Updated: Jun 17
Desperate to convince the American people that everything is OK and the economy will be booming just in time for the November election, the Trump administration is spinning two big lies with potentially dangerous consequences.
The first big lie is that the reason the number of confirmed coronavirus cases is increasing in many areas of the country is that testing has substantially increased, so its logical that more cases would be uncovered.
Problem is the numbers say that's not just misleading, it's wrong. Since the end of May, more than 11,000 Americans have died of covid-19 and cases have surged in six states, Kentucky, Missouri, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota and Wyoming, while the number of tests in those states has declined, according to the COVID Tracking Project and the New York Times. And, in 14 other states, the rate of new cases is climbing faster than the increase in tests.
Moreover, The Washington Post reports that in 10 states, the seven-day average of the rate of positive tests has increased by more than 2 percent since the end of May. In 11 other states, the seven-day average for the number of new deaths is up at least 5 percent since then.
So, the administration -- Trump, Pence and their underlings -- is spinning a load of BS, trying to paint a positive picture so Americans will feel comfortable getting back to normal and voters will be in much better and less desperate moods come election day. Its Trump's only hope.
But, it's a load of BS that puts even more lives in danger. As this is written, the U.S. death toll now stands at 118,703. And, one model cited by the White House now predicts 200,000 US deaths by October 1, with early reopenings encouraged by Trump and widespread disregard for personal safety measures cited as important factors.
The Second Big Lie
The second big lie is that the American economy, which has been decimated by the coronavirus, is beginning to boom and that "the great American comeback has begun." That's what the Trump campaign claims in a new $10 million ad campaign.
Not so. Despite some improvement, the May jobs report from the feds reports 19.55 million fewer jobs than in February and the outlook for long-term improvement remains grim.
In a Monday call with the nation's governors, Vice President Mike Pence encouraged them to use the rise in testing to explain the increasing numbers of cases of covid-19, reported the New York Times.
“I would just encourage you all, as we talk about these things, to make sure and continue to explain to your citizens the magnitude of increase in testing,” Pence said on the call. “And that in most of the cases where we are seeing some marginal rise in number, that’s more a result of the extraordinary work you’re doing.”
Pence then added: “But also encourage people with the news that we are safely reopening the country. That, as we speak today, because people are going back to hospitals and elective surgery and getting ordinary care, hospitalization rates may be going up. But according to our most current information, hospitalizations for coronavirus are going down across the country.”
So, in effect, it's OK for people to let their guard down.
It's OK to do like Pence and Trump and not wear masks in public or practice social distancing.
Trump is planning rallies again with thousands of people jammed together in indoor arenas, so that means everything must be cool.
Alfred E. Newman strikes again, having been reborn in the image of Mike Pence. It's OK not to worry.
The dangers of letting our guard down and acting like Alfred E. Neuman are obvious. More people will die.
But what about the dangers of false economic claims? How is that harmful? It's Republican spin to avoid providing more help to the millions of Americans who are suffering from the crisis. As The Post says, "Half of this is ideological, undoubtedly, but the other half is surely a desire to feed the illusion that we're roaring back."
So unless Democrats are able to somehow push new economic assistance legislation through a Republican-controlled Senate, the Alfred E. Neuman view of today's world will prevail and those suffering from job losses and business closures will be left to fend for themselves.
More deaths. More economic pain. Those will be the consequences of The Two Big Lies.