Heather Cox Richardson, in the October 25, 2020 Letters from an American, writes about how the Trump administration has conceded defeat - not that they were ever serious about controlling COVID–19.
While the administration is working to fire up Trump’s base, it is also working to downplay the coronavirus, even as infections continue to rip across the nation. Daily infection numbers are the highest they have ever been during this crisis, with 78,702 new cases reported on Saturday and more than 20 states at record levels of infection. We have had more than 8.5 million infections in the country and have lost almost 225,000 Americans in the official count to Covid–19. Wisconsin has opened a field hospital; Utah is so overwhelmed it is preparing to ration care.
We learned last night that at least five people on the staff of Vice President Mike Pence have tested positive for the coronavirus, including Pence’s chief of staff, Marc Short. Nonetheless, the vice president is not going to quarantine; he is going to continue to campaign. According to White House chief of staff Mark Meadows, Pence can travel because he is working and he is “essential personnel.” According to other officials, Meadows was hoping to keep the outbreak out of the news.
Today, Meadows told CNN’s Jake Tapper that the administration was “not going to control the pandemic.” Instead, “What we need to do is make sure that we have the proper mitigation factors, whether it’s therapies or vaccines or treatments to make sure that people don’t die from this.”
Other countries have managed to bring their numbers of infection and death downward, but the White House plan seems to be simply to let the disease take its course. South Korea, with 55 million people, got the disease at the same time we did. It has had fewer than 500 deaths. With our population of about six times theirs– 331 million— we have almost 225,000.
But Trump is trying to demonstrate that all is well by rejecting mask use, holding rallies, and telling people, “It is going away.” He has held nearly three dozen rallies since August, usually at airport hangars, appearing to revel in speaking before crowds. In an investigation, USA Today discovered that, in at least five counties, Covid–19 cases rose after Trump’s rallies. “We are coming around, we’re rounding the turn, we have the vaccines, we have everything,” Trump said in New Hampshire on Sunday. “Even without the vaccines, we’re rounding the turn. It’s going to be over.”
The staunchly conservative New Hampshire Union Leader, from Manchester, New Hampshire, isn’t buying it. Objecting to the president’s dramatic expansion of the national debt by more than “7 TRILLION dollars” (their capital letters), as well as his weaponizing of social media, the editors note that “We may be turning a corner with this virus, but the corner we turned is down a dark alley of record infections and deaths.”
The Union Leader is backing Joe Biden. “We have found Mr. Biden to be a caring, compassionate and professional public servant. He has repeatedly expressed his desire to be a president for all of America, and we take him at his word. Joe Biden may not be the president we want, but in 2020 he is the president we desperately need. He will be a president to bring people together and right the ship of state.”