In a period of breathtaking propaganda, a president who has no medical expertise and has consistently downplayed the emergency bulldozed into the White House briefing room to grab one of the most the country’s senior health officials, Dr Robert Redfield. The head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention had told lawmakers it could be fall 2021 before there are enough vaccine stocks to allow normal life to resume. He also said the masks are working.
“I think he got the message maybe confused,” the president said of comments on the vaccine and added that Redfield “didn’t get the question” on the masks – although the doctor had been clearly examined and carefully worded.
The President’s undercutting of Redfield came in a week in which he repeatedly rejected the best advice from health officials, including organizing an indoor campaign rally. He also challenged the science of global warming as historic fires rage across Western states. But he isn’t the only senior government official to complain about the pandemic-induced restrictions that are designed to protect people from a highly infectious pathogen. In an extraordinary statement Wednesday, Attorney General William Barr lashed out at state governors using executive powers to impose restrictions that keep businesses closed in a bid to save lives and slow the spread of the virus.
“You know, putting a nationwide lockdown, staying home, it’s like house arrest. Besides slavery, which was another kind of coercion, it’s the biggest intrusion on the civil liberties of the American history, ”Barr said in an organized appearance. by Hillsdale College, a private and conservative Michigan school.
Trump is trying to create a sense of a return to normalcy ahead of Election Day – one of the reasons he’s been pushing so hard for the return of college football Big Ten, a conference with teams from the Midwestern states reported Wednesday the start of his season at the end of October. Announcing a vaccine – whether or not clinical trials have been completed – appears to be a key part of the president’s strategy.
And his pressure on Redfield leaves no doubt that his short-term electoral considerations are far more important to him than a credible inoculation that Americans trust.
The president’s power play also left the CDC leader’s position untenable, even though his statements were essentially correct.
After a phone call from the president and a public rebuke from Trump, a CDC official told CNN that Redfield now realizes he misunderstood the vaccine questions.
His rise to power has shattered his credibility and means that any future statements he makes will be viewed through the prism of Trump’s intimidating meddling based on relentless efforts to undermine science.
Dr Jonathan Reiner, professor of medicine at George Washington University, said the president’s performance on Wednesday was “astounding”.
“What Dr Redfield said today made perfect sense. It was common sense. What he said was that it will take a long time to vaccinate the United States,” he said. Reiner told CNN’s Erin Burnett.
More broadly, Trump’s behavior has shown how a president who ignores details and never got down to Americans’ level about the virus was such a failure in alleviating the worst health crisis in 100 years.
By repeatedly talking about a vaccine as if it is already available and not undergoing rigorous clinical trials, Trump has also cast doubt on the scientific review process that will be required before its approval by regulators.
His comments are unlikely to build confidence in a vaccine that was already greeted with skepticism by many Americans in the polls. Lack of confidence in the program is the nightmare scenario since a vaccine is the best hope for ending the pandemic and reviving American life.
Two irreconcilable views
Wednesday’s chaos also reflected the increasingly irreconcilable realities facing Americans.
There is the real country, where it will take several months for all Americans to get vaccinated once it is approved and manufactured. This country lost 1,200 citizens on Tuesday alone, will soon mourn its 200,000th victim and has an increase in cases from a base far above that of other rich countries.
This country is ruled by a president who told journalist and author Bob Woodward in February that the coronavirus was “deadly” but retained the true scale of the American threat in a way that has likely claimed tens of thousands of lives. The other costs of this decision are astronomical. Some 30 million Americans have lost their jobs in a back-to-back economic crisis, millions of young people are still stranded in school and college on Zoom, and the travel industry has collapsed.
Then there’s Trumpland, built on a framework of lies and disinformation designed to make November voters dwell on its poor performance. This is a place where the masks recommended by people like Redfield don’t really work.
Where Trump’s assurances of mass immunizations are just weeks away for millions of people in a nation “around the corner” and where everyone is getting richer in stocks to make up for lost jobs in the economy. crisis. Dragging thousands of people into a presidential indoor campaign rally would, in this unreal scenario, not be dangerous and the return of Big Ten football would be another sign of normalcy restored by a “formidable” government effort that had saved millions of people. lives.
Redfield angered Trump during testimony in Congress in which he was optimistic that a vaccine would soon be approved and manufactured. But this should be prioritized for first responders and those most at risk first. When asked when there would be enough vaccines to get the general public back to normal, he had a long and somewhat appalling timeline.
“I think we’re probably looking at the third, the end of the second quarter, the third quarter of 2021,” he said.
This timetable is of no use to Trump as he has to face voters in less than seven weeks. So he wasted little time in publishing an alternate story.
“We think we can start in October,” Trump said.
“So as soon as it is announced, we can start. It will be from mid-October … We will all be ready,” he said, promising Americans a vaccine in “at most two months. .. “
The president added without evidence or credibility that Covid-19 infections would be “very low” by the time Americans vote on November 3 and warned that states fearing a resurgence remain closed just to hurt him politically.
The president, at an ABC News town hall on Tuesday evening, made a new effort to discredit the wearing of masks, which have been shown to block the spread of Covid-19 and are even more vital in the absence of a vaccine.
Redfield said during Wednesday’s hearing: “I could even go so far as to say that this face mask is safer to protect me from Covid than when I take a Covid vaccine because the immunogenicity can be 70%. And if I don’t get an immune response, the vaccine isn’t going to protect me. This face mask will. “
Trump later replied, “As far as the masks are concerned, I hope the vaccine will be much more beneficial than the masks.”
While he said Redfield may have “misunderstood” the question, the president’s comments suggest he has not been clear on the science or the effectiveness of vaccines and how masks work.
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