By Robert A. Vella
I wouldn’t want to be in President Trump‘s shoes right now. He is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t take assertive and effective action against the coronavirus pandemic. This crisis far exceeds his personal capabilities. Mostly, however, it is what he isn’t doing that’s the biggest problem. Although Trump has definitely changed his rhetorical tone lately by finally acknowledging the severity of the COVID-19 outbreak, he is still reacting defensively and his administration’s response is still quite inadequate.
Trump’s latest proposal is being justifiably lampooned. He is calling on Congress to pass an $850 billion stimulus package in the vain hope that it will avert a looming economic recession which might resuscitate his increasingly problematic reelection chances. The proposal is little more than an ideological pipedream – heavy on more irresponsible tax cuts plus a bailout for the airline industry. While the bailout would obviously be good news for commercial airlines which could face bankruptcy if worldwide travel restrictions are prolonged, the tax cut idea is completely nonsensical. The global economy is imperiled now not because of a shortage of investment funds, but because of an unwillingness to invest due to the unprecedented decline in consumer spending directly resulting from the pandemic. True to form, Trump continues to put his own self-interest ahead of the nation’s interest and ahead of humanity’s interest. COVID-19 is a public health crisis. Fix it and the economy will naturally recover. Don’t fit it and the economy will collapse. Trump is being betrayed by his own twisted instincts, and we cannot trust him.
Young people… good grief! Readers might be shocked by news reports from around the world today about their irreverent and narcissistic behavior in the face of government actions to stop the spread of the virus. It certainly was a shock to me. Hey, Millennials and Gen Zers! What’s your major malfunction? Are you robotically controlled by your raging hormones? Are you really that stupid? Or, do you feel so much resentment towards the human race that you’re eager to see its demise?
Trump in the crosshairs
The head of the World Health Organization has a simple message for all countries about who should be tested for coronavirus: “Test, test, test. Test every suspected case.” Yet, the American medical system is scrambling to keep up with this directive.
While US health officials say testing is ramping up — and while drive-through testing in several states is rolling out — a shortage of available testing remains an issue, CNN has found.
WASHINGTON — President Trump told a group of governors on Monday morning that they should not wait for the federal government to fill the growing demand for respirators needed to treat people with coronavirus.
Governors Jay Inslee of Washington, whose state is at the epicenter of the domestic outbreak, and Michelle Lujan Grisham of New Mexico both reacted angrily to the administration’s slow response to the crisis.
President Trump and Gov. Cuomo turned the coronavirus crisis into a political punching bag Monday, accusing each other of not doing enough to combat the fast-spreading pandemic.
It was not immediately clear what prompted the social media beef, but Cuomo has repeatedly called on Trump to send in the Army Corps of Engineers to help turn military bases or college dorms in New York into temporary medical centers because the state’s hospitals may soon become overwhelmed with coronavirus patients.
An NPR/PBS NewsHour/Marist poll released Tuesday shows that only 37 percent of those polled have either “a good amount” or “a great deal” of trust in the information they hear from the president about the coronavirus, while 60 percent say they do “not very much” or “not at all” trust Trump’s words on the subject.
WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Some 60% of Americans are now ‘very’ or ‘somewhat worried’ they or a family member will be exposed to the coronavirus, up from 36% in February, while confidence in the government’s ability to respond has fallen sharply, a new poll showed.
The Gallup poll was conducted on March 2-13, shortly after the first positive case of the fast-spreading virus was reported in the United States, and came as the administration of President Donald Trump accelerated its response to the pandemic.
It said the results showed a significant partisan divide among those polled, with 73% of Democrats the most worried of any group, compared to just 42% of Republicans.
While the MAGA movement is divided over how seriously to take the coronavirus threat or how to tackle it, the message among his supporters is increasingly unanimous: If Trump fails to control the virus, prevent its spread and prove his leadership, much less save the economy, he will lose the election and cripple his movement.
The irreverence of youth
Scientists and government officials fighting the coronavirus epidemic say they have a problem: Carefree youths.
As authorities moved to restrict social gatherings last week, bars and restaurants from New York to Berlin filled up with revelers, illegal “lockdown parties” popped up in France and Belgium, and campuses in the U.S. lit up for end-of-the-world dorm parties.
So far, most young Covid-19 patients have experienced mild or no symptoms from the virus, while more severe cases are concentrated among those aged 50 and over. Data released last week by the National Health Institute in Italy, currently the world’s worst-hit country, shows mortality rates starting at 0% for patients aged 0 to 29 and edging up to peak at 19% for those over 90.
Joanne Wasserman, a 65-year-old communications consultant, tried to break the monotony of days indoors on Sunday by going for a walk through her Brooklyn neighborhood. While she took care to avoid crowds, she was surprised to see a gaggle of people in their 20s and 30s standing outside a packed restaurant.
“I was shocked,” she said. Heart racing, she summoned the courage to confront them, asking, “Are you guys are aware of what’s going on?”
The response was sudden and severe, she recalled: “We are trying to have a nice Sunday, so why don’t you just fuck off!”
Shoulder-to-shoulder tourists in New Orleans sipped Hurricane cocktails and grooved to live jazz. It was St. Patrick’s Day weekend, and there and at party hotspots elsewhere, you might not even know the novel coronavirus had just been declared a global pandemic.
Late Saturday, police cruisers paraded down Bourbon Street, using a megaphone to deliver the memo many seem to have missed.
“By order of the governor and the mayor, large crowds of people are prohibited from congregating together,” New Orleans officers said, according to video footage. “Your actions are jeopardizing public health. And we are directing you to clear the streets and to go home or back to your hotel.”
More than 6.7 million people live in San Francisco and the five counties issuing this order – Santa Clara, San Mateo, Marin, Contra Costa and Alameda counties. The order, which goes into effect at midnight Tuesday until 7 April, does not confine residents to their home unless they have permission to leave, as the lockdown orders in Italy and China do, but directs them to stay inside unless absolutely necessary.
While the federal government weighs closing restaurants and bars amid the coronavirus outbreak, restaurant companies and at least 11 states are already closing dining rooms.
Photos of Americans in restaurants and bars circulated on social media over the weekend, leading many to call for mandated closures to enforce “social distancing.”
Hours before polls were set to open, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine announced his administration would close them because of the “health emergency” posed by the novel coronavirus.
DeWine announced this change at 10:08 p.m. Monday after a Franklin County Common Pleas judge allowed in-person voting to continue. Tuesday, Ohio Secretary of State Frank LaRose will seek a legal remedy to extend voting. LaRose issued guidance to county elections officials saying in-person voting in the primary election has been suspended until June 2.
DeWine’s statement capped a night of confusion, with Ohioans – and poll workers –unsure if there would be an in-person election. That was still unclear barely eight hours before polls were scheduled to open at 6:30 a.m.
Early Tuesday, the Ohio Supreme Court made it official by denying a legal challenge to delaying the primary. A candidate in Wood County accused the state of violating election laws.
On Monday, Malaysia’s Prime Minister Tan Sri Muhyiddin Yassin announced some of the most far-reaching measures yet imposed in the region, with strict nationwide controls locking down all travel in or out of the country in an effort to stem infections of Covid-19, the disease caused by coronavirus.
PARIS, March 16 (Reuters) – French President Emmanuel Macron on Monday ordered stringent restrictions on people’s movement that would last at least two weeks to slow the spread of the coronavirus and said the army would be drafted in to help move the sick to hospitals.
France had already shut down restaurants and bars, closed schools and put ski resorts off limits, but Macron said measures unprecedented in peacetime were needed as the number of infected people doubled every three days and deaths spiraled higher.
TORONTO (AP) — Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau said Monday he will close the country’s borders to anyone not a citizen, an American or a permanent resident — and even they have to self-isolate for 14 days on arrival — due to the coronavirus pandemic.
“Let me be clear: If you are abroad, now is the time to come home,” the prime minister said. “If you’ve just arrived, you must self-isolate for 14 days.”
He also said those already in the country, “as much as possible should stay home.” He spoke outside his residence, where is self isolating after his wife tested positive for the virus.
Iraq’s president Tuesday named ex-Najaf city governor Adnan Zurfi as the new prime minister, tasked with ruling a country hit by street protests, military unrest and now the coronavirus pandemic.
The nomination came hours after two rockets hit an Iraqi military base hosting US-led coalition and NATO troops, the third such attack within a week, without causing casualties according to military officials.
Lawmaker Zurfi, 54, is the former governor of the Shiite holy city of Najaf and once belonged to the Dawa party, the longtime opposition force to ex-dictator Saddam Hussein who was ousted in the 2003 US-led invasion.
WASHINGTON — The Justice Department moved on Monday to drop charges against two Russian shell companies accused of financing schemes to interfere in the 2016 election, saying that they were exploiting the case to gain access to delicate information that Russia could weaponize.
The companies, Concord Management and Concord Consulting, were charged in 2018 in an indictment secured by the special counsel, Robert S. Mueller III, along with 13 Russians and another company, the Internet Research Agency. Prosecutors said they operated a sophisticated scheme to use social media to spread disinformation, exploit American social divisions and try to subvert the 2016 election.
WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. Senate has voted to extend, rather than tweak, three surveillance powers that federal law enforcement officials use to fight terrorists, passing the bill back to an absent House and throwing the future of the authorities in doubt.