There Is No Plan

JM Ashby
Written by JM Ashby

Trump continues to openly fantasize about reopening the economy next month, but the only way that's ever going to happen is if we make coronavirus tests available to virtually every American and tens of millions more every couple weeks.

The White House and the CDC have subtly acknowledged that's what will be required, but there's a problem.

Most major communities must be “at the end” of their outbreaks, said Pence, who leads the White House’s coronavirus task force. The country also should have widespread testing available, therapeutics for Americans who contract the disease, and guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention on how large and small businesses can operate safely. [...]

CDC Director Robert Redfield outlined similar criteria on Thursday during an interview with CNN. Officials, he said, need to understand the spread of the virus, strengthen public health infrastructure, prepare hospitals and other medical facilities, and foster a belief among Americans that it’s the right time to do this.

“Those are really the four most critical elements that we’re working and planning on now, with the anticipation of beginning to reopen our nation one region at a time and get us all back to work and get prepared for next year, which will be another challenging time,” he said.

The problem is that no one is working on "widespread testing" at the scale we're going to need. There is no evidence that the federal government or states are preparing to test tens of millions of Americans every single week, at least not in any plans that have been shared publicly.

Trump appears to believe that the kind of widespread testing and contact tracing we need will just magically appear next month but, as you know, the federal government actually just ended financial support for testing sites today and handed control over the states.

During his daily press briefing this afternoon, New York Governor Andrew Cuomo acknowledged the difficulty of reopening the economy by saying we'll need a "mindboggling" number of tests to approach anything even close to normal. We'll need many "millions" of tests, he said, and that's just for New York.

Vice President Mike Pence says he sees widespread testing and surveillance coming online "as soon as the summer," but that doesn't mean next month. The first day of summer is June 20th and color me skeptical that we'll be prepared to do this anytime before July or August.

I'm concerned there's going to be a very loud conservative chorus led by Trump for reopening the economy next month before we've done anything to actually make it safe or possible. Our patchwork of state governments, some of whom are governed by arch conservative idiots, combined with the Trump regime's incompetence and belligerence makes it really difficult to imagine that we'll be able to thread the needle of reopening the economy without disaster.

  • muselet

    Donald Trump is not listening to experts in public health or virology or epidemiology. He is instead listening to the assorted cranks and snake-oil salesmen who appear regularly on FNC, and the loons in his own administration, who are loudly pushing for an end to restrictions so the economy can, as Trump himself tweeted the other day, BOOM.

    Problem is, lifting restrictions without widely-available testing and a clear indication that the rate of new cases is low will—not might, will—lead to a higher and wider second-wave outbreak. If you want to see an economy collapse, try reimposing restrictions during a second outbreak.

    I used to describe George W Bush as intellectually lazy, and I stand by that assessment: he simply couldn’t rouse himself to do any research at all, he just accepted the conclusions of his aides, even the obviously-wrong ones. Donald Trump is worse: he is aggressively ignorant, actively avoiding and discounting information that doesn’t align with his opinions.

    We would be far better off with an intellectually lazy president than an aggressively ignorant one right now.


  • gescove

    Our federal government is beginning to look like a failed state. The administration is both ineffectual and lacks legitimacy. Basic responsibilities (i.e., protect our citizens) are disregarded or no longer function properly. They are unable or unwilling to provide needed public services (testing, protective equipment, etc.). The unraveling of our institutions is engendered and/or exacerbated by widespread corruption and criminality. The Republicans must be so pleased… they are drowning government in the bathtub at long last. But, you know, MAGA!