Team Trump’s COVID-19 Conundrum
Nations are learning that spreading disease is an inescapable consequence of globalization, and that outsourcing to China isn’t really cheaper.
The entire world is struggling with a virus that could have been contained by a more-forthcoming, less-treacherous Communist Chinese government that, first, concealed its existence, then, its virulence, and, finally, exported it.
Early public health “experts’” unreliable worst-case assumptions shut down entire nations, including America, by wildly overstating COVID-19’s mortality rate.
Doomsday predictions of two-plus million American deaths dropped as clinical understanding improved and more data became available. Newer estimates approximated the (then-non-newsworthy) 61,000 who died from seasonal flu in 2017-2018. The currently-estimated 60,000 COVID-19 deaths fall within a range. They could drop, too.
Some argued (correctly, perhaps) that Covid-19 is more virulent than seasonal strains, that deaths would be much higher sans governmental mitigation/treatment initiatives and public observance of prophylactic recommendations, so panic and official overreach became commonplace.
In America’s federal republic, states are constitutionally-empowered to consider/balance variables – infections, treatments, risks, enforcement costs – and then exercise discretionary control over implementing Team-Trump’s epidemiology/immunology experts’ national COVID-19 guidance.
But some authoritarian-minded governors, including Pennsylvania’s, overreacted, assumed non-enumerated powers, and effectively leveraged perceived emergencies into gubernatorial dictatorships.
The costs in socially- and economically-devastating business closures, lost jobs and tax revenues are already considerable. Governments are acquiring substantial additional debt to deal with an economic crisis created, in part, by overstated COVID-19 mortality models. The “cure” has become worse than the disease.
Now, President Donald Trump faces a conundrum created by today’s reflexively-hostile media/political environment.
Open expressions of personal/political animosities witnessed by viewers during televised White House COVID-19 briefings exposed as mere conceits many media figures’ claims to “professional journalism.”
COVID-19 mortalities were overstated, but, to avoid panic, if he/his administration had done nothing, media would simply call President Trump “lucky” while blaming him for every death suffered. Conversely, difficult decisions/guidance based on flawed, overstated models and headlines may only net the president accusations of unnecessarily panicking and “wrecking the economy.” Body counts will still lead. Politically-motivated opponents will never credit Mr. Trump and his team for doing enough – or any – of the right things.
Consider: The first four-plus months of confirmed COVID-19 deaths worldwide totaled only 0.2 percent of just one month’s normal global deaths. In the same period, American deaths from all causes tracked normal seasonal monthly averages.
COVID-19 is serious, but it’s not Black Plague-serious.
Shutdowns place otherwise-healthy people’s lives in peril, too, so economic humanitarianism must guide governments’ open/shutdown calculus as much as COVID-19 fatalities.
Instead of playing “gotcha,” blaming a president they despise, while excusing a clearly-criminal Chinese regime, instead of turning prudence into panic and keeping the nation shuttered, a genuinely-loyal opposition would stop spinning, engage responsibly, set aside political interests, suspend activism and objectively, accurately report the conditions under which Team Trump has encouraged reopening, but, more importantly, governors should reopen America.
Americans want – need – to work. The pandemic will pass. Supply chains, commodity and securities markets will rebound. Growth – and lives – will resume.