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Monday, December 09, 2019

With Virus Surging In Red States, Trump Is Suddenly Concerned

@alexvhenderson
Photo by The White House

Reprinted with permission from Alternet

Last week — with the number of new coronavirus infections surging in many Sun Belt states — reporters were quick to report a change in tone from President Donald Trump, who resumed his coronavirus press briefings, encouraged mask wearing (something he mocked in the past) and even canceled the in-person part of the Republican National Convention that had been planned for Jacksonville, Florida. Trump's plummeting poll numbers have often been cited as a key reason for his change in tone, but here's another one: many of the Sun Belt surges are occurring in either red states such as Texas and Georgia or swing states with Republican governors (Florida and Arizona, for example). And Trump is expressing a level of concern that he wasn't expressing when the pandemic was killing so many Americans in blue states and blue cities.


Ashley Parker and Philip Rucker, in an article for the Washington Post, examine the toll that Trump's response to the pandemic has been taking on his reelection campaign. And the article discusses the abundance of dangerous COVID-19 increases in states with a lot of Trump supporters.

"In the past couple of weeks," Parker and Rucker report, "senior advisers began presenting Trump with maps and data showing spikes in coronavirus cases among 'our people' in Republican states, a senior administration official said. They also shared projections predicting that virus surges could soon hit politically important states in the Midwest — including Michigan, Minnesota and Wisconsin, the official said. This new approach seemed to resonate, as he hewed closely to pre-scripted remarks in a trio of coronavirus briefings last week."

The reporters explain, "Trump's shortcomings have perplexed even some of his most loyal allies, who increasingly have wondered why the president has not at least pantomimed a sense of command over the crisis or conveyed compassion for the millions of Americans impacted by it."


For months, much of the carnage with COVID-19 was occurring in blue states or blue cities. New York City, during the spring, was the epicenter of the pandemic in the United States; thousands died in NYC. And New Jersey, a blue state that sometimes elects Republican governors, was hit hard. But COVID-19 was never a "blue state illness" that didn't pose a threat to red states. It is a global crisis, and that crisis has recently hit the Sun Belt in a major way. NYC has flattened the curve, while Sun Belt cities are seeing their hospitals and medical systems overwhelmed.

Looking at a map of COVID-19 infections published with Parker and Rucker's article, it's evident that many of the Sun Belt hotspots are states Trump will need to win if he is going to be reelected. That includes Florida (a swing state), some light red states (Texas and Georgia) and some deep red states such as South Carolina, Mississippi and Alabama.


With COVID-19 ravaging so many Sun Belt states Trump is hoping to win, he is suddenly emphasizing how dangerous the pandemic is — after months of encouraging states to ease their social distancing restrictions as soon as possible.

Trump's policy decisions have often been affected by his desire to pander to his red state base — not a concern for the greater good of the United States. And sadly, the coronavirus pandemic is no different.

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