After a spike in covid-19 cases throughout the South and Southwestern United States, the White House Coronavirus Task Force assembled for its first press briefing in two months. Predictably, Dr. Anthony Fauci, the director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, provided a litany of grave but generally useful information.
“What we’re dealing with right now is community spread in the context of a substantial proportion of the people that are getting infected do not know they’re infected, they’re not symptomatic, they’re asymptomatic individuals,” Fauci said. “The classic paradigm of identification, isolation and contact tracing, to actually contain that, is very difficult to make that work under those circumstances.”
He added that “A risk for you is not just isolated to you” and that “The only way we’re going to end it is by ending it together.”
But even more predictably, Vice President Mike Pence’s contribution was a mealy-mouthed medley of steady optimism, offering the American people misleading claims and flat out denials about the extent to which federal and local officials have dropped the ball on managing covid-19's spread.
It was bad enough that Pence continued to insist that the increasing number in confirmed covid-19 cases is a direct correlation with an increase in testing—which is not true. That’s to be expected, given the Trump administration’s obsession with spinning anything and everything about covid-19 into a positive. His denial that there is a connection between states likes Florida and Texas re-opening too soon and rising covid-19 cases, however, was a next-level delusion.
“I think there will be a temptation for people to look at these sunbelt states that have been reopening and putting people back to work and suggest that the reopening has to do with what we’ve been seeing in the last week or so,” Pence said. “But frankly in the cases of each of these states, they re-opened—in some cases—almost two months ago.”
He claimed that the new cases have been low and steady until now—which is not true—and went on to subtly blame The Youths™ for the increase in new cases. While cases for those in their twenties and thirties are up tremendously, they’re not the ones to blame for this new surge. Bad policy is.
But the bad-faith arguments didn’t stop there. When CBS reporter Paula Reid asked if Pence and Trump were complicit in encouraging Americans to ignore safe practices amidst the pandemic by holding campaign rallies, Pence smugly used freedom of speech as a cover:
“Freedom of speech and the right to peaceably assemble is enshrined in the Constitution of the United States. And even in a health crisis, the American people don’t forfeit our Constitutional rights. Working with state officials as we did. in Oklahoma and as we did in Arizona, we’re creating settings where people can choose to participate in the political process, and we’ll continue to do that. I think it’s really important that we recognize how important freedom and personal responsibility are in this entire equation.”
In other news, on Friday the House of Representatives passed a bill that would make D.C. the nation’s 51st state. CNN reports that the bill would shrink the federal area to the area surrounding the White House, Supreme Court, Capitol Building, and other assorted federal buildings along the National Mall. The only Democratic Nay vote came from Rep. Collin Peterson of Minnesota, who represents a Trump-leaning district.
But don’t expect it to pass the Republican-majority Congress. Sen. Tom Cotton is already having a great time making awful cases as to why D.C. shouldn’t be a state. Cotton spoke on the Senate floor Thursday and said: “Wyoming is smaller than Washington by population, but it has three times as many workers in mining, logging and construction, and 10 times as many workers in manufacturing. In other words, Wyoming is a well-rounded working-class state. A new state of Washington would not be.”
Ha, yeah, OK.
At least President Trump isn’t afraid to just come right out with it. From CNN:
Trump told the New York Post in an interview last month that DC statehood will “never happen unless we have some very, very stupid Republicans.”
“DC will never be a state,” Trump said in the interview. “You mean District of Columbia, a state? Why? So we can have two more Democratic — Democrat senators and five more congressmen? No thank you. That’ll never happen.”
Well, it looks like D.C. might be stuck with its passive-aggressive “Taxation Without Representation” license plates for a while longer, but hey, it’s been a long time coming.
- Breaking News: Attorney General William Barr still sucks. [New York Times]
- Here’s a look at how Arizona fumbled the bag with covid-19. [Washington Post]
- Dick Cheney is alive and wearing a mask.