Tuesday night, President Trump resumed White House press briefings regarding the status of the coronavirus. In response to criticism from some people that these briefings had become too long, elaborate and partisan, it was shorter than the previous ones, was delivered in a calm tone, and with fewer questions from the assembled media. Wednesday night, he followed up with another press conference that was also short and to the point.
Below please find some of the highlights provided by Mr. Trump in those press conferences. I don’t wish to bury the lede. Therefore, I will lead with what I consider to be the most significant point.
1. There are in excess of 100 potential vaccines in various stages of development. Two of them, in particular, are entering the final testing phase and may be available shortly. In anticipation of this the administration has already entered into a distribution deal with Pfizer and Bio Tech to provide a minimum of 100 million doses of the “winning” vaccine for distribution. Mr. Trump stated that a team from the US Army will handle the logistics. In my opinion, the imminent prospect of a readily available, safe vaccine “trumps” all the controversial and negative news floating around about his handling of the CV.
2. Medical professionals have improved treatment protocols in the past few months. They have discovered various therapeutic treatments, such as remdesivir, that have been effective, particularly when prescribed at an early stage of the CV.
3. As a result, the average time a CV patient has to remain in the hospital has been cut in half since April. During that same period, US fatalities have decreased 75%.
4. The median age of those fatalities is 78. Despite various precautions that have been employed to protect the elderly (except for Governor Cuomo’s faux pas in NY), approximately 50% of all US fatalities have occurred in nursing homes. This is despite the fact that seniors make up only approximately 1% of the population. Even though every death is tragic, this outcome makes sense to me as most of the inhabitants are elderly and in poor health to begin with.
5. The president described the major elements of a major emphasis on nursing homes and long-term care facilities. Firstly, FEMA is sending additional PPE to all 15,000 registered NHs, including five-minute and 15-minute test kits.. Secondly, HHS is providing funds from its emergency account to NHs for hiring additional personnel and training them. Thirdly, HHS will be identifying high-risk NHs in each state and notifying the governors so they can take appropriate action.
6. The overall fatality rate in the US is about 3.7%. Approximately, 99.96% of the fatalities are adults. Children rarely get the CV, and when they do they recover very quickly. Many times, they don’t even realize they were sick. I think this fact should be considered when evaluating whether or not to re-open the schools.
Some 20 countries worldwide have already re-opened their schools successfully, so there is empirical evidence that it can be done. I believe that, although there may be legitimate concerns, on balance it would be beneficial to the children.
7. The US has administered some 50 million tests, far more than any other country. Moreover, that is three times the number of tests administered by the rest of the western hemisphere and 50% more per capita than Europe. India, with far more of a population, is second with 12 million. Obviously, simple math tells you that more tests mean more cases. I don’t think that is the sole reason for the alarming increase in the number of cases, but certainly it is a factor. Other possible causes could be (1) the recent spate of demonstrations/rioting sans masks and social distancing, (2) increased travel, and (3) the increase in people congregating in groups socially.
8. Presently, there are no unfulfilled PPE requests.
9. The president has dispatched some 7,000 military medical personnel to hotspots in AZ, TX, FL and CA to assist.
President Trump endorsed the use of masks and encouraged people to maintain social distancing but fell short of requiring them.
10. Both Parties are negotiating an additional aid package. As usual, the GOP and Dems prefer different approaches. So, I guess we’ll have to wait and see what provisions the package ultimately contains. Mr. Trump is likely to sign whatever bill comes out of the Congress. The enhanced unemployment benefits expire at the end of the week, so time is of the essence.
11. According to Mr. Trump the overall goal is “not [merely] to manage the pandemic but to eliminate it.” He wants to shelter high-risk persons, enable non-high-risk persons to return to work, and enable kids to return to school.
12. In other news of interest the NY Times has reported that (1) recently the US death rate exceeded 1,000 persons; (2) United Airlines will be requiring passengers to wear masks in its lounges and baggage areas; (3) Harvard announced it will be barring foreign students from campus; and (4) as many as 1/3 of all museums may not survive the pandemic.
Some news channels, notably CNN, declined to telecast the news conference, perhaps, on the basis that they didn’t want to give Mr. Trump additional air time. Some of them provided highlights, which, likely, were edited selectively to portray Mr. Trump in the worst possible light. In my opinion, this was an example of irresponsible journalism. The CV is one of, if not the, most significant news stories of the year. Regardless of politics, the content of the news conference was certainly newsworthy, and these outlets denied their viewers access to the unedited information. All that said, I suppose I shouldn’t be surprised.
Many of our cities remain in chaos, dominated by lawlessness, rioting, looting, destruction of property, and even murder. The Democratic mayors and governors of these cities (NY, DC, Philly, Portland, Atlanta, Seattle and LA, among others) and states seem to be unable and/or unwilling to stop it. The situation cries out for federal assistance, yet, these Dem mayors and governors have refused to allow Mr. Trump to send in federal troops to assist (although he has deployed troops to Portland to protect federal property).
I would love it if someone could explain to me the reason for this, other than blatant politics. The number one responsibility of government is to provide security and protection for its citizens. Without that, we have no government, no country. The Dem administrations in these cities and states have failed dismally. I hope the voters remember this on Election Day.
A final thought: Nancy Pelosi compared the federal troops helping out in Portland to “Nazi stormtroopers.” Really?! That is not a valid or appropriate comparison in the least. Moreover, it is an insult to the memory of the six million Jews whom the Nazis murdered in the Holocaust. I think Ms. Pelosi needs a history lesson. She also needs to apologize. I’d like to believe she just made a really stupid, insensitive mistake, but it is possible she said it intentionally to pander to some of her supporters’ anti-Semitic leanings.