The Covid-19 toll continues to mount, topping 20,000 deaths nationwide this weekend, as the number of confirmed cases zooms past a half-a-million. New York City is seeing a consistent plateauing of fatalities, still at a horrific rate of 700+ per day, but hospitalizations and ICU visits are down so the curve is slowly bending.
Every newscast over the weekend focused on the question of when and how this shutdown will end, and almost everyone agreed that we will only be able to slowly break the quarantine if we have rapid, widespread testing and contact tracing enabling us to know quickly and broadly who has the virus, who HAD the virus, and who has been exposed. But it’s clear that in order to be effective such an effort must be national, not piecemeal with some states and not others. Tests must be made at a scale and speed that no single state can produce or compel–only a federal effort can make it happen. Sadly, our government is run by incompetent hacks so we will suffer far longer than we should versus a scenario where the White House was in capable hands. Radical conservative Grover Norquist once said his goal was to get government down to the size where he could “drown it in the bathtub,” and that’s essentially what Trump and his corrupt regime have been working on. But it turns out that government is essential for a lot of things that make civilization stable and safe, and disaster response is one of the things we used to have but was effectively dismantled by Trump. And he seems to have no desire to leap into the fray and lead by organizing a national testing initiative, say by using the Defense Production Act to marshal and fund the resources to compel labs to speed up effective tests that give quick results and mass produce them. We will need tens of millions of tests EVERY WEEK if we want to emerge from this shutdown any time soon–but Trump seems to have calculated that if he shoves this responsibility onto the states it will somehow reflect better on him. He’s truly delusional. Trump is now going to cement his place in history as the passive president who did nothing while the pandemic spread. Rather than lead, he sat on the sidelines and whined. Lacking any moral imperative and devoid of strategic imagination, Trump threw up his arms and passed the buck to the states in a stance antithetical to the American spirit that brought us the WPA, the Manhattan Project and the moon landing. We’re witnessing a catastrophic failure of leadership that will cost untold lives.
On the subject of destroying government from within, Trump has recently made the United States Postal Service a target for destruction. Like many Republicans, Trump hates any business that isn’t private, and has joined the longstanding GOP effort to get rid of the Postal Service despite the fact that it’s authorized in the Constitution. The USPS has been running a tight budget ever since Republicans in Congress were able to force it to prefund an enormous amount of its pension liability up-front every year–a burden its competitors don’t face. And now, with commerce down and people staying home, revenue is down 30% and USPS will need immediate government help to survive. Trump has thus far rejected this notion, so it’s up to activists to press our legislators to demand the USPS receive help. Otherwise, many of our rural residents would pay far more for postal service, and efforts like “vote-by-mail” would be impossible. And 600,000 postal workers would be out of a job. There would be no more mail. Only an expensive UPS or FedEx delivery option.
Please call Rep Delgado, Senator Gillibrand and Senator Schumer and let them know that we won’t allow the GOP to destroy an important American institution.
Keep resisting Trump and keep working to “vote his ass out of office.”