On Sunday morning, October 25, White House Chief of Staff Mark Meadows appeared on the State of the Union and told Jake Tapper, “We’re not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.” These are, perhaps, some of the most honest words he — or any member of the Trump Administration — has ever uttered.
“We’re not going to control the pandemic.”
Meadows’ words should horrify every American, just as they did Joe Biden.
Meadows’ words reflect the ultimate defeat: the Trump Administration is not even trying to pretend to try to stop coronavirus anymore.
“We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations.”
Taken out of context, Meadows’ statement is not damaging. Yes, we need to get vaccines made and delivered just as soon as we safely can. We also need to increase the ability to heal COVID patients so they don’t suffer from lifelong complications, or worse yet, die.
But the Trump Administration has given the American people absolutely no reason to trust it on anything COVID related. (For more on this topic, read my colleague Mindy Schwartz’s excellent article.)
So let’s start with vaccines. Trump has been all over the place on them. As early as May 15 he claimed: “Another essential pillar of our strategy to keep America open is the development of effective treatments and vaccines as quickly as possible. Want to see if we can do that very quickly. We’re looking to — when I say ‘quickly,’ we’re looking to get it by the end of the year, if we can. Maybe before. We’re doing tremendously well.”
Trump has repeatedly promised the American people that a vaccine is coming “soon,” anywhere from Election Day through early 2021. In a September press briefing he said that “we expect to have enough vaccines for every American by April,” even though during that same period, his own officials were contradicting his statement and putting out a mid-2021 date. Throughout this crisis, Trump has just said whatever he thinks is politically expedient (or whatever flies out of his mouth).
And now, despite all these changes in the timeframe, we are expected to believe Meadows’ statement that Americans will get vaccines? No! Instead, translate his words more like: “We are going to put our efforts behind getting Americans to believe a vaccine is around the corner.”
Let’s move on to therapeutics. Yes, the good news is that several therapies have been developed since the early days of the pandemic. Doctors can reduce death from COVID by using dexamethasone and even simple techniques, like positioning patients on their stomach instead of their back, and they are learning more every day. But about 800 Americans are still dying every week from COVID.
After the Amy Coney Barrett superspreader event at the White House, scores of Republicans and administration officials got COVID. But no one died. Trump presented a serious case based on medical factors. He is 74, obese, and had to be hosptialized. But he is now apparently fine.
We don’t know why he recovered when younger people in better health have not, but perhaps it has to do with the drug cocktail Trump was given. Of the 3 non-OTC therapeutics Trump was widely reported to have taken — dexamethasone, remdesivir, Regeneron’s monoclonal antibody — only dexamethasone is easy to get and then only in a hospital. Remdesivir, a much newer drug, has only been authorized for emergencies and wasn’t even approved by the FDA until October 22 — so not super accessible. Regeneron is such a new treatment that it is still in clincal trials — Trump’s doctors had to request special permission from Regeneron and the FDA to use it.
Trump had access to the kind of treatment inaccessible to the vast majority of Americans. Who among us has sway to get special dispensation for Regeneron? Certainly not an average American, like TeQuilla Parker, the 39-year-old nurse from Baton Rouge, Louisiana, who recently died. If your name is not Chris Christie, you may be out of luck. And if the Republicans have their way and end Obamacare, many Americans may even lose the health insurance they need to go to a doctor and receive treatment at all.
Right now, as the country faces its third and most severe wave of COVID cases, hospitals are filling up, again. Hospitals around the country may start rationing health care by age, health and other factors. The president of the Utah Hospital Association gave the governor the criteria they would use to determine which patients get to remain in overcrowded intensive care units: “the young get priority over the old, since older patients are more likely to die.” Under the scenarios being considered in Utah, Trump and his pals might have actually been ejected from the ICU let alone denied special treatment. So ask yourself, Do you feel lucky? Will Trump and the Republicans let you be the person who gets the treatments that will save your life?
And a quick note about the last part of Meadows’ statement on “mitigations.” Later in the interview, he expands upon his meaning, which only adds further clarity to the understanding that the Trump Administration has no plan to help the country. Talking about the increase in cases, Meadows says, in addition to the aforementioned therapeutics and vaccines, we have to “take proper mitigation factors, in terms of social distancing and masks when we can.” These measures are exactly what Trump has been fighting against for months, so much so that this was a topic Chris Wallace raised at the first presidential debate. A recent study showed that at least 100,000 lives could be saved – and maybe as much as half a million — if Americans wore masks most of the time.
As the mouthpiece of the Trump Administration, Meadows made it abundantly clear through his misleading statement that Trump does not take coronavirus seriously or have any interest in strategies to fight it. Just yesterday, Biden excoriated one of Trump’s more ludicrous statements about COVID — that doctors had been inflating the number of sick patients to make more money. “What in the hell is the matter with this man?” he exclaimed.
Also abundantly clear is that we can’t trust Trump or the Republicans to keep us safe. On October 23, Dr. Anthony Fauci said, “Well, if people are not wearing masks, then maybe we should be mandating it.” This would be a huge step forward in controlling the coronavirus. But there’s one more important action Americans can take in the next week. We can elect a president who will not only impose a mask mandate but make it patriotic, altruistic, and downright cool to wear masks again.
Photo from @Mocraig13
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