Trump Killed a National Mask Program and We Buried 135,000 More Americans

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6 mins read

Masks. By now, you probably have a full wardrobe of them in different styles and shapes. But back in the early days of the pandemic, the news coming from our top health officials was, well, mixed. First we were told that wearing masks wasn’t necessary and that we should focus on handwashing and no face touching. Got it. Then somewhere during the confused and chaotic early weeks that was changed to “Wear a mask! I wear a mask to protect you and you wear a mask to protect me.” Uh, OK, got that. Even the Surgeon General had a video on how to make your own mask with scrap material and rubber bands.

During this April timeframe, however, the United States Postal Service was working with the White House Coronavirus Task Force and the Department of Health and Human Services on a 650-million mask distribution program. Simply put, every American household would receive 5 free masks. This information was made public from documents obtained by the watchdog group American Oversight.

Ready to Hit “Send”

Within the nearly 10,000 pages of documents, journalists discovered that the USPS had gone so far as to draft a press release ready for the send button. “Masks are in the mail!” And then the White House killed it.

As in scrubbed, nixed and deep-sixed. 

The reason? “Households receiving masks might create concern or panic,” an administrative official told The Washington Post. So what happened to all those masks? The Department of Health and Human Services decided to distribute those 650 million reusable cotton masks elsewhere, most notably to healthcare workers and schools. That’s all fine and good; we absolutely need to protect our frontline workers…but. And it’s a big but because thousands of lives could have been saved had the masks first gone to American households. 

Jaw-dropping Data

Fast forward to September 18, when CNN’s Dr. Sanjay Gupta came out with the following jaw-dropping data: he stated that “80 to 90 percent” of the nearly 200,000 coronavirus deaths could have been prevented. Working the math, that comes out to approximately 135,000 deaths since April alone.

And according to a health expert on NBC News, getting masks into the hands of every American via the mail would have sent a strong message and demonstrated the vital importance of mask-wearing as a critical virus-fighting weapon. But it would have done much more than that — it would have been a critical first step Trump could and should have taken to create a national sense of “we’re all in this together to fight COVID-19.” As we know all too well, he did just the opposite.

Beyond Rage

In Bob Woodward’s book Rage, Trump is on tape in March stating clearly that he knew the virus was both lethal and airborne. But Trump said, “I wanted to always play it down. I still like playing it down because I don’t want to create a panic.” In the following months, day after day, Trump continued to lie to the American public about COVID-19’s deadly danger, tout unproven and dangerous drugs and treatments, and refuse to wear a mask. He even went so far as mocking  those who did wear masks. Trump continued to hold indoor rallies and coerced states to open up their schools and businesses. To no one’s surprise, huge virus spikes resulted in thousands of deaths. 

Then in August, Woodward recorded Trump stating that “nothing more could have been done” to contain the virus. This dovetails into his recent statements about what he calls the ”herd mentality” strategy. The correct term, Mr. President, is ”herd immunity” and it refers to doing nothing to prevent the COVID-19 spread. And it’s a terrible idea that has met with disastrous results elsewhere. Trump’s latest strategy to combat COVID-19 is to allow as many Americans as possible to become infected, thus building up national immunity. But working the math on this model with a 65 percent infected population and 1 percent fatality rate would translate into approximately 2.15 million dead Americans. That’s a best-case scenario. In some place the fatality rate is in the 2 to 3 percent range. 

Then the math becomes unfathomable — over 4 million dead?

National COVID-19 Strategies? Hmmm…

To date, everyone has said that Trump never had and still does not have a national plan to fight COVID-19. It could be argued that he had two, one he killed that could have saved thousands of lives, and the other that is killing us instead.  

Photo credit: “covid-19” by Prachatai is licensed under CC BY-NC-ND 2.0


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