The Mess We’re In 

I really hate seeing friends arguing on social media whether Americans are suffering from a mismanaged pandemic, a media run amok, or a massive conspiracy to destroy our civil rights.

I think we’re suffering from a massive campaign to divide and depress us. Nations who oppose our power must be loving this.

But staying out of the fray is no real option. We need a narrative to understand what is happening.

I stand with the mismanaged pandemic faction.

 I suspect those willing to sacrifice others’ lives for their civil rights would be fighting another bogeyman if this pandemic hadn’t come along.

And I gladly admit it’s possible COVID-19 won’t live up to predictions that the deaths will total somewhere between the number our military suffered in World War II and the total population of Idaho. We’re working at keeping that number down.

But last week the incompetence of our administration was on parade.

President Trump has insisted that leadership in this crisis remain with the states. Instead of having one entity–with the powers granted under the Defense Production Act–negotiating with manufacturers, we have 50 states competing with one another and dozens of other countries.

 A study by ProPublica found that the cost of basic medical supplies has increased “up to 15 times”–that’s 1500%.

A reporter for CBS News got the admiral in charge to admit that the medical supplies other countries are sending us are not being distributed by FEMA, but being sold by corporations.

And there’s every chance these are the same supplies the U.S. shipped to these countries in February. China alone got 17.8 million tons then.

And a company that received $13.8 million of taxpayer money to develop a small ventilator refused to sell any here because it’s getting better prices overseas.

The headlines, however, went to Jared Kushner’s assertion that the government’s stockpile of medical supplies was not meant for the states. Do the Feds have a secret stash of U.S. citizens elsewhere?

Last week 873 Americans died of COVID-19. Our current total, 9,325, is only ¾ of the 12,469 deaths from the 2009 swine flu. Worldwide deaths are 68,150; swine flu estimates range from 151,700 to 575,400

There were three worldwide epidemics between 2009 and 2019: MERS, 2012; Ebola, 2013; and Zika, 2016. Together, they killed fewer than 12,500 people, including only one in the U.S.

Medical and government people around the world had learned from the swine flu. The U.S. joined other countries in fighting diseases in the country where they originated to prevent spread. A global health security team was added to the National Security Administration.  PREDICT was started to speed up and organize the hunt for diseases that spread from animals to humans. And a 2016 handbook detailed necessary procedures.

In spite of the four epidemics in the decade before he took office, President Trump dismantled these preparations.

He cut overseas staff of the Centers for Disease Control; the staff in China went from 47 people to 14. The global security team was dissolved in 2018  PREDICT was disbanded in Oct. 2019–just four months before COVID-19. And the handbook was meaningless without personnel.

And,11 days after the World Health Organization declared a health emergency, Trump released a budget cutting the Center for Disease Control’s budget by 16%.

The President is giving himself A+ grades, but the editorial board of the Boston Globe got it right. “The president has blood on his hands.”