It was just another Monday. Things were going just fine and then they turned sour:
The remarkable stock market comeback of 2020 briefly had another notch in its belt Monday: Stocks once again turned positive for the year. But the sizable rally fizzled late in the day, and the market turned negative.
California’s decision to close indoor spaces, such as bars, restaurants and movie theaters, made some investors question whether America’s economic recovery was sustainable.
The Dow had jumped up 563 points and ended the day up just 11 points. The NASDAQ was worse. It had been up 1.9% and closed down 2.1% – 227 points.
Maybe things really are quite dismal:
The COVID-19 Eviction Defense Project, a coalition of economic researchers and legal experts, estimates that 19 million to 23 million Americans are at risk for eviction by the end of September.
Others see that too:
Today, upwards of 20 million U.S. renters are poised to be evicted between now and September, according to Emily Benfer, the chair of the American Bar Association’s Task Force Committee on Eviction.
The remarkable stock market comeback of 2020 seems to have been delusional optimism fed by fear, fear of missing out as others made their uninformed bets that things would soon be wonderful. But they made those bets. Take a chance. Bet with them. They must know something, right? And then that man out here, out west, said nope. They know nothing. This is not working:
Governor Gavin Newsom shut down indoor activities across California on Monday in the starkest sign yet that the nation’s most populous state is scrambling to prevent months of progress against the coronavirus from evaporating.
Newsom ordered houses of worship, gyms and barbershops to close across dozens of counties that collectively contain the vast majority of California’s population and most of its urban centers. Statewide, bars will need to again shutter and restaurants must halt indoor dining.
The sweeping order punctuated California’s rapidly deteriorating situation. In March, Newsom was the first governor in the nation to fully shut down his state, elevating California into a poster child for aggressive efforts to limit the pandemic’s spread. Public health officials credited the effort with staving off a surge that might have crippled the state’s health care system.
And then the citizens of California threw that away:
Caseloads and hospitalization numbers have risen sharply in recent weeks as California authorized counties to restart various sectors of the economy. Hospitals in some parts of the state are staring down the prospect of running out of beds as the state’s seven-day average of new infections is approaches 9,000 daily, while its positive test rate has climbed above 7 percent after hovering near 4 percent during the initial reopening process.
Florida is at 27 percent and Texas and Arizona close to that – with a five percent positive test rate the target – so California wasn’t all THAT bad – but it is still shutting down to save its hospital system. We reopened. The citizens of California wouldn’t wear masks and dropped all that social distancing crap, no matter what Newsom said. Oops. Those other three states have Republican governors who have vowed to reopen everything. They won’t back down, ever, and day by day are slowly backing down. They’ll get to where Newsom is soon enough. Delusional optimism fed by fear of missing out has to end:
In another sign of California’s precarious status, the state’s two largest school districts – those serving San Diego and Los Angeles – announced on Monday that students would not return to campus in the fall, a decision that affects more than 700,000 students.
Newsom was prepared to let Trump rage and threaten this or that. Trump is like that, but what he wants is impossible.
NBC News’ Benjy Sarlin covers that:
As the calls from the White House to fully reopen schools grow louder, evidence continues to pile up to show that scenario is unlikely to happen, at least not on the national scale President Donald Trump desires. That’s not because state and local officials aren’t trying, but because the spread of the virus is beginning to overwhelm even the best-laid plans.
Dallas Independent School District Superintendent Michael Hinojosa, for example, had been working on a blueprint to reopen schools in August as part of a long and delicate process. But with the virus now surging across Texas, the outbreak may make the decision for him.
“Initially I thought we would be ready, but I’m starting to have second thoughts,” Hinojosa told MSNBC’s Garret Haake last week. “Our parents have pivoted, more than 50 percent of them are now saying they don’t want to come, and we’re hearing loud and clear from our employees, especially our teachers, that they have a lot of concerns about how we can pull this off.”
That’s a preview of what’s to come:
Public health experts, school officials, and teacher unions are warning that any proposal to physically reopen likely depends on containing the broader spread of the virus outside the classroom.
“I think it does become hard or impossible in areas with very high rates of infection,” Joshua Sharfstein, Vice Dean for Public Health Practice and Community Engagement at Johns Hopkins University and an advocate for reopening schools, said. “People will just be getting sick in the community and bringing it into the school. It will be very disruptive to the ability to stay open.”
That’s rather obvious:
Officials in Nashville and Atlanta have announced the school year will start online due to their own coronavirus surges. Virginia Governor Ralph Northam has warned that school districts, some of which are already adopting hybrid plans, will not reopen if the state can’t keep infections down.
This presents obstacles to President Trump’s late scramble to open up schools, which he’s so far pursued by demanding that the Centers for Disease Control scale back its safety guidelines and by threatening schools that don’t open with some kind of financial punishment.
No one cares, not even the quite Republican governor in Texas:
Even as Texas state officials move forward with a plan to require all schools to reopen full-time, for example, Governor Greg Abbott has cautioned that “if we continue to see COVID spreading the way that it is right now, it may be necessary to employ that flexibility and use online learning.” State guidance materials caution schools to design plans for “intermittent closure” if outbreaks occur.
This just isn’t going to work:
The CDC offers some guidance to schools on how to isolate students or staff if they fall ill, but if parents pull their kids out of class in large numbers in favor of a remote learning option, that could effectively quash re-openings even if they continue on paper.
Both the worsening pandemic and Trump’s demands threaten to accelerate the trend by increasing anxiety about health conditions in schools. In Texas, a poll in June by the University of Texas/Texas Politics Project found 65 percent of respondents still considered schools “unsafe” for students.
And it’s not just them:
Keeping teachers on board with reopening amid a raging series of outbreaks is also likely to be a struggle. American Federation of Teachers president Randi Weingarten has warned of a potential exodus of teachers retiring, quitting, or taking leave if they decide conditions are unsafe.
Everyone seems to be walking away from Trump now. Some of them even seem to be tired of being used:
The White House has frequently cited recommendations by the American Academy of Pediatrics, for example, to attempt 5-day-a-week re-openings in schools.
But the AAP, seemingly alarmed by Trump’s approach, issued a joint statement with national teachers unions and the School Superintendents Association on Friday warning that any approach to schools needed to follow public health guidance and get buy-in from local parents and teachers.
Critically, they warned that reopening plans should be scrapped if the outbreak becomes too severe.
“Schools in areas with high levels of COVID-19 community spread should not be compelled to reopen against the judgment of local experts,” they wrote.
Everything has turned sour for Trump, and this sort of thing doesn’t help either:
A 37-year-old Ohio man who claimed the coronavirus pandemic was just ‘hype’ and repeatedly refused to wear a face mask has died from COVID-19.
Richard Rose, a staunch supporter of Donald Trump, wrote on Facebook on July 1 that he was experiencing COVID-19 symptoms, and went to get tested.
The US Army veteran, who served for nine years and did two tours of Iraq and Afghanistan, tested positive.
He died from the virus at his home in Port Clinton, Ohio, on July 4.
Fox News was too discrete and respectful of the dead to mention this, but this went viral:
On May 29 he posted: ‘I stand by my President and his words. It’s finally time to have a President who has our backs. I’m glad to call him MY PRESIDENT!!’
He accompanied the text with a screenshot of Trump vowing to ‘crack down’ on Black Lives Matter protesters in Minneapolis, after the death of George Floyd, and Trump referring to them as ‘thugs’.
The previous day, he wrote a post criticizing Black Lives Matter and describing the movement as ‘a joke’.
One month later he posted that the pandemic was just hype:
‘Let make this clear,’ he wrote, in a post that was shared 10,000 times. I’m not buying a fucking mask. I’ve made it this far by not buying into that damn hype.’
And then one thing led to another:
Leading up to his death, Rose shared updates about his health, writing on July 1: ‘I’ve been very sick the past few days. Symptoms of Covid-19. This morning I finally got swabbed. I should know soon what the results are. I just want to feel good again!’
Later that day he revealed that he had tested positive for the virus
‘Well. I’m officially under quarantine for the next 14 days,’ he wrote.
‘I just tested positive for COVID-19. That sucks because I had just started a new job!’
On July 2, Rose shared: ‘This covid shut sucks! I’m so out of breath just sitting here.’
He died two days later.
So, is he a hero-martyr who died heroically for Donald Trump, or is he a sad and now quite dead clueless jerk? Maybe he’s just an American. Michelle Goldberg explores that idea:
If you’re lucky enough to live in New Zealand, the coronavirus nightmare has been mostly over since June. After more than two weeks with no new cases, the government lifted almost all restrictions that month. The borders are still shut, but inside the country, normal life returned.
It’s coming back elsewhere too. Taiwan, where most days this month no new cases have been reported, just held the Taipei Film Festival, and a recent baseball game drew 10,000 spectators. Italy was once the epicenter of Europe’s outbreak and remains in a state of emergency, but with just a few hundred new cases a day in the whole country, bars are open and tourists have started returning, though of course Americans remain banned. According to The New York Times’s figures, there were 321 new cases in all of Canada last Friday.
And then there’s America:
We had 68,241 cases. As of last week, the worst per capita outbreak on the planet was in Arizona, followed by Florida. The world is closed to us; American passports were once coveted, but now only a few dozen nations will let us in. Lawrence O. Gostin, professor of global health law at Georgetown, told me he doesn’t expect American life to feel truly normal before summer 2022.
California had to start over. California just lost a few precious months. The nation will lose two years. Goldberg is not happy:
As our country plunges into a black hole of unchecked illness, death and pariahdom, the administration is waging a PR war on its own top disease expert, Anthony Fauci, trying to convince news outlets that he can’t be trusted. The move to treat Dr. Fauci as if he were a warring political rival comes as he has grown increasingly vocal in his concerns about the national surge in coronavirus cases…
Trump has also undercut the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, retweeting the conspiratorial ramblings of the former game show host Chuck Woolery: “The most outrageous lies are the ones about Covid-19. Everyone is lying. The CDC media, Democrats, our doctors, not all but most, that we are told to trust.”
Trump was challenging America. Who do you really trust, Anthony Fauci or Chuck Woolery? Things have gotten that absurd, along with that tale from Ohio:
There are now so many stories of Trump fans dying after blithely exposing themselves to the virus that they’ve become a macabre cliché.
But her expert is onto something:
Gostin was part of the international panel that put together the Global Health Security Index, a report released last year that evaluated the pandemic readiness of every nation on earth. No country, they found, was as prepared as the United States. But the coronavirus, he said, has shown us that “health system capacity alone is almost useless unless you have a government that can unleash that capacity promptly and consistently.”
A multibillionaire former reality television host, now married to his third drop-dead gorgeous trophy wife in a row, may not have the skill-set to unleash the health system capacity of the nation promptly and consistently. A pleasant former game-show host might not have that skill-set ether. But then is Tony Fauci rich? Did he have a nine-year run with a quite popular game show? Trump is asking those questions. And that’s the end of things:
America has long fancied itself a swaggering colossus. It will likely emerge from this calamity humbled and decrepit.
The CDC forecasts total deaths from Covid-19 to rise to as many as 160,000 just by the end of the month. Many times that number will have long-term medical complications, and a record 5.4 million people lost their health insurance between February and May. A generation of American kids will have their educations derailed, and many parents who don’t lose their jobs due to the economic crisis will see their careers ruined by the demands of child care.
The country’s international humiliation is total; historians may argue about when the American century began, but I doubt they’ll disagree about when it ended.
Everyone remembers that Project for the New American Century that gave us the Iraq War and all the subsequent wars that followed that war, Dick Cheney and Donald Rumsfeld and Paul Wolfowitz and that crowd. This would be OUR century!
Goldberg finds that a bit quaint:
Even before the coronavirus, researchers spoke of loneliness as its own epidemic in America. A March article in the medical journal JAMA Psychiatry attributed 162,000 deaths a year to the fallout of social isolation. Now people are being told that they can socialize only under the most stringent conditions. Much of what makes life sweet is lost to us, not for days or weeks, but months or years.
“We’re going to stagger out of it; we’re not going to snap back,” Gostin said of the pandemic. He added, “It’s going to take several years for us to be able to come out of all of the trauma that we’ve had.”
Yet somehow there’s no drumbeat of calls for the president’s resignation. People seem to feel too helpless. Protesters can make demands of governors and mayors, especially Democratic ones, because at the local level small-d democratic accountability still exists. Nationally such responsiveness is gone; no one expects the president to do his job, or to be held to account when he doesn’t.
That’s how you know the country was broken before coronavirus ever arrived.
So it comes down to this:
This suffering, your suffering, wasn’t inevitable. The coronavirus is a natural disaster. The Republican Party’s death-cult fealty to Trump is wholly man-made.
And this death-cult fealty to Trump is more than that one dead guy in Ohio:
Senators Roy Blunt of Missouri and Pat Roberts of Kansas are planning to skip the Republican National Convention next month as the host state of Florida deals with the biggest outbreak of coronavirus cases in the nation.
Representatives Mario Diaz-Balart and Francis Rooney of Florida are sticking with their plans not to attend, even though the convention is now in their home state.
Marco Rubio, Florida’s senior senator, has not committed to attending. Neither has John Thune of South Dakota, the second-ranking Senate Republican, or Representative Liz Cheney of Wyoming, the third-ranking House Republican.
As new cases surge in Florida, including 15,300 reported on Sunday, more Republicans are taking a wait-and-see approach to the event, or deciding to skip it all together.
Do they join the death cult or not? There is that fear of missing out, but there’s reality too:
The GOP, which moved the convention to Jacksonville from Charlotte, N.C., after balking at health precautions there, now finds itself locked into a state with a far bigger virus problem, and planning an event whose attendance is waning as the pandemic escalates.
“Everybody just assumes no one is going,” said Representative Darin LaHood of Illinois, an honorary state co-chairman for the Trump campaign.
But that’s a matter of risk assessment:
Even as growing numbers of elected leaders express wariness about attending, a strong contingent of Republican National Committee members – many of whom have their political fortunes tied to Mr. Trump – say they still plan to go. In interviews, more than a dozen of them said they were committed, even “proud,” to celebrate the re-nomination of Mr. Trump…
“It’s a risk you have to take,” said Morton Blackwell, 80, an RNC member from Virginia who has attended every party convention since he was the youngest elected delegate backing Barry Goldwater in 1964. “You take risks every day. You drive down the street and a cement truck could crash into you. You can’t not do what you have to do because of some possibility of a bad result.”
Think of that young man in Ohio. Just go for it:
RNC members have little sympathy for members of Congress who pass on the convention. Party committee members have far more need to demonstrate loyalty to Mr. Trump – both for the president’s approval and for their own Trump-loving constituents – than do members of Congress skipping Jacksonville.
“It is not only my duty, but also my honor to go to Charlotte and Jacksonville to re-elect President Trump,” said Art Wittich, an RNC member from Montana. “As such, I am willing to assume any risk to do so.”
Think of that young man in Ohio. He’s dead. But let these RNC members do what they want. Everyone makes his or her own risk assessments. Donald Trump might be beginning to understand that now. And that may end his presidency.