"It is scary to go to work,” White House economic adviser Kevin Hassett said over the weekend, even when the White House has robust tracking, tracing and mask-wearing protocols in place that most Americans do not enjoy.
And, worse, Trump’s personal vanity and political efforts to project a return to business as usual mean he will not extend the same protection (wearing a mask) that he demands of co-workers. The Post reports: “Most White House officials will be asked to wear masks or face coverings in public spaces on complex grounds, a move to prevent the novel coronavirus from spreading further inside the presidential compound . . . .The request does not apply to offices, however, and President Trump is still unlikely to wear a mask or face covering, aides say.” In other words: Trump gets protection from others but will not protect them in return for utterly selfish reasons. No single action better captures Trump’s narcissism.
Trump continues to exaggerate our success in expanding testing, claiming on Monday to have “prevailed.” This is categorically false, as Democrats and fact-checkers were quick to point out. “The United States has performed about 6 million tests in the past few months but has tested a significantly smaller percentage of the population than many other countries," The Post reported.
When Trump previously raised the false claim of victory in testing, my colleague Glenn Kessler wrote:
As of the end of April 28, the United States has conducted 5.9 million tests, according to one metric. (The crowdsourced Covid Tracking Project reports almost 5.8 million tests but it does not have international comparisons.) The next five countries — Russia, Germany, Italy, Spain and United Arab Emirates — had conducted 10 million tests as of that date. The total for all non-U. S. countries is about 25 million. So Trump’s bravado is ridiculously wrong.As we have repeatedly noted, what matters is the number of tests per million people. The United States, at about 17,855 per million, was the lowest of those five countries — Russia tested at a rate of 21,511, Germany at 24,748, Italy at 30,547, Spain at 28,799 and the UAE at 106,904.
Former vice president Joe Biden pounced Monday via an op-ed in The Post over Trump’s long-standing claim that testing is not necessary to reopen the economy. “It’s been more than two months since Trump claimed that ‘anybody that wants a test can get a test,' ” Biden wrote. “It was a baldfaced lie when he said it, and it still isn’t remotely true.”
Moreover, testing without a comprehensive tracing program is of limited value. Just ask the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, which warns on its website: “Identifying contacts and ensuring they do not interact with others is critical to protect communities from further spread.” The CDC explains, “If communities are unable to effectively isolate patients and ensure contacts can separate themselves from others, rapid community spread of COVID-19 is likely to increase to the point that strict mitigation strategies will again be needed to contain the virus.” There is no army of tracers around the country, although the White House takes care to trace contacts of those who test positive.
We know testing is really important (because Trump claims victory and, even more telling, demands testing in his workplace), and we know that tracing is a critical part of containing the virus (since Trump demands that the White House trace cases). We know how important masks are to protect others (because Trump demands that others wear them). Amid Trump’s lies, exaggerations and hypocritical rules, then, we still can discern what really matters — and how badly this president is falling short. Indeed, in his stunning lack of concern that others enjoy the same protections he wants for himself, we see that it is not so much that Trump doesn’t believe in science, but that he is determined to ignore science when it serves his personal interests.
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