This week, instead of demonstrating the leadership our nation sorely needs during this public health crisis – and on the same day that the U.S. surpassed three million confirmed cases – Donald Trump continued to lie and sow chaos and confusion.
On July 7, Trump said that he disagreed with top infectious disease expert Dr. Anthony Fauci that “we are still knee-deep in the first wave” of the pandemic and claimed that the U.S. was in “a good place.” As always, there is ample evidence to the contrary.
- By the end of June, at least 15 states broke single-day coronavirus case records, cases were on the rise in 33 states and U.S. territories, and on July 8, the U.S. reported over 60,000 confirmed cases nationwide in a single day for the first time (and then did so again on July 9). Overall, COVID-19 cases rose by approximately 50 percent in June, with the most severe numbers in states that were the first to reopen their economies. Additionally, the most recent surge in cases has overwhelmed testing capacity in states that were already barely able to keep up with the need for widespread testing.
- Nearly half the U.S. adult population is without a job right now, 32 percent of U.S. households missed their start-of-month July housing payments, and as of June 20, nearly 23 million people were collecting unemployment benefits, according to recent Labor Department data. Republicans are arguing that the assistance from the CARES Act has given people an incentive not to go back to work. In fact, restaurants, retail and other small businesses continue to close due to the staggering rise in cases.
- On July 7, Trump demanded that the country’s schools reopen this fall, an incredibly dangerous move that likely was motivated by his desire to boost the economy and win his reelection. The next day, he threatened to cut federal funding from schools that do not do as he wishes. The following day, Vice President Mike Pence announced that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) would release new recommendations on reopening schools and reiterated that “we don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don’t open.”
- And in the latest chapter of Trump’s attack on immigration, U.S. Immigrations and Customs Enforcement (ICE) announced on July 6 that international college students will not be permitted to remain in the country if their school switches to online-only instruction this fall. In addition to Trump’s extreme hostility toward immigrants, this order is widely seen as a way for Trump to pressure higher education institutions to reopen.
- Newly released data from the Small Business Administration (SBA) on its Paycheck Protection Program (PPP) reveal that several businesses and people with direct ties to Trump, including his partner in a Waikiki, Hawaii, hotel, the Kushner family, and several religious-right campaign backers, all received PPP loans. In addition, a new Public Citizen report indicates that 40 Washington lobbyists with direct ties to Trump helped their clients, including five former administration officials, secure more than $10 billion in federal pandemic aid.
- Despite a recent analysis by a Goldman Sachs economist that indicated that a clear national mask mandate could lead to better public health and economic outcomes, Trump continues to refuse to wear a mask. Multiple Trump staffers and supporters who work closely with him, including multiple Secret Service agents, a top fundraising official for his reelection campaign (and girlfriend of his son, Donald Trump Jr.), and Herman Cain, have all tested positive for COVID-19. Tulsa City-County Health Department Director Dr. Bruce Dart stated that Trump’s indoor rally on June 20 – which included many maskless attendees – “likely contributed” to the significant surge in coronavirus cases that the area is now seeing.
- Finally, Trump has returned to touting hydroxychloroquine, which has yet to be proven as effective and could cause dangerous side effects. On Monday, he tweeted his support of the drug, citing a flawed study on its effectiveness, and urged the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to “act now.”
As Thomas Chatterton Williams succinctly put it in The Atlantic on July 2, “American leadership has politicized the pandemic instead of trying to fight it.” Lately, it appears that the Trump administration’s newest strategy is to hope that “Americans will grow numb to the escalating death toll” rather than to work to lessen the virus’s impact.
In the midst of Trump’s callous mishandling of this pandemic more than 130,000 Americans have lost their lives. To be clear, none of these deaths is acceptable – and Trump needs to be held accountable for his many failures that have enabled such devastating and preventable results.