The governors of Florida and Texas were the poster children for leaders who denied COVID’s virulence in order to gain political favor with the President. Now their states face record spikes in infections. The governors are responding by holding press conferences that seek to cover their past incompetence, and address the dire current situation without angering the President. Their actions still do not confront the problem directly.
The pandemic has been mismanaged horribly by the President. Furthermore, the governors of Florida, Texas, Georgia, and a dozen other mainly republican leaning southern and southwestern states denied the seriousness of the COVID pandemic. Ron DeSantis, even bragged that Florida had tackled COVID. He mocked New York and sought to shame health experts who predicted a COVID crisis for Florida.
Over the weekend, Florida had 18,000 new COVID cases. Now, DeSantis and other COVID denying governors have reversed course, altered their message, and halted their aggressive reopening plans. In listening to their weekend press conferences, it was clear how much they have tied themselves in verbal knots. They gyrated between claims that they once defeated COVID, but must now brace for the current spike in COVID cases.
In truth, COVID was never defeated! The governors simply followed Trump’s direction and played politics with the pandemic by regurgitating the White House’s false narrative. In contrast, states like New York and New Jersey fought the virus aggressively.
Last week’s stock market fluctuations signaled the real economy is hurting badly from the COVID pandemic. The basic fact is the national economy nor state economies will recover substantially until an intelligent COVID strategy is implemented and coordinated -nationally.
Facing a record resurgence of infections, the President is acting like a punch-drunk boxer – flailing wildly in hopes of landing a lucky political punch. Rather than acknowledging the pandemic, Trump has fixated on exploiting racial divisions, protecting confederate monuments, deporting dreamers, and uprooting the last provisions of Obama Care. Over the weekend, he even retweeted a white supremacist video – an all-time low even for him.
Someone among the President’s trusted entourage needs to remind him that the corona virus is a highly infectious disease, not a bad dream he can wish away. The country is approaching 130,000 deaths, and the President’s lagging poll numbers are rooted fundamentally in the incompetent manner in which he has managed the pandemic.
As COVID gets more out-of-control, the economy convulse more into the worst crisis since the Great Depression. Just this week, 1.5 million more workers filed for unemployment compensation, bringing the pandemic total to 47.5 million. Well over 20 million workers remain out of work, and the real unemployment rate (if the Census Bureau should ever decide to measure it correctly) is approaching 20%, not 15%, as officially reported.
The greatest tragedy is this was an avoidable situation. Tens of thousands of people did not have to die. Countries whose leaders took control from the outset are gradually moving back to normalcy. On the other hand, the US is galloping toward more massive deaths, overcrowded hospitals, and new lock-downs.
Successful countries have a crucial ingredient we do not have – a leader who listens to health experts and puts the country’s welfare above his political aspirations.
It breaks my heart to see so many young people and the elderly move around without masks and social distancing. Restaurants and bars are packed, and beaches are over-run with unmasked tourists. The prevailing logic of the non-compilers seems to be this; “you can’t stop living because you are afraid to die.” Well, at the rate the country is going, soon tens of thousand more people will no longer have to worry about anything – including life!