We are losing the war on the coronavirus

Since this column covers all the statistics I wanted to share, I’ll just include the bulk of the authors text, shortened a bit. Written by Steve Chapman for the Chicago Tribune, published June 27, 2020.

“On Thursday, the United States had 39,327 new cases of the virus, a record, reported the Washington Post. The Wall Street Journal reported that 33 states “had a seven-day average of new cases on Tuesday that was higher than their 14-day average” — compared with 21 states at the beginning of June.

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Deaths have been declining, but that trend is misleading, because they are a lagging indicator. When cases increase, deaths will eventually follow.

“All 50 states have begun to reopen in a safe and responsible manner,” VP Pence claimed. Not quite. Seven states — Arizona, Arkansas, California, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Texas — set new daily records for hospitalizations on Tuesday, according to The Washington Post.

Some of these states, notably Texas and Arizona, have been aggressive in reopening. But faced with this surge, Texas Republican Gov. Greg Abbott announced he would roll back some of his state’s reopening.

Florida, which has been in a hurry to return to normal, set a record Wednesday with 5,508 new cases — only to report a staggering 8,942 Friday. It was enough to force Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis to ban on-premises drinking in bars.

What has Donald Trump done? He said he was not worried about holding an indoor rally June 20 in Tulsa during the pandemic. “It’s dying out,” he claimed. Thousands of supporters showed up, most without masks, even as Oklahoma was reporting record numbers of new cases. He said he told his aides to “slow the testing down” so the number of new cases would be lower. 

He did another rally Tuesday in Phoenix, where 3,000 attendees largely ignored the local mandate that they wear masks. “It’s going away,” Trump assured them. 

Not in Arizona. On Thursday, the state broke records for new cases, hospitalizations and use of ventilators. ”Arizona has lost control of the epidemic,” reported PolicyLab at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia.

Florida, PolicyLab had said earlier, “has all the makings of the next large epicenter” of the pandemic. Still the president insisted on moving the August Republican National Convention to Jacksonville so he can accept the nomination before cheering delegates packed into a big venue.

The administration is also ending federal funding of some community-based testing sites, a decision that even GOP Sens. Ted Cruz and John Cornyn of Texas criticized. 

He spurned Charlotte, the original site, because of North Carolina’s restrictions. “We can’t do social distancing,” he informed Democratic Gov. Roy Cooper. Republican National Committee Chair Ronna McDaniel insists that in holding the convention, the party will “put the safety of convention-goers first and foremost.” 

No, it won’t. If that were the case, it would tell them to stay home rather than risk contracting a dangerous disease to satisfy the president’s vanity.

History will record that under Trump’s watch, the United States became the leader of the world — in COVID-19 infections. As of June 24, the U.S., which has 330 million people, has been averaging nearly eight times as many new cases as the European Union, whose population is 445 million. 

Trump has always been on the side of governors who favor fewer restrictions rather than more. When protesters (some of them armed) rallied in Lansing against Michigan Democratic Gov. Gretchen Whitmer’s stay-at-home order, he sided with the protesters. She held firm, and since then, Michigan has seen a big drop in new cases. 

But Trump and his followers have no patience with the inconveniences required to limit the pandemic. They are determined to move on and return to life as it used to be.

You can’t blame anyone for yearning to escape all the aggravations and deprivations of our current predicament. But here’s the thing about the virus: It doesn’t sleep. It never runs out of patience. And it won’t just go away.

 

Original article link: https://www.chicagotribune.com/columns/steve-chapman/ct-column-coronavirus-texas-florida-trump-chapman-20200626-chyvpoey2faali2tyc4b7ylh5y-story.html

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