The White House would really like to change the subject from that whole coronavirus pandemic thing, mmmkay? Donald Trump is itching to hold some big rallies, and it would be a lot easier if everyone would just pretend that COVID-19 is not still killing around 1,000 people every day, with hospitalizations surging in some states.
Parts of the White House losing interest in the coronavirus are positive—not having Trump in front of the cameras suggesting bleach injections is a very good thing. But to the degree that the loss of focus on the still-deadly pandemic means a diminished government response, it’s bad. To the degree that Team Trump is actively encouraging Americans to believe that everything is fixed and there’s no problem, it’s worse.
“We’ve made every decision correctly,” Trump said Friday morning. “We may have some embers or some ashes or we may have some flames coming, but we’ll put them out. We’ll stomp them out.”
The thing is, there’s a difference between embers and flames. Far from planning to stomp out the embers, Trump is planning to fan the flames with big campaign rallies and his ongoing encouragement to states to reopen regardless of whether their COVID-19 statistics make it safe to do so.
The White House task force only meets twice a week rather than daily now, which, again, is not a bad thing to the extent that it gets Donald Trump himself out of the process. But that’s not the only way the administration’s response has shifted, Politico reports. The task force is not sending as many updates to state health officials. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention briefing calls are similarly offering less top-down information to the states—and the CDC remains sidelined. Experts like Dr. Anthony Fauci aren’t doing as many media interviews, and they’re not being allowed to testify to Congress, either. The Department of Health and Human Services is taking over responsibilities from the Federal Emergency Management Agency—which, again, might not be a bad thing except that it’s happening as the Trump administration tries to play down the dangers of the pandemic.
Donald Trump has taken his victory lap. He “made every decision correctly.” The pandemic is “largely over.” So the serious response—as flawed as it was all along—is over, too.
The problem is that the danger has not passed.