Lazy Caturday Reads
Posted: October 3, 2020 Filed under: just because
The Trump regime is imploding. Trump is at Walter Reed receiving experimental treatments for Covid-19, and the following Trump world denizens have also tested positive for the coronavirus: Melania Trump, Hope Hicks, Kellyanne Conway, campaign manager Bill Stepien, RNC chair Ronna McDaniel, Sen. Mike Lee, Sen. Thom Tillis, and new this morning, Sen. Ron Johnson. In addition, Notre Dame president Rev. John Jenkins has also tested positive for the virus.
Chris Christie, who helped Trump prepare for the debate, is waiting for a test result after spending four days with Trump and others, none of whom wore masks.
It appears that the ceremony for Trump’s announcement of his SCOTUS pick Amy Coney Barrett may have been the superspreader event that that led to these infections. More could well be coming.
White House reporters are also contracting the virus.
In addition, infections are being connected to the presidential debate in Cleveland. NBC News: 11 positive coronavirus tests traced to presidential debate, Cleveland officials say.
At least 11 positive coronavirus tests can be traced to members of the media or organizers of this week’s presidential debate in Cleveland, city and clinic officials said Friday.
The city’s announcement came after President Donald Trump, who debated Democratic rival Joe Biden on Tuesday in Cleveland, revealed he and his wife have both tested positive for Covid-19 and are in isolation. Trump was transported to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center on Friday.
“The City of Cleveland is aware of positive cases of Covid-19 following the Sept. 29 presidential debate,” according to a City Hall statement. “We advise anyone who has come in contact with someone who has tested positive to self-quarantine. If anyone who was in attendance has concerns or is symptomatic, they should contact their healthcare provider.”
The city’s announcement also came shortly after the Cleveland Clinic, which oversaw Covid-19 protocols at the debate, said it’s confident that guests at Tuesday night’s event were safe from the coronavirus.
Even after Trump was hospitalized, White House staffers were behaving carelessly. Peter Nicholas at The Atlantic yesterday: What I saw at the White House.
On the White House grounds this morning, senior West Wing aides walked around without masks. They spoke with the press without masks. They huddled privately with one another and didn’t wear masks.
When I visited the White House in August, no one checked to see if I was running a fever or suppressing a hacking cough as I passed through the security booth. The ritual was the same today: I showed up hours after we’d learned that President Donald Trump had tested positive for the coronavirus, yet no one asked about my health. Instead, I was simply searched for weapons and allowed in.
I’ve written twice in recent months about the dangerous conditions around the president—about lax testing of journalists flying with him on Air Force One, about troubling working arrangements inside the executive mansion itself. Trump’s illness seems an outgrowth of the administration’s flagrant disregard for public-health precautions. And yet, there’s no sign of a real course correction: The practices today seemed every bit as lax. When Trump walked deliberately toward Marine One tonight, in a dark suit and matching mask, he waved to reporters who all day had been trying to find out information about his condition.
But he left a White House that, even though he’s been stricken with a potentially fatal disease, seemed no safer than at any other point in the pandemic. Officials don’t appear to have learned much from the nightmare.
The Washington Post reports that the administration didn’t perform testing correctly: The White House relied on a rapid test, but used it in a way it was not intended.
For months, the White House’s strategy for keeping President Trump and his inner circle safe has been to screen all White House visitors with a rapid test.
But one product they use, Abbott’s ID Now, was never intended for that purpose and is known to deliver incorrect results. In issuing an emergency use authorization, the Food and Drug Administration said the test was only to be used by a health care provider “within the first seven days of symptoms.”
The ID Now has several qualities in its favor: It’s portable, doesn’t need skilled technicians to operate and delivers results in 15 minutes. Used to evaluate someone with symptoms, the test can quickly and easily diagnose Covid-19, the disease caused by the coronavirus.
But in people who are infected but not yet showing symptoms, the test is much less accurate, missing as many as one in three cases.
A big problem for journalists and the rest of us is that we can’t trust anything that comes out of this White House. Margaret Sullivan at The Washington Post:
With President Trump apparently struck by covid-19 a month before a critical election and after 200,000 American deaths from the disease, what we really need right now is an entirely credible, fact-based voice from the White House.
Good luck with that.
The Greek philosopher Diogenes was said to have wandered the streets of Athens with a lantern searching in vain for someone to speak the truth. I don’t think he’d have any better luck at the top level of the executive branch right now, despite our extraordinary need for trustworthy communication.
With the exception of Anthony S. Fauci, and maybe a few other top medical experts, there isn’t a trusted truth-teller in sight.
“Donald Trump’s way of dealing with negative news is consistent: Hide it, spin it, and always lie about it,” said Tim O’Brien, a Trump biographer and now a Bloomberg Opinion columnist who was once sued, unsuccessfully, by the then-developer.
The Daily Beast: ‘It’s Just F*ck-Up After F*ck-up’—Trump’s COVID Advisers at Their Breaking Point.
…in Trumpworld, there was anger and internal frustrations over how the virus in general and the president’s infection in particular had been handled. Among White House staff and the re-election effort, some advisers were furious that Trump wasn’t talked out of attending a high-roller fundraiser at his Bedminster, New Jersey, golf club on Thursday night, after the White House already learned of his exposure to the virus, two administration officials said. The senior official was also exasperated that the way the White House bungled the information rollout in the past couple days left the administration wide-open to allegations of yet another disastrous cover-up….
In the hours leading up to the president’s announcement of a new coronavirus testing initiative last week in the Rose Garden, officials at the Centers for Disease Control were left in the dark about the initiative’s actual details. Earlier in the day, Vice President Mike Pence and Adm. Brett Giroir, the administration’s coronavirus testing czar, had hosted a call with the nation’s governors, during which they said that the federal government planned to send states batches of Abbot BinaxNOW point-of-care tests, free of charge, with the hope that they use them for the reopening of schools.
But neither Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation’s leading infectious disease expert, nor CDC Director Robert Redfield were on the call. And when Trump ultimately unveiled the initiative at the Rose Garden, neither Redfield, Fauci nor Dr. Deborah Birx, the coordinator of the White House coronavirus task force, appeared alongside him. (Birx has been traveling across the country to work with colleges to slow community spread). Instead, the president turned to Pence, Giroir and Scott Atlas, an adviser to Trump on COVID-19 issues, to promote the new testing plan.
For those who continue to warn that the virus will infect and kill more Americans without serious attention paid toward stopping community spread, the frustrations have hit a boiling point.
Read the rest at the link.
Olivia Nuzzi at New York Magazine: Trump Infects America. (This was written before Trump was hospitalized.)
“At the best of times, Trumpworld operates with all the strategic direction of a chicken with its head cut off,” a senior Republican official told me. “Right now, they’re operating like a chicken with its head cut off, lit on fire, and thrown off a cliff.” [….]
The most powerful man in the world is, under ordinary circumstances, also the most protected. He is guarded with snipers and bomb-sniffing dogs. Anyplace he goes, any room he’ll set foot in, is swept by security. Any person he’s expected to meet is scanned for weapons. His food is tested for contamination. He is so well cared for by doctors that they might as well be monitoring his heart’s every beat. That he is now infected by COVID-19 is a testament not to the strength of the virus, not to the failures of his White House staff, but to his carelessness. How can you protect someone who refuses to be protected?
He risked not only his own health but the health of others around him. This was true before his diagnosis. In June, he insisted on holding an indoor rally in Tulsa, which led to swelling numbers of infections in the city. At least one guest at that event, Herman Cain, would later die from the virus after spending time on a ventilator in Georgia. Trump escaped without harm, but he couldn’t help but push his luck. After his closest adviser, Hope Hicks, showed signs that she had COVID-19, forcing her to isolate on the flight back from a MAGA rally, the president and other members of his staff made the decision to travel to Bedminster, New Jersey, anyway, where he hosted a fundraiser and met with his supporters. When Hicks tested positive, she worried about others around her who might be infected, too, but the White House sought to keep that information from the public. Without Jennifer Jacobs, a dogged Bloomberg reporter who broke the story about Hicks’s illness, the world might still be in the dark about the sickness sweeping through the West Wing and the highest levels of our government. And then there are the indirect effects of the president’s actions, the ripples through society that threaten to touch each one of us. A Trump campaign volunteer who refuses to wear a face mask on principle and who believes the media has overblown the threat of the virus told me the president’s diagnosis didn’t make her nervous at all. “I don’t deny the virus is out there,” she said. “I’m just crossing my fingers and going for the herd immunity.”
We do not yet know the extent of the damage in Washington. Much of this is not a function of the strange way the virus spreads from person to person, but of the unethical way the president governs without transparency. For instance, it’s not possible to compile a complete list of people the president has come into contact with over the last two weeks because the Trump administration refuses to release visitor logs for the White House. Multiple attendees at the Rose Garden event for Trump’s nominee for the Supreme Court, Amy Coney Barrett (who herself recovered from the virus this summer), have already announced that they’ve since gotten sick. Multiple reporters in the White House press pool have tested positive for the virus today, according to the White House Correspondents’ Association. We do not yet know how many White House officials will contract it, whether the virus will rip through Capitol Hill, or how far this threatens the presidential line of succession.
Read the whole thing at New York Magazine.
One more from Susan Glasser at The New Yorker: “There Is Zero Reason to Panic”: On Trump’s Coronavirus Case and the Shredded Credibility of His White House.
The truth is, this is probably the least surprising national shock ever. For months, Trump has made coronavirus denialism his signature, at great cost to millions of Americans, more than two hundred thousand of whom are now dead. He courted personal as well as political disaster by refusing to wear a mask publicly and by encouraging others not to do so, either. His positive coronavirus test always had the feel of an inevitable plot twist. But the President of the United States getting diagnosed with a potentially lethal illness for which there is no cure a month before a national election is no less monumental for being fully anticipated. Will Trump recover? Will we believe him, or his discredited White House, if he claims that he has?
By Friday, nothing was clear except that Washington was trapped in a new waiting game, wondering about the health of an obese seventy-four-year-old with a penchant for not telling the truth about his health. Wondering how it would affect the election thirty-two days from now; wondering how 2020 could once again deal us such a hand. History is so much less exhausting when it happens to other people.
“There is zero reason to panic,” a breathless Fox News morning anchor said on Friday, reading from what she said was an “exclusive interview” with the Trump White House adviser Dr. Scott Atlas, who has lately gained the President’s favor by publicly and privately encouraging Trump’s coronavirus-is-disappearing fantasies. Trump’s diagnosis had been revealed less than twelve hours earlier. What could these White House officials do but try to pretend that everything will be just fine—and hope that they are right? “He’s hard at work,” the White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, told reporters Friday afternoon. He’s in “good spirits” and “very energetic,” the White House chief of staff, Mark Meadows, said, smiling in the early-fall sunlight as he spoke, maskless, to reporters on the White House driveway and acknowledged that, well, yes, actually, Trump was experiencing “mild symptoms.” But, he insisted, “The American people can rest assured that we have a President that is not only on the job, will remain on the job, and I’m optimistic that he’ll have a very quick and speedy recovery.”
Yeah, right. Who can we believe? No one in Trump World except maybe Dr. Fauci. I remember Lyndon Johnson’s Vietnam “credibility gap.” Trump’s is so much worse than that, and he’s killed far more Americans than died in Vietnam. I hate to think what more we are going to learn over the weekend.
NOTE: The images in this post are paintings by Kazuaki Horoitomo
Please stay safe and take care of yourselves. I hope you’ll check in and let us know how you’re doing. These are unbelievably stressful times.