The pandemic persists, despite Trump’s sidestepping
With less than two months to go until Election Day, the presidential contest increasingly reminds me of a 1950s game show; “Who Do You Trust?”
Or, as I feel compelled to add in a salute to my finicky-yet-beloved English teachers, “Whom Do You Trust?”
Nowadays we could recast the show with our current contestants, Republican President Donald Trump and his Democratic challenger, former Vice President Joe Biden.
Lately, that contest has turned into a matter of life and death over who can best handle the coronavirus pandemic, a clash that has produced another conflict between the president and members of his own administration over when a safe and reliable vaccine might be available.
At center stage, Trump has departed from the wisdom of Dr. Robert Redfield, his appointed head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Redfield testified before a Senate committee Wednesday that even if the vaccine is announced in November or December, as the president has speculated, it won’t be “fully available” until mid- or late 2021. For one thing, those who are most in need would have to be treated first.
He also offended Trump by saying face masks are “more guaranteed to protect me against COVID than when I take a COVID vaccine.”
No, no, no, insisted the president, who rarely wears a face mask, in a public rebuke of both statements. Redfield “made a mistake” Trump said, adding that he had called Redfield.
If so, I’m sure that was a riveting phone call. Yet Redfield’s projection about the timetable for vaccine approval and distribution echoed that of other officials, including Anthony Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, and Moncef Slaoui, chief scientist of the president’s controversially named Operation Warp Speed.
But, with his reelection on the line and the coronavirus death count approaching 200,000, this president is not about to let up on his refusal to let mere science get in the way of a favorable campaign narrative.
For us Americans living with that narrative, face masks have become more than a public health measure. For many — too many, in my view — they have become a political statement.