Its surprising and its not surprising when our president manages to make strange times even stranger. I’m no fan… primarily because he makes everything about himself. This crisis has been no different. He was trying to tell the American public that there was not going to be a crisis, that there was one case and it was “totally under control” since January. The administration did very little for the entire month of February, but when pressed on that fact, points to their ban of travelers from China in late January as “decisive action”. That ban, by the way, had loopholes large enough to still admit 40,000 people during a four week period.
Nothing really sums things up much better than his press conference last Friday. It was bad enough that they did not have a press conference over the weekend as they have been doing. He spewed enough lies and conjecture to send the medical community reeling. Earlier in the press conference, a medical professional, when talking about how long the virus can live outside of the body on surfaces, said that sunlight, UV light, and disinfectants were effective at killing the virus on surfaces. This gave Trump a brilliant idea, and he riffed. Here’s a direct, rambling quote:
THE PRESIDENT: “Thank you very much. So I asked Bill a question that probably some of you are thinking of, if you’re totally into that world, which I find to be very interesting. So, supposing we hit the body with a tremendous — whether it’s ultraviolet or just very powerful light — and I think you said that that hasn’t been checked, but you’re going to test it. And then I said, supposing you brought the light inside the body, which you can do either through the skin or in some other way, and I think you said you’re going to test that too. It sounds interesting.” ACTING UNDER SECRETARY BRYAN: “We’ll get to the right folks who could.” THE PRESIDENT: Right. And then I see the disinfectant, where it knocks it out in a minute. One minute. And is there a way we can do something like that, by injection inside or almost a cleaning. Because you see it gets in the lungs and it does a tremendous number on the lungs. So it would be interesting to check that. So, that, you’re going to have to use medical doctors with. But it sounds — it sounds interesting to me. So we’ll see. But the whole concept of the light, the way it kills it in one minute, that’s — that’s pretty powerful.” Pointing to his head “I’m not a doctor. But I’m, like, a person that has a good you-know-what.” Snopes.com
There are so many things wrong with this off the cuff rambling:
- How do you get light under the skin? That might be possible, as the skin is relatively thin. But how would light penetrate into the lungs where this virus does its best work?
- Injecting disinfectant is poisonous. You’ll get rid of the virus, maybe, but you’ll also be dead
- His good “you-know-what” is smart enough to know that he is not a doctor, but not smart enough to know that the ideas he is spewing are not thought out at all, not tested, and certainly, when you think with a little bit of effort, could be very dangerous to anyone who tries them
- Because he is the president, people listen as if he knows what he is talking about. The statement above prompted the Lysol company to issue a statement about their products saying “under no circumstance should our disinfectant products be administered into the human body”. They actually had to say it. Some states reported that their emergency management hotline got calls from people wondering if this advice was something they should consider
The worst part, beyond the bunk science, beyond the idea that the president can use this nationally-televised stage to just riff and let the “experts” that he supposedly respects clean up the mess… worse than the way in which this makes it all about him, that he is the outside-the-box smart guy with the big you-know-what who has ideas that no one has the courage to have thought of… the idea that he is the one who can save all of us… the worst thing is the way he bullies the doctors around him at the podium. As in “Hey, I came up with this idea based on things you just said, you’re going to look into that now, right?” Hint, hint, as in, “I’m the president and its a great idea and you better look into it. And by the way, if it kills people, like, then it’s not my fault and it was not my idea but if it works I am a genius and I better get all the credit.”
And this is just sickening. When pressed by a reporter on the comments in the White House, Trump responded:
“I was asking a question sarcastically to reporters just like you, just to see what would happen. I was asking a sarcastic and a very sarcastic question to the reporters in the room about disinfectant on the inside. But it does kill it and it would kill it on the hands, and it would make things much better.”
He has that much contempt for the press that he would mess with the entire country just for fun? During a national emergency? Or he has enough contempt for everyone in the country that he would take no responsibility for his words and actions? That he thinks we would believe first that he is an asshole before we believe that he is just a dumb asshole?
This whole things is somehow worse than the hydroxychloroquine incident, which killed some people and put the lives of people who depend on the drug in danger.
Its so sad. He needs to get out of the spotlight and let the medical experts do their job. But if there is a spotlight, even if people’s lives hang in the balance, he is going to try to get himself into it.
Meanwhile, this new normal has settled in. People walk around with masks on more often then not. Stores require them. Public gatherings like church may never look the same again. Any restaurant that is still open is take out or delivery only. Liquor stores offer order ahead and curbside pickup. Food delivery like Peapod has a long, long waiting list that puts people that have always used the service, like the blind, at a disadvantage. Cases continue to rise, testing is being done, and states are slowly thinking about how to restart their economies.
In our house, Vivian has settled into school from home. It still stresses her out but it feels more normal now. There will not be school for the rest of he 3rd grade year but we are very hopeful for the fall. Summer camps are cancelled. Girl Scouts meet over Zoom.
For Coco, who barely started to make friends, her sister is her constant companion. The most difficult part of the day is when Viv needs to be on the laptop for school and Coco needs to stay away. East Side Nursery School is sending videos home with activities and books but it occupies a small part of the day.
Beth is doing Zoom calls with Out Loud theatre folks and did a Facebook Livestream Zoom call version of the Match Game with Aaron Blanck and Epic Theatre over the weekend where she improvised her Shelley Duval from October’s Trick or Trequel. It was fun for her to do and it might be getting more audience online than the live performance would have gotten. People are trying new things and seeing what sticks.
For me, work is work. Not much is different. My concentration has come back a little bit but my sleeping pattern is awful. Maybe five hours a night and a lot of time sitting in front of my laptop. More than if I was at work, because there, I’d need to walk more than 10 feet to the bathroom or kitchen.
My statistic round up:
- Over 26.5 million Americans have filed for unemployment — an unemployment rate of 20%. At the highest of levels of unemployment following the 2008 financial crisis, there were 15.3 million jobless Americans
- 3.13M cases globally with 218k deaths and 938k recoveries (mortality rate of 6.96%)
- 1.04M cases in the U.S. with 58,964 deaths and 118k recoveries (mortality rate of 5.67%)
- 7,708 confirmed cases in RI with 233 deaths (mortality rate of 3.02%)