Photo by Samuel Corum for the New York Times
In less than shocking news unless you've been locked down in your cave even more zealously than we've been, on the day the U.S. reported over 1,000 COVID-19 deaths for the first time since May - along with 63,000 new cases and the third-highest number of hospitalizations on record - the first comprehensive review of the country's coronavirus data reveals a disastrous "failure of national leadership" that's resulted in "a cacophony of confusing data” rendering it much harder to stop the virus' spread. The study by Resolve To Save Lives, part of the global health group Vital Strategies, was led by Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the CDC, who wrote that due to Trump's abject failures, "The US is flying blind in our effort to curb the spread.” He added the lack of standards and accountability "reflects the absence of national strategy, plan, leadership, communication or organization," with states haphazardly struggling to assemble "life-and-death information” on testing, contact tracing and new cases - basic data other countries with actual leaders have long collected. Given the unholy vacuum at the center of our country, says Frieden, "If the federal government won't do it, someone has to." That's just the to-be-expected bad news, not the OMFG-are-you-kidding bad news: As global coronavirus infections passed 14 million, marking the first surge of 1 million cases in under 100 hours, new CDC data suggests the actual number of cases in the U.S. could be 10 times higher than those reported. Based on the study of antibodies from blood samples taken from 10 regions of the country, the findings also show only a tiny fraction of Americans have become immune from the virus.
It was thus a wee bit mind-boggling to see Trump in his whiny, sweaty Fox interview still insisting he's "been right probably more than anybody else" and still blaming everyone else - Fauci, China, WHO: "They got a lot wrong" - and still lying, this time about mortality rates. Afterward, he brayed about his "good reviews" - "We are doing very well" - and, after four million cases, 144,000 deaths, and enough months of debunking masks to spark an anti-mask cottage industry, he posted a photo in a mask with the surreal, "Many people say that it is Patriotic to wear a face mask...There is nobody more Patriotic than me, your favorite President!" though, that night, he went mask-less to a fundraiser. On Tuesday, because the show must go on, his numbers look bad, everyone agrees he blew it, and nobody trusts him, he re-started his briefings on "the China virus" with no health experts in sight. This time, he tried to stay on message. Despite occasional slips - "significant spice in cases" - and back-tracking - maybe masks aren't so great - and hollow, bonkers, late-to-the-mass-negligent-homicide-party claims -"We are in the process of developing a strategy that's going to be very, very powerful" - he briefly touched down on Planet Earth to concede, "It will probably, unfortunately, get worse before it gets better." A few minutes later, he again desperately muttered, "The virus will disappear," because, yeah, probably, when we're all dead. The brief event ended on an especially deranged note after a reporter asked about the case of Epstein accomplice Ghislaine Maxwell, who knows where more than a few bodies are. "I just wish her well," said Trump, but it's not like he's sending her a message or anything. Meanwhile, the ads keep coming. All his best words, flying blind.