Eleven months after the first confirmed case of COVID-19 in the United States, coronavirus cases, hospitalizations, and deaths continue to skyrocket. This week, the U.S. reached devastating pandemic milestones for the single deadliest day and the most hospitalizations in a day since the first case of coronavirus in the U.S. in January.
Yet despite the danger, Donald Trump continues to abdicate his duty to contain the pandemic and ameliorate the many hardships that millions of Americans are facing.
- Wednesday, December 2, was the U.S.’s deadliest day of the pandemic yet, with at least 2,885 new deaths and 199,988 cases reported In addition, 100,226 patients are currently hospitalized – more than double the number from the beginning of November. The national death toll now exceeds 274,000 – the most of any country around the world – and the total number of reported cases in the U.S. has soared past 14 million.
- As cases and deaths have continued to climb, Trump administration officials have repeatedly attempted to brief him on the damage Americans will face in the coming months, particularly without any additional federal aid. But one senior administration official reported that he “has not changed his approach.” Trump also did not attend the single White House coronavirus task force meeting in November.
- Instead, Trump remains hyper-focused on the impending arrival of a vaccine, claiming that it will be a “miracle” fix and ignoring that vaccine approval is merely one step to getting it from the production labs to the American public. On November 30, Dr. Rick Bright, who has been appointed to President-elect Joe Biden’s coronavirus task force, expressed his dismay over the lack of a plan to distribute the vaccine, saying, “I keep seeing and hearing that Operation Warp Speed is … prepping airplanes and trucks … to drop the vaccine off at a warehouse full of deep freezers somewhere. But I don’t hear much more detail about the plan after that.” Bright also emphasized the Trump administration’s failure to “[make] sure adequate financial resources have been made available to support immunization programs and to administer the vaccine.”
- This week, the White House and Trump’s Secretary of State Mike Pompeo both announced plans to host large, indoor holiday parties on federal property throughout December, irrespective of COVID-19 safety guidance. At the White House’s first holiday event on November 30, few people wore masks, and coughing could be heard in the background.
- Evidence continues to roll in about the Trump administration’s terrible execution of the Paycheck Protection Program. Although the emergency funds were supposed to support small businesses, more than half of the $522 billion in federal relief went to corporate businesses.
- Beyond the gruesome public health impact of the pandemic, many Americans continue to suffer from its devastating economic consequences, which officials forecast will only get worse as the pandemic continues to ravage the U.S.:
- More Americans – about 26 million adults – are facing food insecurity today than at any other point during the pandemic, or at any other point between now and 1998.
- Almost 18 million adults are currently behind on mortgage or rent payments. Among them, 5.8 million expect to lose their homes when COVID-19 relief expires at the end of the year.
- Dozens of pandemic-related federal aid programs will expire at or before the end of 2020.
- Programs to provide emergency income to the five million people who have been out of work for more than six months, as well as the seven million people who operate as freelancers or contract workers and are ineligible for traditional unemployment benefits, will expire by the end of the year. At least one of them will expire the day after Christmas.
- 125,000 companies have been receiving a tax credit designed to encourage them not to lay off workers that will expire, as will the ability for companies to defer payroll taxes and take deductions on financial losses.
- Critical aid totaling over $150 billion to state and local governments will expire, leaving residents of these municipalities vulnerable to budget cuts to education, police, and health care systems.
Despite public health officials repeatedly pleading with Trump to start publicly advocating for mask-wearing and social distancing regulations, many of these same people feel that he is unlikely to do so. “It would mean admitting that he was wrong and Tony Fauci was right,” said Dr. William Schaffner, preventive medicine specialist at Vanderbilt University’s medical school. Director of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Dr. Robert Redfield, warned that the death count in the U.S. could reach up to 450,000 by February 2021 if Trump fails to adequately support such precautions.
For five months, Trump’s staunch ally and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell has refused to pass the comprehensive and robust relief Americans desperately need, including the HEROES Act.
It’s past time for the Senate to act. Americans need and deserve federal support, and Congress must immediately pass legislation that provides Americans meaningful relief instead of flimsy half-measures that cater to special interests.