COVID-19 is still infecting and killing Americans. It’s spreading. But quarantine measures seem to be flattening the curve – or at least they will if we continue them. Now, as I’m sure you’ve heard, Trump is itching to get everybody back to normal. Why? Because he wants the economy and confidence to bounce back. Will it work? Not a chance.
The simple fact is that if Trump dismisses quarantine orders and tells people to return to normal, or even something less than normal but still less stringent than quarantine, we will no longer flatten the curve. COVID is still spreading — it’s just that with quarantine measures in place, it’s not spreading as quickly. That’s what flattening the curve means. Trump has taken a dangerously and aggressively science-illiterate stance here: he’s declared victory over the virus, he’s caving to political pressures from Republicans instead of listening to experts, and he’s cut funding to the World Health Organization at a time when it needs funding very urgently. Oh yeah, and that funding cut is probably illegal because he made the decision without Congressional approval (https://www.msnbc.com/the-last-word/watch/neal-katyal-trump-cutting-who-funding-shows-blatant-illegality-82104901648).
Just one week ago, WHO warned that the virus could have a resurgence if quarantine orders are prematurely lifted. Just a few days ago is when Trump decided to cut funding to WHO. This to me echoes his responses to the states — give funding to those who ingratiate him, ignore those that don’t. His vindictive nature reflects his fragile ego, and it’s clearer now more than ever that, to him, everything he sees, touches, and hears needs to be praiseful to him in some way. This dangerous selfishness is leading us down a very risky path during the pandemic.
And of course, the Trump base is making a field day out of this. After a mass shooting, you always hear Republicans say something along the lines of “We can’t politicize tragedy,” and now we’re hearing them say “Politicize this tragedy.” Around the country, Trump supporters are defying quarantine orders to make bizarre and misunderstood overtures to fundamental constitutional rights. Conservative pundits have a new rallying cry: “Death before depression”. These sentiments will keep eating away at the polity and more people will feel compelled to defy quarantine, thus ensuring a greater pandemic impact in the US.
And of course, amid all this, Trump also decided to let the states decide when to reopen. Taking a backseat leadership style is a lot easier than actually leading, right? If there’s an appreciable lack of coordination or continuity among the states as to how they plan reopening, then a second wave seems virtually guaranteed. Take this to the ballot box in November.