Two days ago my daughter lost her job as sales manager for a small business in southern California. She's shocked.
Her company's financial problems arrived very suddenly because of the COVID-19 outbreak. As I described in a previous blog post, with no retail outlets being open, with the companies that owe them money being unable to pay, and with them being unable to pay their suppliers, every employee has been furloughed.
I blame Donald Trump. For good reason.
Trump is why the United States is facing a massive disaster. Lots of sickness and deaths. Economic recession, if not depression. Shortages of all kinds of stuff, including the personal protective equipment needed to keep our heroic health professionals from contacting the coronavirus themselves.
At first I was tempted to write a post about Trump's failure to manage the COVID-19 outbreak that was filled with profanities. That's how upset I am about the damage our Idiot-in-Chief has done to this country.
My daughter's travails, though serious, pale in comparison to what millions of other people are going to have to endure. Her husband still has a job. Their family finances are fairly sound. Today she told me that if they stick to buying basics, they should be fine. There's a chance her company could get back in business if things improve by next September.
So my outrage at Trump is based on concerns that go way beyond how my wife and I, along with my daughter's family, have been affected. I'll never forgive Trump for making a bad pandemic situation so much worse than it needed to be.
But rather than rant more about this from my personal perspective, I'm going to quote two health experts.
First, here's some quotations from a piece dated today in The New Yorker, "The Coronavirus and Building a Better Strategy for Fighting Pandemics." I've highlighted some notable quotes in red.
I recently spoke by phone with Dr. Ashish Jha, a physician and the director of the Harvard Global Health Institute, who has been tracking the coronavirus story closely over the past couple months. He has been especially outspoken about the Trump Administration’s slow response to the threat and also the scandalously slow pace of testing in the United States.
...You recently told Bloomberg News, “We’re so far behind this thing at this point. And the reason we’re so far behind is because we’ve had so little testing. This is such a rapidly moving infection that losing a few days is bad, and losing a couple of weeks is terrible. Losing 2 months is close to disastrous, and that’s what we did.” Can you explain the scenario where we have more testing starting two months ago, and what you think that would look like today?
Oh, my God, if we had got on top of this thing two months ago, America would look very, very different. So, let’s walk through that scenario. Imagine that when the W.H.O. put out its test kit [in January] we either took it or built an effective test ourselves.
We would have then ramped up those tests. The data by late January was very clear that we were going to see a lot of these infections in the United States, and, actually, we had started seeing the first cases from travellers from China. We would have started testing people who had symptoms.
Initially, it was the travellers, because that is how it got introduced. We would have isolated those people. We would have had contact tracing, which is really critical. Everyone that had been in touch with them would have been monitored, and any of them that showed symptoms would have been tested.
If we had done that extensively across the United States, I believe we would have got on top of this infection. We wouldn’t have broad community spread the way we do right now, and I don’t know that we would have a lockdown right now.
I could imagine in some communities the infection might have got a little out of control, and you would close schools and businesses for a couple of weeks, but where we are right now, with this broad, almost national—should be national—shutdown, it’s all because we let this infection get ahead of us.
And what it would have taken to be on top of it was literally what we learned in first-year public-health programs about how you deal with outbreaks. It’s what we have done for hundreds of years, which is identify people infected, trace their contacts, monitor them, test them, and isolate whichever ones are positive. It’s a little chain.
It’s a standard thing. It is what South Korea did. It is what Singapore did. It is what Taiwan did. And they are not out of the woods. But they have not had to shut down their schools or do the kinds of extreme things we have had to do because we haven’t done testing. I think what your readers need to know is that we are in this position today because we wasted two months not getting an infrastructure together for testing Americans who need to be identified with having covid-19.
And here's some passages from a WIRED piece dated yesterday, "The Doctor Who Helped Defeat Smallpox Explains Whats Coming." Again, I've highlighted in red some significant quotes.
LARRY BRILLIANT SAYS he doesn’t have a crystal ball. But 14 years ago, Brilliant, the epidemiologist who helped eradicate smallpox, spoke to a TED audience and described what the next pandemic would look like.
...People say Contagion is prescient. We just saw the science. The whole epidemiological community has been warning everybody for the past 10 or 15 years that it wasn't a question of whether we were going to have a pandemic like this. It was simply when. It's really hard to get people to listen.
I mean, Trump pushed out the admiral on the National Security Council, who was the only person at that level who's responsible for pandemic defense. With him went his entire downline of employees and staff and relationships. And then Trump removed the [early warning] funding for countries around the world.
...We are being asked to do things, certainly, that never happened in my lifetime—stay in the house, stay 6 feet away from other people, don’t go to group gatherings. Are we getting the right advice?
Well, as you reach me, I'm pretending that I'm in a meditation retreat, but I'm actually being semi-quarantined in Marin County. Yes, this is very good advice.
But did we get good advice from the president of the United States for the first 12 weeks? No. All we got were lies. Saying it’s fake, by saying this is a Democratic hoax. There are still people today who believe that, to their detriment. Speaking as a public health person, this is the most irresponsible act of an elected official that I've ever witnessed in my lifetime.
But what you're hearing now [to self-isolate, close schools, cancel events] is right. Is it going to protect us completely? Is it going to make the world safe forever? No. It's a great thing because we want to spread out the disease over time.