The Virus as a Political Football

As of the writing of this letter, April 6, 2020, 10 states have not declared a state of emergency, closed gatherings of more than 10 people, or issued stay-at-home orders. All these states have Republican governors.

President Trump is more alarmed by the unemployment figures and the effect they will have on his re-election than the number of Americans who are dying of this disease. Out of deference to U.S. businesses, he announced that businesses would be open again by Easter, a pronouncement he later rescinded.

Trump’s declaration of national emergency signed on March 13: “I have taken sweeping action to control the spread of the virus in the United States, including by suspending entry of foreign nationals seeking entry who had been physically present within the prior 14 days in certain jurisdictions where COVID-19 outbreaks have occurred, including the People’s Republic of China, the Islamic Republic of Iran, and the Schengen Area of Europe,” according to whitehouse.gov.

Between the time he learned of the rising pandemic in late January and his declaration of a national emergency, 1,300 direct flights from China landed in the U.S., carrying 430,000 passengers. Since March 13, 40,000 authorized Americans have returned from China.

Yet, Trump and his die-hard Republican supporters are still denying that it is a crisis for anything other than the 2020 election. When he advised the nation to wear face masks, Trump went out of the way to say that he was not going to wear one. Millions of Americans will follow his example.

Whatever “sweeping measures” Trump has taken have failed to even slow the growth of the disease. The United States, with less than 1/3 the population of China, now has more than three times the reported cases of COVID-19 as China. We have twice the death toll as China. Both these figures are on a steep rise in the U.S. while they have declined and are flattening even more in China.

Trump is using the pandemic now sweeping the country as a political football. He is sending emergency equipment to states with governors he likes (Florida, New York, California), and withholding it from those he doesn’t like, (Michigan, Washington).

He likes governors who say nice things about him that he can use in political ads, which he continues to produce, according a news article in Esquire. Clips of the Demo-cratic governors of New York and Florida are already featured in a campaign ad. He likes the governor of Florida, Ron DeSantis, presumably because Mar-a-Lago, the “sum-mer White House,” is located there and DeSantis is a strong supporter of him.

The governor of Michigan, Gretchen Whitmer, stated on MSNBC that she was promised emergency medical equipment by the White House, but it never arrived. She has been critical of Trump’s slow and weak response to the pandemic. Jay Inslee, governor of Washington, clashed with Trump on a conference call with governors on March 26.

Trump has done many shameful things, but this one, shall I say, “trumps” them all.

(Sunbury Daily Item, April 10, 2020)
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