He said it in an interview with Jonathan Swan, of Axios, who asked how Trump could argue that the Covid-19 pandemic was “under control” since “1,000 Americans are dying a day.” Trump responded, “They are dying, that’s true. And you have — it is what it is. But that doesn’t mean we aren’t doing everything we can. It’s under control as much as you can control it. This is a horrible plague that beset us.”
But not Trump. In a long career — in real estate, reality TV and the White House — Trump has reached often for exaggeration and falsehoods to convince people it is what it isn’t.
At another point in the Axios interview, more in character, he praised his administration for doing a “great job” on Covid.
The mystery of Dr. Birx
At key moments, Dr. Deborah Birx has been the face of the White House’s effort to fight the coronavirus. Widely respected for her years of work on HIV/AIDS, Birx has lately been the target of criticism from some medical experts and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. She even drew fire from President Trump, after she acknowledged the “extraordinarily widespread” nature of the pandemic in the US. A fellow expert on infectious disease, Dr. Kent Sepkowitz, wrote, “All of her work shows Birx to be a sophisticated physician-scientist with genuine interest in the health of vulnerable and underserved populations.”
But he argued that as response coordinator for the White House Coronavirus Task Force, Birx has made “a real hash out of the entire effort, with a series of poor decisions — changing hospital data reporting protocols for coronavirus patients to cut out the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and report directly to Health and Human Services, painting a rosy picture of the problem and of the President’s engagement and still developing no national plan for testing, tracking, opening schools and businesses.”
What’s killing us
One of the biggest Covid-related questions facing Americans right now is whether to send children back to school. Biologist Erin Bromage said his are going back but acknowledged that the decision is made easier by the fact they attend private school in an area where community transmission of the disease is low.
There’s one thing Joe Biden doesn’t lack in his search for a running mate: advice.
For more on the 2020 campaign:
Devastation in Beirut
As white smoke billowed out of a warehouse Tuesday at the port of Beirut, an enormous explosion, captured on video as a gigantic red flash, decimated the area, killing at least 158 people, wounding more than 5,000 and forcing half of the city’s population out of their homes. The blast was attributed to a huge cache of ammonium nitrate stored at the port.
“Perhaps the shared anger over this event can bring the Lebanese together to push back against the incompetent and the greedy, the functionaries, politicians, and outside players, who have hijacked their country and created conditions for the Lebanese people’s never-ending tragedy; admittedly a monumental task.”
Where is Congress?
Democrats and Republicans remained far apart last week on the outline of a new pandemic relief bill. The jobless rate in July, although modestly lower than in June, was 10.2% — a number slightly higher than the peak of the Great Recession. But there was no agreement in Congress on extending any portion of the $600 a week in extra aid for the unemployed. On Saturday, Trump signed executive actions that could provide additional aid and defer payroll taxes for some workers, but they face serious hurdles.
Among the hardest hit industries is restaurants, John Avlon noted: “Independent restaurant owners face an economic apocalypse.” The industry employs “11 million Americans, with an economic impact that is felt up and down the supply chain, from farmers to fishermen,” he wrote. Often barely eking out a profit pre-pandemic, restaurants faced closure at the beginning of the crisis, and now, in many cases, are trying to survive on takeout or outdoor dining. Restaurants are backing legislation to create a $120 billion federal grant program.
100 years later …
August marks the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which gave women the vote and will be celebrated on Women’s Equality Day, August 26.
Today it’s viewed widely as the long-delayed but almost inevitable political empowerment of more than half the population. So, it’s surprising to read, as Nicole Hemmer recounted, that more than a few of the activists opposing suffrage were women.
“The women who opposed women’s right to vote have often been left out of the story of suffrage,” Hemmer wrote. “Talk of women’s interests, like the interest of other marginalized groups, often trades in flat stereotypes, treating all members of the group as though they think, and vote, the same. But as the anti-suffragist women show, women have been shrewd political actors, understanding — and protecting — their sources of power in unexpected ways.”
Hemmer sees echoes of the anti-suffrage women in the activists, led by Phyllis Schlafly, who fought off the Equal Rights Amendment in the 1970s, a story told in the recent FX series, “Mrs. America.”
Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates
In a piece for CNN Opinion, Michelle Obama and Melinda Gates expressed concern about students like Fortunate Ayomirwoth, who lives in a suburb of Kampala, Uganda. Her school has been closed since the pandemic erupted, they wrote. While Fortunate does chores and cares for four younger siblings, she hopes “there will be enough food to eat. Since her mother lost her job, money has been tight — and for Fortunate, her window of opportunity feels like it, too, is getting tighter.”
“We know from past crises, like the 2014 Ebola outbreak, that adolescent girls in low and middle-income countries are particularly at risk of being overlooked and left behind,” noted Obama and Gates. “During a crisis like this one, adolescent girls face a heightened threat of physical and sexual violence, early and forced marriage, and unintended pregnancy on top of sustained economic hardship.”