacks in some cities such as Chicago, New York, Milwaukee, New Orleans and St. Louis are dying at much higher astonishing rates than their share of the population should indicate. While all Americans may be in the same boat experiencing the pandemic, it is now obvious that not all Americans will die at the same rate. There are many reasons being cited for this cruel disparity which include: the lack of access to healthcare; poorer health with more preexisting conditions like diabetes, obesity, and asthma; living in dense neighborhoods and multi-generational family settings; a lack of testing to deal with a health crisis; poorer more crowded transportation options; systemic racism; and being on the frontline in public-facing jobs where they could not afford to take time off or shelter in place without paid leave. This is a tragedy within a tragedy.
Life in Trump’s America continues to unravel and become more surreal as the county practices social distancing. Over 80 million students are now trying to complete their school year at home. Teachers organize drive-by parades thru neighborhoods to connect with their homebound students. A digital divide continues to widen for those rural or poor families without access to high-speed Internet. Churches hold drive-in services in vacant lots or live stream their services over the internet while Easter sanctuaries sit as empty as Jesus’ tomb once was. Those pastors who defy local orders and hold live on-premise worship services are threatened with arrest. Funerals are being banned. Only essential workers are permitted to continue to leave their home to go to work. The Democrat Party presumptive nominee, Joe Biden, suggests the possibility that the summer convention will be late and held virtually. Obituary pages of local pages are twice their normal length all while tens of thousands of workers in the news media are furloughed from their jobs at a time the nation so desperately needs them.. Local and national broadcast news programs are televised from the homes of their hosts. Store shelves remain empty of many basic essentials. Food bank lines with hundreds of cars have sprouted up across the country to provide food for the newly unemployed and poor. Everyone’s hair starts looking long, gray, or shabby.
It has now become standard that both workers and customers are grocery stores wear masks and gloves, especially now that these workers are falling ill and some dying. All across the country families are learning to make their own masks. A cottage industry has appeared overnight to produce personal protection equipment for healthcare workers and American families who feel their government has failed them. At the appointed hour across many big cities residents have taken to opening up their windows to make noise to show their support and appreciation of healthcare worker on the frontline who are risking their own lives. Empty college dorms and desolate hotels are being turned into accommodations for medical workers who fear returning home each night with the risk of infecting their own family. Traffic is so reduced that auto insurance companies start providing rebates to their policy owners. Americans have taken to holding on-line meetings to host family reunions, neighborhood happy hours, job teams, church services, and e-visits with their doctors. People begin to worry that everyday activities like shopping, eating out, entertainment, sports, travelling, health care and personal services will be changed forever going forward. Even the act of voting will be different as demonstrated this week in Wisconsin where the pandemic kept people at home to protect their health away from the polls, while others waited in congested lines for hours at understaffed polling locations. Even the courts, all the way up to the Supreme Court, and town hall meetings have gone virtual. Crime and killings are reported to be down in nearly all major U.S. cities, though it is unclear if it is because criminal acts like those associated with the illicit drug business has truly decreased or that the police forces with reduced manpower no longer have the capacity to pursue calls to the fullest extent. Or perhaps it is because people are always at home making burglaries far more dangerous for the criminal. Nevertheless, gun sales are still reported to be at all-time highs in some states, right after the sale of toilet paper. Health experts begin socializing the eventual need of Americans to be tested and then having to have with them “immunity certifications” declaring they are safe for travel, work, and interact socially. Infectious expert Dr. Fauci, whom has earned American’s respect, warns that while the curve is indeed flattening, if we scale back our efforts prematurely the disease will come roaring back.
Fearing that the several trillion dollars already appropriate to rescue the economy will still not be enough, both Congress and the Trump White House begin discussions on several hundred billion dollars more of emergency relief largely to businesses. Banks report have received hundreds of thousands of loan applications which have flooded out an SBA system totally inadequate to disburse the funds which have already been approved. Thank goodness some businesses and their leaders are responding such as Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey who pledges an astonishing $1B of his own money.
Trump-appointed acting Secretary of Navy Thomas Modly visits the USS Theodore Roosevelt in Guam to explain to the crew why he fired their captain who had asked his chain of command to evacuate the crew due to an uncontrolled spread of the coronavirus. He tells the sailors that the dismissed Captain Brett Cozier was “too naïve or too stupid” to be in charge of the aircraft carrier. Even Modly’s action were too much for Trump’s Pentagon as he would be leave the DoD shortly after returning back to Washington having spent over $200K on his trip to “boost” the morale of our sailors.
Not to be content with opening up the prized natural lands of the America West to mining, the President issues an executive order calling for the commercialization of the moon to mine and extract minerals. He is attempting to advance the legal protection for private industry to recover, privatize, and use lunar resources.
The week starts out in the U.S. with death counts consistently over 2,000 per day and peak at over 4,500 in one day alone. Total confirmed fatalities go from 20,000 at the start to 25,000 then past 30,000 to 35,000 by the week’s end. Nearly 10,000 health care workers have become infected. The death count from one city, New York, was reported to be over 3,500 in one day as some previous deaths were recast as COVID-19 related. The deaths of the elderly at home has skyrocketed so much that coroner offices are using the national guard to pick up bodies. Surge morgues are being built in some major cities to handle an expected overflow of bodies that funeral homes and mortuaries cannot handle.
And despite all this agony and misery, President Trump adds to our anxiety by startling the nation when he claims that “when somebody is President of the United States, the authority is total.” Yes, he said that his authority is total. He was responding to a question about how quickly social distancing rules can be lifted so people can return to work and consuming (sadly, our most important job in this economy), and thus the overall economy turned back on. Trump wants it to be as soon as possible while health experts warn that we will suffer a second cycle of deaths. In the same bizarre pandemic task force briefing, Trump shows a campaign-style video touting his glorious leadership.
Trump retweets a post that called for the firing the NIH Infectious Disease expert Dr Anthony Fauci. Fauci is the only adult most Americans are paying attention to when the Task Force has their daily briefings.
Despite entering the fourth month of a global health crisis, only just over 3 million or about 1% of all Americans have been tested. Trump keeps saying that anyone who wants a test can get it but it is an absolute fabrication. The inability of the federal government to quickly stand up a national testing program will go down as one of the costliest and deadliest failures in our history resulting in the unnecessary deaths of thousands as well as an economy that had to be shutdown because we did not know who was infectious or not.
Shortages of personal protection equipment as well as testing materials continue across the country as local and state governments scramble to find sources, most of which are overseas, and end up competing with each other or even the federal government then pay exorbitant prices. Many fire departments, hospitals, and first responders are left on their own to find or make masks. Trump says that he is a wartime leader and has absolute power, but he fails deliver what the country so desperately needs.
With the lack of Federal leadership, state government officials like those in Illinois have gone so far as meeting with profiteering brokers in parking lots in the middle of the night, after outbidding other states, with multi-million dollar checks to secure medical supplies for their states from international sources, then chartering a private airlift to fly materials into their state hoping to avoid scams, delays, and impoundments at the border. Yet, many people including frontline healthcare workers and first responders say they still cannot get tested. Trump responds by claiming that the U.S. has “built the most advanced and robust testing anywhere in the world.” Another grand lie.
The AMA has estimated that treatment for the nation’s underinsured victims of coronavirus will be tens of billions of dollars. But no surprise that the Trump administration refuses to allow enrollment for the ACA be reopened to permit those who had decided not to enroll, but were eligible, when the last open period ended. It is projected that anywhere from 10-30 million Americans will lose or suffer a disruption to their employer provided insurance. Hospitals big and large are laying off staff and closing facilities as routine exams, procedures, and elective surgeries have come to a complete halt.
Trump orders a halt of payments from the U.S. to the World Health Organization in an obvious attempt to shift the blame from his own handling of the crisis to that of the WHO. How ironic that Trump claims that “the WHO failed in its basic duty and must be held accountable.” It seems that Trump has never once been held accountable for a damn thing he has done, or did not but should have, over is whole privileged life. He has his surrogates on Fox News and Congress attacking the WHO, then China’s government, then the Democrats, then the state governors, then a new target of a Chinese biohazard lab.
Trump and governors from around the nation spar with each other over Twitter about the merits and timing for turning the economy back on by relaxing stay at home orders. A backlash begins to brew against the orders to shelter in place, stay at home, and close nonessential businesses across most of the country. Angry crowds disobey social distancing to congregate at state capitols to protest what they see as an infringement on their civil rights. They come waving flags, chanting for liberation as if they are the victims, carrying Trump signs and wearing MAGA hats. Some are fully masked and carrying rifles in an apocalyptical scene from a dystopian movie. Many are protesting their sudden unemployment but their vitriol is directed toward the wrong elected officials. It was the Trump’s administration’s inability to take the world health emergency seriously at the very onset by organizing rapid testing so we would not have to isolate people and shutdown the entire economy. Trump inflames the civil disobedience in a tweet storm indicating his support of the LIBERATE protest. This is a President of the USA inciting public insurrection to commit criminal acts!
At the end of the week Trump comes up with a 3-phase plan to reopen the country and backs off of his previous statement that he had absolute power to order this be done. He now says he has given the governors “his authority” to act to open their states and they are “going to call your own shots.”
Another 5 plus million Americans file for unemployment this week. The total is now past 22 million and expected to go even higher with reports that many could still not get thru their state’s unemployment processes to file. Nearly 1 on 10 Americans are now said to be out of work. In some states like Michigan the number is closer to 1 out of 4. Some economists believe unemployment will hit 20% or more before recovering. There is no sector of the economy of industry that seems to be immune from job losses. Not surprising, consumer sales and retail activity has plummeted to depression levels. Markets are expected to crash once again.
The U.S. Treasury reports a delay in getting out pandemic relief checks because of an order to add President Trump’s name to be printed on the checks. It will be the first time that a president’s name has ever appeared on an official IRS disbursement.
Everywhere you turn you hear about another GoFundMe account having been set up to help this family, that cause, this business, these first responders, that non-profit, this closed business, and the list goes on and one. All are commendable goals to help people in need. But what type of a country are we when crowd funding and digital pan handling become a substitute for public policy, safety nets, and a more fair and equitable economy to begin with? How fair and just is it that those with big contact lists or social media presences get help while others don’t?
As more data is released, it is now believed that black Americans are suffering and dying at a 30% higher rate than white Americans. They are making up nearly 35% of all hospitalizations, more than twice what their percent of the population would have indicated as their share.
Banks are reporting chaos as hundreds of thousands of businesses scramble to file for SBA guaranteed loans under the $350B Payroll Protection Program. Later it comes out that much of the money went to not so small businesses that had thousands of employees or were publicly traded stocks with access to funding from other sources.
The week starts out with a total of over 35,000 COVID-19 related deaths in the U.S. and ends with a staggering 55,000 that steals the breath away from even the healthy. The good news is more evidence that social distancing and shelter-in-place orders have flattened the curve and final deaths may not reach the 100-200K initially expected. In some states more than a quarter of all cases and deaths are in nursing homes where ill patients suffer and die without loved ones being able to visit. The infected count has climbed to over 2 million confirmed cases at week’s end with some 200,000 deaths globally. In Europe there have been more than 1 million confirmed cases and 100,000 deaths, accounting for about half of the world’s cases and deaths.
So President Trump has indeed made America great again by making us the number one country in cases and deaths. When a reporter challenges the President at a daily briefing why he was praising himself for his performance during the crisis as the death count passed 40,000 Trump snaps back and says “you don’t have the brains you were born with” and at a female reporter he snarls “keep your voice down.” Many Americans are tiring of Trump’s performance as one poll reported that only 21% of respondents trust what he says. And they give him far more credit than he deserves.
At the end of the week during a briefing that has become increasingly unhinged the President suggests disinfectants should be tried to treat COVID-19. Yes, he said that as administration officials looked on in the same utter disbelief that Americans watching this experienced. The next morning the Surgeon General, poison control offices, and product manufacturers such as Lysol and Clorox issue emergency announcements warning people not to ingest their products, which they know some will surely do given it was President Trump that suggested it. Trump later comes out and claims that he made the comment sarcastically. Yet, another lie that is so obvious when you hear the briefing replayed. Over the weekend the White House announces that the President will no longer participate in these daily briefings about the response to the COVID-19 pandemic but will now turn his attention to the saving the economy. Yes, that is very reassuring.
Entering the third month of the pandemic and second month of shutdown, widespread testing for the virus or antibodies is still absent due largely to the lack of leadership and urgency from the White House. After weeks we have only tested about 3.5 millions people, or 1% of our population. Trump is fixated on getting the country back open for business before there is sufficient testing. Who wants to go back to work, shop or dine around other people who may be asymptomatic carriers but cannot get walk-up testing upon demand with quick results? The CDC has estimated that some 25% of infected people may show no symptoms and will be out spreading the disease unless there is more testing. Trump continues to lie about this and claim that “anybody who wants testing can get it” and that we “have the most expansive and accurate testing system anywhere in the world.” He goes on to say it is really the state’s responsibilities to set up testing. Critical shortages of such things as mundane as nasal swabs are keeping the numbers low without the mobilization of the federal government to remedy in a time of a national crisis. Trump takes no responsibility and blames “do nothing Democrats” for politicizing his failures to set up a nationwide testing program.
Some state governors, mostly Republicans in conservative states, disregard federal guidelines and begin to lift stay-at-home orders. They are under pressure from protesters who, violating emergency orders and most definitely not practicing safe distancing, have been at their state capitols demanding their states reopen for business. Newscasts are full of example statements from the quarantine protesters that are flatly wrong or full of misinformation and propaganda, likely from Fox Newsless. They were edged on by the President who recently tweeted out the previous week of his support to “liberate” their states; an act of insurrection that no president has encouraged since the Civil War. Trump calls protesters “good people” despite those carrying guns into state capitols and violating safe-distancing orders. These protesters are not true conservatives as they demand all their rights but take no personal responsibility for how the exercise of their rights endangers others. Georgia has gone so far as to announce that of all places, gyms, tattoo parlors, bowling alleys, massage parlors, hair salons, restaurants, bars, and social clubs may reopen at end of the month. Health officials warn once again that this is weeks premature and may cause a resurgence of the virus and a recovery that looks more like a W instead of a V.
In the recent Wisconsin election it is reported that several dozen people who stood in long lines to vote as well as poll workers have become ill from COVID-19. Yet, the Republican party across the nation stonewalls attempts to expand mail-in voting in upcoming elections. Why? The President explained it very clearly when he said “If we have mail-in voting, Republicans will lose.”
Elsewhere, not only are often taken-for-granted civil rights being sacrificed to save lives – a temporary bargain worth accepting – but democracy overall seems to have been suspended. Elections continue to be postponed, initiative petition drives cancelled, door-to-door campaigning by candidates abandoned, political advertising absent, congressional office phones unanswered, and heaven forbid lobbyists can no longer wine and dine our representatives. And of course despite the crisis the Republican Party continues its work to make voting harder, require more identification, gerrymandering districts, rejecting attempt to reform the electoral college, ignoring initiative petition results, taking voters off of roles, moving or closing poll locations, and suppressing or disenfranchising voters by other tactics wherever they can. This is the voter fraud we should all be talking about.
A third week of massive job losses is reported with an additional 4.4 million Americans filing unemployment bringing the total of over 26 million jobs. And this number is expected to climb higher as there are still states where many have been unable to file much less start collecting benefits. Now nearly 1 in 6 previously employed Americans have been thrown out of their work due to the pandemic, a number that has not been seen since the Great Depression of the 1930s.
President Trump signs the executive order he threatened in recent weeks which temporarily halt immigration into the U.S. by those with green cards. It seems this is not at all the sweeping immigration stoppage he had promised. He must have realized how many of his real estate holdings and corporate donors depend on visas given to seasonal workers in agriculture, tourism, meatpacking, and resort employees.
Negotiations in Congress and with the White House drag on then finally produce another nearly $500B bill in relief to small businesses, hospitals, and local governments. The first payroll protection program quickly ran out of money with more reports of large companies, big bank customers, publicly traded companies, cash rich businesses, those that had already been failing, and even sports teams securing millions in loans while so many small businesses were locked out. Congress has now appropriated nearly $3 trillion dollars in emergency spending to save the nation’s economy. Americans have rightfully become equally paralyzed by worries about both their personal health and the health of the national economy. This $3 trillion is on top of the money the Federal Reserve has pumped into the system, some estimate as much as $4 trillion additional dollars to backstop bond markets, municipal debt, banks, real estate lending, money market funds, and other financial instruments of an economy that years ago moved from manufacturing products to manufacturing debt as part of the financialization of our economy.
North Korean dictator Kim Jong Un has denied Trump’s assertion that he received “a nice note” from Kim and that “we’re doing fine.” Yes, Kim has played Trump’s ego like a fiddle for the last 3 years and we are doing just fine. Then Kim goes missing for weeks out of the public eye and is thought to be seriously ill or perhaps even dead. President Trump in a news conference wishes him well. Please spare us the adoration of one autocrat to another.
A bipartisan report from the Senate released this week affirms the conclusions of U.S. intelligence agencies that Russia did indeed interfere in the 2016 presidential election. It went on to say the influence campaign was approved by Putin and aimed at helping the election of Donald Trump. It also rejects the claim that the investigation was biased against Trump, a claim that Trump and AG Barr continue to make despite all the findings to the contrary.
As if we don’t have enough crises on our hands, President Trump this week ordered “his” military to shoot down and destroy any Iranian gunboats getting too close or harassing U.S. Navy ships in the Mideast waters. Iran responds with a new threat to target the U.S. Navy.
Ten years after the BP Deepwater Horizon disaster that spilt over 100 million gallons of oil and killed 11 men, the Trump administration has eased safety rules implemented afterwards. Under the Trump term safety rules and inspections have decreased all while drilling has started in deeper and riskier areas of our oceans. But such expensive drilling may be short lived with oil prices in global markets having actually gone negative. There is such a glut of gas that refineries and holding facilities have no more room to store excess oil or gas.
The week starts with confirmed COVID-19 cases approaching 1 million and deaths in the U.S. topping 54,000. It ends with over 65,000 deaths and 1.2 million cases. While rates are dropping in many states, the hardest hit locations are reporting record daily fatalities.
Trump spends his weekend locked in a White House he has not left in a month and throws a twitter tantrum fit for a terrible tot. In nearly three-dozen tweets he blames, lies, deflects, and ridicules others while revising history of his own performance. That includes the suggestion that we consider light treatment and injection of disinfectants which he now says was sarcasm. His aides have likely advised him that his public ratings are falling due to his bizarre and at times unhinged performance in the near-daily pandemic task force briefings. The White House then announces Trump will stop participating in them and turn his attention to the economy Over the weekend he says “people that know me and know the history of our country say that I am the hardest working President in history.” Yes, humble, modest and of course truthful as well.
More state governors, again mostly Trump-supporting Republicans in conservative states, disregard guidelines and begin to lift stay-at-home orders. They remain under pressure from protesters who while violate emergency orders and most definitely not practicing safe-distancing have gathered at state capitols demanding their states reopen for business. Some protesters are seen without masks on shouting into the faces of police officers standing only a few feet away from them. They carry signs saying “give me liberty or give me death.” Ok, they can have their death, fine, but what about all the first responders, healthcare workers, grocery employees, their own families, and the public at large whom they might come into contact with should they get sick? They claim to be patriots, waving the flag and acting like they are defending the constitution, but they are just selfish people like Trump. During this crisis, which is indeed the equivalent of a war which hundreds of thousands of healthcare workers are fighting and tens of thousands of fellow citizens are dying, it seems some are just unwilling to make any personal sacrifices for the common good.
More American politicians follow the lead of President Trump and now try scapegoating China for everything that has occurred and say they will pay a price. Some go so far as to say we should consider canceling U.S. debt to China. Trump states the virus could have been released by some sort of mistake or accident in a Chinese bio lab. Some states like Missouri are suing China and the Communist Party for damages. Good luck with that. Missouri’s junior Senator Josh Hawley proclaims that this moment is his generation’s 9/11. Yes, he is right. There was another Republican President at that time who ignored warnings from his national security advisors of an impending terrorist attack, also with a month to act and prepare for which was also wasted, just like now.
The U.S. economy continue its nosedive into a recession that appears more like a sudden-onset depression. Another 3.8 million Americans are reported to have filed for unemployment in the past week bringing official totals to over 30 million, or nearly 1 in every 5 once-employed Americans out of work. The final total may approach 20%, a number not seen since the Great Depression. Some state unemployment funds are approaching insolvency and may require a federal loan or complete bailout. No surprise as many unemployed are still having trouble filing claims with state program offices, in mostly Republican states, that were programmed to delay and deny claims, not process them with expediency. Hundreds of thousands who made it thru a maze of filing requirements are reported to have yet to receive any assistance from their state, much less the supplemental income promised by the CARES Act. Senate Majority Leader McConnell goes so far as to suggest the once unimaginable that some states should consider filing for bankruptcy. Yes, he said that. Can you imagine the turmoil in bond markets that would result, as well as the fear in international markets that the U.S. might consider this option and default on its debt.
Despite the second phase of the PPP act which Trump supported, and after over $2T pumped directly into the economy, the economy is has still not yet hit bottom. It is estimated that over half of all households have experienced a job loss, furlough, or reduction in wages. Individual corporations report staggering loses of hundreds of millions of dollars. One company alone, American Airlines reported a behemoth $2.3B loss. The economy contracted by nearly 5% in March with April predicted to be much greater, perhaps approaching 30%, making it the worse contraction since the Great Depression. Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi says that state and local governments may need another $1T bailout. Republicans claim they should not bail out these populous largely Democrat states who are suffering the most. Yet, it is these progressive states that consistently contribute more to the U.S. Treasury and economy overall than the Republican-led conservative states which are largely “takers.”
The President signs an order giving meat producers protection under the Defense Production Act so they can remain open, ignore local or state orders to close, and compel employees to work. The order contains provisions to protect companies from liability claims by giving them legal immunity if workers become sick or die. If a laid-off worker is called back to work at one of these plants but feels their health and safety is at risk, they are threatened with their unemployment assistance being terminated. This is the life in Trump’s “me-first” America.
Yet, there is still no national plan from the Trump administration for testing on a massive nationwide scale. Only some 5 million have been tested to date with an average of 2% for states. Experts say we should be testing 400-500K per day which is more than twice our current rate. Trump continues to mislead the nation by saying that we are doing “much much more testing than anybody else in the world.” On a per-capital basis, which is what matters, that is simply not true. At least one state governor has used the national guard to secure and protect testing supplies and personal protection equipment from being seized by the federal government which seems completely inept at standing up a national testing program after two months.
In an unbelievable moment, Vice President Pence, who chairs the Pandemic Task Force, visits the Mayo Clinic to meet with doctors and a patient without wearing a mask while everyone else is. This one photo says everything you need to know about the whole damn Trump administration. Pence later claims he did not know of the requirement then defends his behavior by saying he was healthy and recently tested; a defense that is utterly ridiculous as many tests can be negative and some will shed the virus to others while asymptomatic themselves. He is seen continuing to shake hands and in the daily briefings he and the team are often standing shoulder-to-shoulder on stage together. The day after Pence’s office admonishes and bans from travel on Air Force 2 the reporter from the Voice of America who reported that his staff did indeed know about the requirements for all to wear a mask.
News reporters and the public begin asking where is or what happened to the CDC; the agency that should have been leading the charge in preparing for then reacting to a pandemic. They don’t participate in daily briefings and have been MIA from the frontlines of this war. Have they been castrated by the Trump Administration and Republicans like other federal agencies originally chartered to protect the common good? Perhaps they too have they fallen prey to regulatory capture where their mission to protect the public has been hijacked by business who want their special interests protected.
The week ends with 3.3 million cases and 250,000 deaths worldwide and 1.1 million with 65,000 deaths in the U.S. The estimated final death toll projected for America is revised upward to 100,000. We fear that may prove be too low given the rush to open the country back up before their is widespread testing. Trump continues to proclaim his administration has been very successful and has done an amazing job. Yes, it has indeed been amazing. The month of April 2020 is one few living Americans will ever, ever forget.
The above news items have been taken from a number of international, national, regional, and local news media sources of print, digital, and broadcast. Additional editorial opinions and comments about these news items are those of this author.
(Featured photo credit exclusive of title: Phil Pasquini / Shutterstock.com)