The coronavirus death toll in the United States approached 17,000 last night and the virus continued its spread to rural America. As Rachel Maddow reported last night, many outbreaks in the middle of the country can be directly traced to religious gatherings. Think about it. People in close proximity, shaking hands, passing collection plates, singing together–it’s a recipe for an outbreak.
Trump continued to suggest that he wants America to get back to business by May 1st, but this delusional thinking flies in the face of almost every expert opinion. We won’t be anywhere near normal until we have fast, widespread testing, and we’re nowhere near that goal. Only roughly 1% of Americans have been tested thus far, and the Trump regime was getting ready to pull their funding from testing sites around the country, pushing states to take control, but changed their minds at the last minute in response to public outcry. A month ago Trump assured us that anyone could get a test whenever they wanted. But a month later, we are nowhere near that broken promise. And it’s not even clear if the federal government will be in charge of what must ultimately be a comprehensive nationwide virus testing effort. Trump’s inaction has been, and continues to be, disgraceful.
Weekly jobless claims registered an additional 6.6 million people out of work yesterday, raising the four-week total above 17 million and ballooning the unemployment rate to 13%, the worst since the Great Depression. And the federal unemployment system has not been able to handle the load. Both the unemployment insurance system is backlogged and failing, as well as the small business disaster loan program. No wonder Trump wants to re-open the economy even though it will greatly prolong the epidemic and cause many thousands of additional deaths. As Doctor Anthony Fauci has said repeatedly, we can’t just snap back to normal. We are near the beginning of a long iterative process that will require massive testing and contact tracing, the development of virus treatments, and hopefully a vaccine–it one is even possible. But “re-opening the economy” won’t be up to Trump, it will be up to individual governors and their risk assessment relative to their citizens. Trump’s only real play is to encourage people to disobey their state governments, and it’s possible his cult will heed his call…at their own peril.
The big fight ahead for activists will be pushing for voting enhancements like early voting, absentee voting and mail-in voting for all citizens. The GOP hates anything that gets more people voting, so they will fight these things tooth and nail in the states that lack them, so we need to support any left-leaning politicians pushing for these needed reforms. If Trump is able to goad some people into going back to work prematurely, the epidemic could well last into November, so it’s imperative that we protect and enhance the vote.
In case you are stressed or exhausted, here’s a helpful article from the Washington Post:
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”
Have a safe and restful weekend, and never forget the seventy days.