For months and months, Trump denigrated mask-wearing. His followers mocked and sneered at those who took the single easiest and most effective step to try to contain the virus. On Wednesday, his thickheaded lackey, Gov. Brian Kemp (R) of Georgia, banned localities from instituting their own mask mandates, despite a surge of cases in his state (on Wednesday, more than 3,800 new cases were reported in Georgia, the result of prematurely reopening to satisfy the Trumpian cult). Kemp’s order landed despite mask-wearing pleas from CDC Director Robert Redfield, who told us that the virus would be stopped in its tracks in a matter of weeks if we did so.
Trump also made the situation more chaotic for states by ignoring testing. A new book from Maryland Gov. Larry Hogan (R) details, according to The Post’s reporting, the president’s disastrous stance on testing: "We expected something more than constant heckling from the man who was supposed to be our leader. Trump soon disabused us of that expectation. On April 6, he declared that testing wasn’t Washington’s responsibility after all.” Even Republican Gov. Ron DeSantis of Florida is complaining about the slow turnaround on tests.
And let’s not forget when the president took his ball and went home — or rather, to Jacksonville, Fla. — when clear-eyed North Carolina Gov. Roy Cooper (D) told him his convention would need to follow CDC guidelines. Florida, it turns out, is in much worse shape these days than North Carolina. On Wednesday, Florida officials reported 10,181 new cases, 453 new hospitalizations and a positive testing rate of 13.6 percent. About 30 percent of children tested in Florida have tested positive for the coronavirus. (That has not deterred DeSantis from ordering schools to reopen next month.)
The convention is now undergoing a makeover. (I wonder how much donor money was wasted shifting from North Carolina to Florida, only to have to adopt the kind of precautions North Carolina demanded.) The Post reported Thursday:
The Thursday letter from Republican National Committee Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel, obtained by The Washington Post, said admittance will be limited to only regular delegates for the first three days of the convention — or about 2,500 people. For the final day, when the president attends, delegates will get a guest, and alternate delegates can also attend — or 6,000 to 7,000 people.In the letter, McDaniel says the changes are to comply with Florida rules after the party moved most of the convention from North Carolina.
Both indoor and outdoor venues are to be used at the convention, despite the reported surge in cases following Trump’s indoor rally last month in Tulsa.
And what happens if the surge continues, forcing DeSantis finally to ban large gatherings? Or if DeSantis breaks down and institutes a statewide mask requirement? No negative thinking! Full-scale ahead!
What Trump cannot do, of course, is force people frightened for their own health to attend a mass gathering that does not follow CDC guidelines. Trump will be rightly blamed for any uptick in cases after the convention, but by then, Trump’s chances for reelection may have already evaporated.
Trump has reacted to the virus with disengagement, denial and delay, causing havoc coast to coast. He is incapable of doing his job, the result of which has been an upsurge in coronavirus cases and, inevitably, more deaths. Until we have a new president capable of acknowledging and addressing the virus head-on, do not expect the pandemic to subside.