By Robert A. Vella
Today marks the point when all fifty U.S. states, to varying degrees, are reopening their economies by easing “stay at home” and other restrictions imposed in response to the coronavirus pandemic (see: All US states are partially reopen leaving Americans to weigh the risk of venturing out again). As we shall see in this post, however, COVID-19 is still ravaging the country as President Trump and many Republican-controlled states are lying about and/or concealing the number of infections and deaths. Such malfeasance is not only exacerbating the anxiety Americans are feeling about returning to their normal activities, it is also aiding the GOP’s far-right ideological agenda under President Trump to sow distrust of democratic governance. But, as long as the U.S. is still able to conduct reasonably fair elections, Republicans run the risk of being eviscerated this November from a rising voter backlash (see: New polls show trouble for Trump and Republicans in GOP strongholds).
As I’ve said before, Trump and his cronies can run but they cannot hide – not only from the staggering realities of this public health and economic crisis, but also from the additional and unnecessary pain they are inflicting upon workers, family-owned businesses, the elderly, minorities, and just about everyone else beneath the top 1% of wealthiest individuals. These political and social dynamics are not just some whimsical idea, and the evidence is mounting across the nation. The more the GOP opposes financial aid and other policies which would keep ordinary Americans afloat until the crisis abates (hopefully by next year), the more it will incur the wrath of the people. Historically, the mood of the country is analogous to 1932 when President Herbert Hoover and Republicans were booted-out for similarly failing to respond to the Great Depression.
Take a look at these two graphs. The first shows the trend of infections and fatalities in the entire U.S., and the second compares those numbers in two states which acted relatively quickly to contain the contagion (NY and WA) versus two states which are recklessly rushing ahead to reopen (FL and TX):
Coincidentally or not, the top four countries with the highest number of COVID-19 cases – the U.S., Russia, Brazil, and the U.K. – are all led by right-wing authoritarian dictators or would-be dictators who are antithetical towards science and democracy.
On the political front, here’s what the President and Republican Senators have been doing this week besides Trump’s dangerous, embarrassing, and self-serving claims about using hydroxychloroquine which even Fox News’ Neil Cavuto refused to condone:
Here’s the rest of today’s news:
Florida and Georgia, two states that were among the first to announce the reopening of businesses and public spaces amid the health crisis, have come under scrutiny for their reporting on Covid-19 cases.
In Florida, Rebekah Jones, the official behind the state’s “dashboard,” a web page showing the number of Covid-19 cases and deaths in Florida that’s been praised by Dr. Deborah Birx, says she was removed from the project and questioned the state’s commitment to accessibility and transparency, according to Florida Today.
In Georgia, data tracking Covid-19 cases in the state has come under question after a misleading chart was posted on the state Department of Public Health’s web page, according to an article by the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Late last Friday, Jones announced in an email to researchers and people who had signed up to receive updates about the data portal that she had been removed from her post at the Florida Department of Health, according to Florida Today.
New coronavirus research by an Arizona State University working group projects that infections and hospitalizations could skyrocket over the next three months, barring a pullback by Gov. Doug Ducey.
The new research is the first from the ASU group since a public controversy in early May, after Arizona’s Department of Health Services dismissed a team of ASU and University of Arizona experts who had provided pandemic modeling specific to the state.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has struggled to provide accurate data on the novel coronavirus.
The CDC must wait for states to report infections and deaths, creating a built-in lag time.
There is also a lack of standardization and political pressure to keep numbers low.
“The CDC missed its window to be able to have that position of authority on the data and people are looking for other sources,” Thomas Tsai, a health policy researcher at the Harvard School of Public Health, told Business Insider.