Deliberately stoking the emotions of those who are frustrated by the #CoronavirusShutdown, President Trump is putting the lives of increasing numbers of Americans at risk as he tries to save his own political skin.
On Friday, Trump tweeted that three states -- Michigan, Virginia and Minnesota -- should be "liberated" as protestors in those states and elsewhere rebelled against restrictions that are consistent with the Trump administrations social-distancing recommendations.
Many Republican politicians and conservative organizations, including right-wing media, have supported the protests, calling for restarting the economy despite advice from health officials, including Dr. Anthony Fauci, that such premature actions could result in a resurgence of #COVID19 with more people dying.
While many of the protestors in Annapolis, MD, for example, carried Trump signs and wore #MAGA hats, there were people there who simply were desperate to get back to work so they could pay their bills and feed their families.
One woman told an NBC reporter in Annapolis that she simply had to get back to work to generate an income. The risk of death would be worth it because if she ends up homeless, she might as well be dead, she said. "So what's the difference?"
Yes, people are desperate. They are hurting from this shutdown. The lines at food banks seem endless. Unemployment is skyrocketing. People cooped up in their homes and apartments are going nuts. And there seems to be no end in sight.
But Trump stirring the pot by supporting -- calling for -- irresponsible actions that could kill people is the ultimate in cynical political gamesmanship and another demonstration of his own determination to assure his reelection, regardless of the cost.
As this Washington Post article reports, some governors are beginning to relax stay-at-home restrictions. They include Texas, Vermont, Minnesota and Montana. In South Carolina, Republican Gov. Henry McMaster has lifted an order that closed public boat ramps and boating on the Intercoastal Waterway and state rivers. Most likely, the state's beaches will be open soon, at least to locals.
The Testing Fiasco
A big roadblock to further opening up the economy has been the lack of sufficient testing capability so people who do not test positive can return to work. Trump said more than a million test kits are being made available to the states and it's up to the governors to use them effectively.
Meanwhile, Sen. Augus King (I-ME) said the government's failure to develop a national testing regimen for the virus was a "dereliction of duty", saying "I have never been so mad about a phone call in my life." He was referring to a call Friday afternoon between Democratic senators and Vice President Pence regarding test kit availability.
The effort to provide reliable test capability has been rife with delays and missteps, and today The Washington Post reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's failure to quickly produce a test kit for detecting coronavirus was triggered by a scientific breakdown at the CDC’s central laboratory complex in Atlanta.
According to scientists with knowledge of the situation, the CDC facilities that assembled the kits violated sound manufacturing practices, resulting in contamination of one of the three test components used in the highly sensitive detection process.
That's just another revelation in the sorry record of the federal government to provide usable test kits in a timely manner and to make them widely available.
So, Trump can brag that he deserves a "10" for his inept actions and try to shift blame wherever he can, but the fact remains that millions of Americans are out of work and many thousands have already died because of the #CoronavirusPandemic that could have been more effectively contained had he not originally denied the seriousness of the looming pandemic.
It's no wonder people are scared. It's no wonder they are frustrated. It's no wonder they worry about what the future will hold. But for Trump to further stoke those fears for his own political advantage is the act of a mean, cruel man whose only concern is saving his own skin.
(Editor's note: An earlier version of this article indicated that the photo above was from a Michigan rally protesting the shutdown. According to the fact-checking site, Snopes, it actually was from a March rally in Boise, ID. Our thanks to the reader who pointed this out to us.)