Reprinted with permission from Alternet
President Donald Trump, with the help of Vice President Mike Pence, has been trying to give the impression that coronavirus has been largely defeated in the United States — which, of course, it hasn't. And Greg Sargent, in his Washington Post column, lays out some ways in which Pence is being "deceptive" and downplaying the threat that COVID-19 still poses to Americans.
"President Trump and his advisers have plainly decided they have no hope of truly defeating the novel coronavirus and getting the nation on track to meaningful, sustained economic recovery in time for his reelection," Sargent explains. "So, they're spending far more of their time on the next best thing: creating the illusion that we have already roared most of the way back to victory on both fronts."
Sargent notes that during a recent conference call with governors, Pence encouraged them to "explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing." And Sargent explained why the vice president is being "deceptive."
"A new Post analysis finds, in six states, the seven-day average of new cases has gone up in the past two weeks even as average testing has dropped," Sargent asserts. "In another 14 states, the rate of new cases is rising faster than the rise in the average number of tests. Meanwhile, that analysis finds, in ten states, the rise in positive testing has been edging up in the past two weeks, a key metric for gauging Pence's claim and the need for worry about spread."
Pence, according to Sargent, is pushing "the idea that any and all new outbreaks can be dismissed as mere localized outbursts and not as a sign of broader peril. Tellingly, Pence called outbreaks 'intermittent' and took care to tell governors that Trump has been using the term 'embers.'"
The way to gauge how dangerous coronavirus is, Sargent stresses, is not by the number of COVID-19 tests that are being performed, but by the percentage of tests that are coming back positive.
"In so many ways, Trump's response is designed to create the illusion that the problem has been entirely licked," Sargent warns. "The task force is largely winding down. Trump has a rally planned in Oklahoma, justified by Pence's false claim that the curve has been flattened there. And Trump and Pence continue to refuse to wear masks in public — something Trump reportedly worries would send the wrong message."
Pretending that coronavirus has been largely defeated in the U.S., Sargent emphasizes, won't make the pandemic any less dangerous to Americans.
The columnist warns, "Trump and Pence continue to refuse to set an example…. To Trump, creating the illusion of near-total victory appears paramount."