Physical distancing guidelines are in effect in the U.S. until April 30. As I noted in two earlier blog posts, Trump and his Republican followers are desperate to see restrictions loosened ASAP so the economy can start to recover from the hit it’s taken.
With the November election looming, the stakes, in both a political and economic sense, are high. But the human stakes are also high. And the unfortunate reality is that, at this point anyway, the U.S. has had little success in “flattening the curve” of COVID-19 infections. Instead, the pandemic is still picking up steam.
Recognizing that reality, governors of states in areas that were especially hard hit in the pandemic’s early days have announced their intention to coordinate with each other on whatever strategy is eventually settled on to open up their economies.
On the west coast, the states are California, Oregon and Washington. In the north-east, the states include New York, New Jersey, Connecticut, Pennsylvania, Delaware and Rhode Island.
The Trump administration has tried to push back against that idea, arguing that the president has the ultimate authority. But according to constitutional experts, that’s incorrect.
As of April 14 at noon CST, the U.S. COVID-19 totals stood at 603,059 infections and 25,143 deaths. Right now, Wisconsin is in the mid-range of states. But concern exists that the primary that was held there last Tuesday, where Republican state officials rejected calls for an alternative to in-person voting, might result in a spike of COVID-19 cases.
Another wild card is states where evangelical Christians, over the last two weekends for Palm Sunday and Easter, went ahead with large-scale services against medical advice about the importance of physical distancing. Even in remote South Dakota, a large pork plant was forced to close on Monday after 200 of 240 workers tested positive. So the battle against COVID-19 is far from over.
So dysfunctional are the politics in the U.S. right now that speculation exists that Trump is laying the groundwork to fire the White House’s main advisor on the pandemic Anthony Fauci (director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases).
For now, that’s been denied by the Whitehouse. But because of Fauci’s insistence on sticking to science in dealing with the pandemic and not putting political and economic considerations ahead of human health he has become a target of Trump’s right-wing media and Republican followers — to the point of even receiving death threats.
In typical Trump fashion, the “president” seems to want all the power to deal with the pandemic, but none of the responsibility. So yeah, quite a leader.