By Robert A. Vella
The United States passed another milestone on Friday with over 900,000 confirmed COVID-19 cases and over 51,000 deaths. Those figures represent 33% of the total number of worldwide infections (2.746 million) and 26% of the global fatalities (193,000). Since the U.S. has only 4.2% of the world’s population, its percentage of victims is 6-8 times higher than what it would be if the coronavirus pandemic had impacted each country proportionally. That the U.S. has been affected so much more than every other nation puts a heavy burden of responsibility upon its official leader – President Donald J. Trump.
No matter how vigorously he tries to downplay the severity of this public health and economic crisis, no matter how many scapegoats he attempts to blame, no matter how many lies he tells to the American people, no matter how hard he tries to delude himself, such a tremendous weight of failure must take its personal and political toll. As Trump and his Republican Party face an increasingly problematic reelection year, the reality of their twisted priorities and irresponsible behavior are becoming clearer. 2-3 weeks ago, they – along with conservative majorities in the Wisconsin and U.S. Supreme Courts – forced voters in that state to risk their lives by voting in-person for an otherwise inconsequential primary election just because they wanted to reelect a Republican state supreme court judge. Although their political strategy backfired (the judge lost his seat), it has caused a worrisome surge in new infections (see: Uptick in Wisconsin Covid-19 cases ‘bears some attention,’ says Medical College CEO).
Trump and the GOP’s win at all costs attitude has proved successful in the past, but during a national and global emergency such as this the American people won’t tolerate it. The public is demanding effective action and leadership to combat the pandemic to which Trump and his Republican allies are not providing. Even worse, they see a president who is flaying away erratically and incompetently. In yesterday’s press conference, Trump sank deeper into irrationality when he suggested implanting/injecting ultraviolet lights and toxic disinfectants into people as a cure for COVID-19. Yes folks, you read that correctly.
Here’s today’s news:
The president sees few allies no matter which channel he clicks. He is angry even with Fox, an old security blanket, for not portraying him as he would like to be seen.
Confined to the White House, the president is isolated from the supporters, visitors, travel and golf that once entertained him, according to more than a dozen administration officials and close advisers who spoke about Mr. Trump’s strange new life. He is tested weekly, as is Vice President Mike Pence, for Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
The economy — Mr. Trump’s main case for re-election — has imploded. News coverage of his handling of the coronavirus has been overwhelmingly negative as Democrats have condemned him for a lack of empathy, honesty and competence in the face of a pandemic. Even Republicans have criticized Mr. Trump’s briefings as long-winded and his rough handling of critics as unproductive.
His own internal polling shows him sliding in some swing states, a major reason he declared a temporary halt to the issuance of green cards to those outside the United States. The executive order — watered down with loopholes after an uproar from business groups — was aimed at pleasing his political base, people close to him said, and was the kind of move Mr. Trump makes when things feel out of control. Friends who have spoken to him said he seemed unsettled and worried about losing the election.
But the president’s primary focus, advisers said, is assessing how his performance on the virus is measured in the news media, and the extent to which history will blame him.
After a presentation Thursday that touched on the disinfectants that can kill the novel coronavirus on surfaces and in the air, President Trump pondered whether those chemicals could be used to fight the virus inside the human body.
“I see the disinfectant that knocks it out in a minute, one minute,” Trump said during Thursday’s coronavirus press briefing. “And is there a way we can do something like that by injection inside, or almost a cleaning? Because you see it gets inside the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs, so it would be interesting to check that.”
As [William N.] Bryan [acting undersecretary for science and technology at the Department of Homeland Security] left the podium without answering reporters’ questions, Trump stepped up to the microphone. Before he allowed anyone to ask a question, the president offered an answer to a “question that, probably, some of you are thinking of if you are totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting.”
That’s when he asked about injecting an unspecified disinfectant into the lungs of covid-19 patients. He also raised the possibility of using light to combat the viral infection and suggested consulting medical doctors with these questions.
“So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous, whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that hasn’t been checked but you’re going to test it,” Trump said to Bryan. “And then, I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way.”
Las Vegas casino and restaurant workers have pushed back on Mayor Carolyn Goodman’s repeated calls to reopen the city’s economy, and now local labor unions are outraged after she admitted in a nationally televised interview to suggesting laborers serve as virtual lab rats to determine whether stay-at-home orders really worked in combating the coronavirus.
The Treasury Department is considering taking unprecedented control over key operations of the U.S. Postal Service by imposing tough terms on an emergency coronavirus loan from Congress, which would fulfill President Trump’s longtime goal of changing how the service does business, according to two people familiar with the matter.
The borrowing terms have only been discussed among both agencies’ leadership and have not been made public because the Postal Service hasn’t officially requested the loan, the two people familiar with the matter said. Mnuchin could still decide not to pursue tough terms as the September deadline nears. The Postal Service would not have to use the entire $10 billion loan at one time, but could borrow up to that amount at any given time.
In discussions with senior USPS personnel, Treasury officials have said they are interested in raising rates on the Postal Service’s lucrative package business, its sole area of profitability in recent years. Treasury also could review all large postal contracts with package companies to push for greater margins on deliveries.
Treasury officials have said they may press the agency to demand tougher concessions from its powerful postal unions — among the public-sector unions that still retain significant leverage in negotiations with the government.
The officials have also said Mnuchin wants the authority to review hiring decisions at the agency’s senior levels, including the selection of the next postmaster general, a decision that until now has been left to the Postal Service’s five-member board of governors.