The prolonged social isolation necessary for lessening the spread of COVID-19 is having negative effects on all of us, but Donald Trump’s responses are causing millions of people great harm. This week’s round-up showcases the way that the pandemic has exacerbated Trump’s worst impulses, including dishonesty, self-congratulation, anger, and selfishness.
- In the wake of Trump’s dangerous comments suggesting the injection of disinfectant into COVID-19 patients last week, he was widely rebuked by allies, public health officials, and the media. After trying to argue that the statement had been “sarcastic,” he finally stepped back from daily coronavirus press briefings over the weekend – only to release a torrent of invective on Twitter that Sunday, claiming that the briefings themselves weren’t “worth the time & effort.” Unsurprisingly, Trump did another about-face when he returned to the briefing podium on Monday and then continued to appear all week. Trump can’t resist the media spotlight for longer than one weekend.
- Continuing his fixation on using COVID-19 as a vehicle for advancing anti-immigration policies, Trump stated that he might initiate a quid pro quo offer to Democratic states in exchange for federal coronavirus assistance, suggesting that Democratic state governments could “adjust” their sanctuary city programs to better align with his administration’s extreme anti-immigrant agenda to receive economic aid. As usual, Trump is playing politics with people’s lives.
- Relatedly, Trump has escalated his efforts to blame China for the crisis, and the intelligence community revealed administration officials’ attempts to press analysts to find evidence that the coronavirus outbreak originated from a government laboratory in Wuhan, China. Considering Trump’s frequent use of racist language to connect the pandemic to the Chinese people, there is little doubt that his bigoted, racist comments reflect his desire to redirect blame from his own poor leadership. Today also marks the start of Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month, and this year more than ever it is vital to show support for these communities nationwide, as they have suffered a wave of hate in the wake of Trump’s racism.
- While the country remains focused on fighting the spread of coronavirus, Trump and his administration are plotting new attacks on our basic rights, including:
- Trump’s hostility toward vote-by-mail initiatives could have influenced the Treasury Department’s possible move to take unprecedented control of the U.S. Postal Service by imposing restrictions on an emergency loan from Congress. Last month, Trump reportedly refused to sign the CARES Act if it included a USPS bailout, and if he gets his way and USPS shutters, people’s fundamental right to vote could be harmed this November.
- Furthering the right-wing campaign to harm reproductive health care rights, a Trump appointee to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit allowed Arkansas to ban abortions during the coronavirus pandemic.
- The Trump administration is close to finalizing the removal of a policy that protected LGBTQ patients from discrimination in health care – even in the middle of a pandemic, when it is of the utmost importance that everyone receives equal care.
- As more states began to relax stay-at-home orders, public health officials continued to sound the alarm that it is much too soon for such a move, given a fatality total that has now reached more than 60,000 in the U.S. and a nationwide testing capacity that is still far too low. On Monday, Trump released a “blueprint” for states to ramp up testing to begin reopening their economies. Trump’s proposal functionally “passes the buck” to states and only lists the federal government as a “supplier of last resort,” rather than the national leader and partner that it should be. enabling him to abdicate all responsibility to end a testing crisis that he helped to create.
- Trump also muddied the waters about a realistic timeline for increasing testing capacity, stating that the U.S. would be able to provide five million tests per day, the number that public health experts recommend as a minimum for lifting lockdowns, “very soon.” That comment came mere hours after the assistant secretary of health told reporters that COVID-19 testing on that scale wasn’t currently feasible. Throughout the pandemic, Trump has continued to offer unsupported assurances that testing isn’t a “problem at all,” although it clearly is.
- Once again prioritizing the agendas of big corporations over the American people, Trump announced a new coronavirus financial program that would lend $500 billion to large companies – but would provide no oversight in terms of limiting executives’ pay or requiring them to preserve jobs.
- Finally, honing in on what motivates far too many actions Trump has taken as president, The New York Times determined that he had praised himself almost ten times more often than he has displayed empathy for those affected by the pandemic in his daily briefings. From berating critics to bringing a thousand West Point cadets back to campus just to witness his commencement speech, Trump’s primary concern this spring has not been reassuring the country in the face of coronavirus or helping to stem the infection’s spread – it’s been to make himself look good.
Today is May Day, which much of the world outside of the U.S. recognizes as Labor Day. Around the world, people recognize the contributions, struggles, and sacrifices of the worker on this day, but this year, it unfortunately also serves as a reminder of how badly the Trump administration has failed during the coronavirus crisis. Workers nationwide are taking action to remind the government that leadership needs to do a better job of protecting them, now more than ever. In fact, the repercussions of Trump’s abdication of responsibility extend far beyond our borders, as the world presses on through the pandemic without looking to American leadership as it often did in previous crises, including World War II and the Great Depression.
Trump has no excuse for failing our country, its people, and the entire world at every stage of the pandemic. The best way to hold him and the Republican Party accountable will be at the ballot box, be it remote or in person, come November.