More than 100 days into the coronavirus pandemic, here’s where things stand in the United States: 2.3 million people have been infected, and some 120,000 people — more than in any other country — have died. Early epicenters like New York and New Jersey appear to have gotten their outbreaks under control, but several new hot spots have emerged, including in Florida, Texas and Arizona, where daily case counts are higher than ever. Over all, the number of new cases a day is rising, and the rest of the world is taking note: The European Union is mulling travel restrictions that would prohibit Americans from entering any nation in the bloc because the United States has failed to contain the pandemic.
None of these developments have put an end to the denialism that has prevailed at the White House from the start. In an op-ed for The Wall Street Journal last week, Vice President Mike Pence argued that reports of a coming second wave of infections were exaggerated. That argument was seconded by Larry Kudlow, the administration’s top economic adviser.
A few days after the publication of Mr. Pence’s op-ed, President Trump noted at a rally in Tulsa, Okla., that the nation’s case counts would not rise quite so egregiously if the U.S. stopped testing so many people for the virus. “When you do testing to that extent, you’re gonna find more people, you’re gonna find more cases,” he told the crowd. “So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’” Administration officials later insisted that the president was joking about requesting a testing slowdown, but it’s difficult to see the humor in that punchline: If the U.S. reduces testing, case counts will decrease, but death counts will undoubtedly increase.
The president’s remarks were hardly surprising. They harken back to the earlier days of the outbreak, when Mr. Trump suggested that coronavirus-exposed passengers be kept onboard the Grand Princess cruise ship so they would not contribute to the case count on American soil. At that point, he’d already spent weeks downplaying the risks of the virus, saying, among other things, that it would disappear like a “miracle” come spring.
But it would still be better if the nation’s leaders worked to prevent as many people as possible from contracting the virus in the first place — and to do that, they’ll have to start by acknowledging that the threat is real. On Tuesday, Dr. Robert Redfield, the director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, called the pandemic “the greatest public health crisis our nation and world have confronted in a century.” It’s past time for the rest of the administration to start taking it that seriously.
— New York Times
No one put a noose in NASCAR driver Bubba Wallace’s garage, and no one tried to poison three cops with milkshakes: Both tales of mistaken outrages have some telling lessons.
The FBI agents sent in to investigate learned that the “noose” found in a garage assigned to Wallace (an outspoken Black Lives Matter supporter) was just a pull-rope for the door that had been there since last October.
And NYPD investigators quickly determined that the “poisoned” shakes served to three cops were just the result of a badly cleaned shake machine — and they’d ordered remotely, so Shake Shack workers didn’t even know the drinks were for police officers.
Yet hysteria followed in each case, before any facts were in: Police unions tweeted outrage at the “poisonings,” while CNN and some other media exploded over the supposed racist threat.
Lesson No. 1 holds for both stories: Social media and 24/7 cable spread a whole lot of “news” that isn’t. Wait for the facts before you lose your marbles.
But Lesson No. 2 is about the contrast: The cop unions pulled their tweets once the facts came out. Yet some insist the debunked Wallace story is somehow still true.
Atlantic columnist Jemele Hill won’t accept the full facts, tweeting: “It. Was. A. Noose. They just don’t believe it was directed at Bubba Wallace.” Which, conveniently, lets her claim it’s all still “a disgusting reminder of who this sport is for.”
The Rev. Al Sharpton, meanwhile, wants the investigation to continue — until, we guess, it proves that Tawana Brawley told the truth.
The times are tense, and everyone’s buggy after months of lockdown; jumping to conclusions is understandable. But refusing to admit you did so is foolish and vile.
— New York Post
The coronavirus epidemic is much like wartime: Resources must be used effectively. That may not always have been the case.
February and March were the months in which COVID-19 took the offensive in the United States. They also were a time when supplies and equipment needed to battle the disease were relatively scarce.
A few days ago, a Transportation Safey Administration official in Kansas, Jay Brainard, filed an official complaint about how his agency handled the epidemic. He made the complaint to the federal Office of Special Counsel, which handles filings by whistleblowers in the federal government.
Brainard alleges the TSA failed to train its employees to deal with the coronavirus. Worse, he alleges TSA officials would not allow lower-level supervisors to give N95 face masks to airport screeners in March, despite the fact stockpiles of the personal protective gear were available.
We know COVID-19 came into the United States from travelers who came here from abroad. In some cases, they were Americans returning from foreign countries.
Failure to train TSA airport screeners adequately may have allowed some coronavirus carriers to pass out into the general population.
Since March, the TSA has improved procedures dramatically.
Brainard’s allegations need to be investigated thoroughly. If they are true, that is no doubt because TSA officials thought they were pursuing the correct course. They may have been mistaken. If so, that knowledge could prove invaluable in the future.
— Adirondack Daily Enterprise
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