From TPM Reader ANON …
Your brief write-up is true as far as it goes, but doesn’t even scratch the surface of what a long-term catastrophe this will be for the Justice Department. I’ve been around federal law enforcement for virtually all of my career — as a federal prosecutor, defense lawyer, official at top levels of Main Justice, and judge — and I don’t think the Department has ever suffered a greater self-inflicted wound.
This week President Trump had a new message: he’s bored with the COVID19 epidemic. Or perhaps putting it a bit differently: it stopped being fun. He had already ramped back his daily coronavirus briefings which, for all the ‘ratings’ he crowed about, his aides decided were cratering his poll numbers. He first announced that he would disband the White House coronavirus task force before later saying he might continue it indefinitely because he found it was popular and “appreciated by the public.” He began telling friends and associates he doubted the the COVID19 death toll numbers – claiming they may be inflated to damage his political prospects or pad hospital earnings. He suggested that the price of federal aid to COVID-ravaged states would be a treasure trove of rightwing goodies: full compliance with ICE, defunding Social Security and Medicare and sharp reductions in taxation on investment income.
Putting these different messages together one aim seemed clear: after denying the existence of the epidemic, then fully immersing himself in its messaging and optics President Trump decided to disclaim ownership of it entirely. It’s really something happening in blue states, the fault of governors who didn’t prepare, states that were long fiscally mismanaged and economies shattered by refusing to reopen as quickly as he demanded. More than anything it’s just old news and not his problem. It’s happening somewhere else and, he hopes, not to ‘his’ people.
From TPM Reader MM …
My story is like many others — not dramatic in itself but important to me. In February 2019 I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Treatment included surgery, chemotherapy, radiation therapy, physical therapy, and follow-up surgery. I lost count of the medical appointments in 2019, but it was somewhere north of 70. Needless to say, last year didn’t include much fun.
From TPM Reader IS …
Like the professor who first was so wrapped up in his move to France that the reality of the whole situation didn’t hit him right away, our family was so wrapped up with some big changes that initially had no connection at all to COVID 19 that we too didn’t connect it with what would happen just a few weeks later. We are the parents of a 37 year old daughter who has Stage 4 breast cancer.
From the beginning of the COVID19 epidemic in the United States the epidemic has been dominated by an outbreak in the New York City metropolitan area. That outbreak is distinct from the progression of the disease in the rest of the country. It has its own intensity, timeline, arc. The New York City metro is an integrated economic, transportation and population reality – and thus a distinct epidemiological reality – even though it is spread over three different states. So to understand the NYC metro outbreak and the progression in the rest of the country it is helpful to separate them out visually.
Here are the latest numbers as of yesterday evening, plotted out for the number of new cases per day as well as the new fatalities reported each day.
I am making my way through your COVID19 turning point emails. And really … they are so good. I struggle to know which to absorb myself and which to share in posts. I can’t post them all and many, in the nature of things, are similar. But each captures some unique angle on the story or human experience of it. There are entirely unexpected scenarios which aren’t turning points so much as collisions with life, like the – one imagines – quite awkward necessity of broaching with your fiance the possibility of postponing your wedding. That’s the experience TPM Reader JL shares.
TPM Reader KM tells us in the subject line of her email that she writes from Detroit …
My own experience of the pandemic is of something that was very distant and abstract up till the moment I was in the thick of it. So my turning point is more like a breaking point: the experience that split my life into a Before and a Now.
TPM Reader WC (not his real initials) is an emergency room doctor on the West Coast. His turning point is different from many of our who haven’t been on the front lines of the epidemic.
Like many of you listeners, I too saw the closure of schools and the cancellation of the NCAA championship/NBA season as big turning points. The other turning point for me was the day I walked into our ER at a large trauma center and it was totally empty, which is unheard of.
One of the most depressing and least surprising developments in the last 36 hours is that the White House is apparently relying on a “cubic model” of the COVID19 epidemic prepared by White House economist Kevin Hassett to craft its crisis response. I have not seen any statisticians or epidemiologists who know precisely what “cubic” refers to the in this context – though there are some promising speculations based on simply plugging in one of the default trend lines (third degree polynomial) in Microsoft Excel. The more relevant point is that, according to The Washington Post, the model predicts the number of people dying of COVID19 in the US will fall to close to zero by May 15th – a scenario that seems all but impossible.
Here I can’t help but note a basic point. Hassett is not a health care economist, let alone someone at the crossroads of behavioral economics and epidemiologists. Indeed, his record as an economist is rather notorious.