The Post reports: “With cases, hospitalizations and deaths mounting in many areas, governors in Ohio, Indiana and Minnesota on Wednesday joined the growing momentum for mandating face coverings statewide.” More than 30 states have some type of mask requirement. Is there any doubt they should have been doing this months ago before things got out of hand?
Meanwhile, the nation remains stalled in one area where federal help is essential — setting up a national testing and tracing program. To his credit, Sen. Mitt Romney (R-Utah) has been a consistent and accurate critic of the abysmal federal performance. On Wednesday, he candidly told reporters the United States has not been a “great example”; while Germany has shown leadership and come out of the worst of the crisis, he observed, we are still struggling. He argued that we should have a fast, accessible nationwide testing program, but we do not.
As cases keep growing, our testing, which has never been adequate, is slipping further behind with a wait of seven days or more in many cases for test results. Trump is not telling the truth when he says the upsurge in cases is due to more testing. “About 21,000 cases were reported per day in early June, when the positive test rate was 4.8 percent. As testing expanded, the positive test rate should have fallen,” the New York Times reports. That has not happened. “The average number of tests conducted nationwide has grown by 80 percent since early June, to 780,000 per day. Daily case counts have grown by 215 percent in the same period.” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis (R), who was in a class by himself in defying even the White House advice, now sees “more than 11,000 new cases per day, on average, while only about 2,400 cases each day would be expected because of increased testing. California and Texas numbers are also far above what would be expected.”
This is a failure. Whatever “tone” Trump has taken, he has not taken responsibility for this calamity, nor has he moved to expand tests to match the surge in infections. The rate is falling or stabilizing in the states (mostly in the Northeast) where the pandemic initially hit hard. That’s because those states took strong action to shut down and then reopened in a gradual, data-driven process. They might be swamped again, however, by residents of other states who enter carrying the virus, just as travelers months ago brought the disease into New York airports and spread it unknowingly for weeks.
While the executive branch’s failure is unmistakable, the Republican-led Senate is still working through a package that would, among other things, fund testing. When historians look back on this time, the delinquency of the president and Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-Ky.) will stand out among the worst failures of governance in modern U.S. history.