“Did anybody see my speech the other night on Saturday night? But I said the other night, there’s never been anything where they have so many names. I could give you 19 or 20 names for that. It’s got all different names, Wuhan. Kawuhan was catching on. Coronavirus. Kung flu. COVID-19. I said what’s the 19, COVID-19, some people can’t explain what the 19, give me… COVID-19, I said, ‘That’s an odd name.’ I could give you many, many names. Some people call it the Chinese flu, the China flu. They call it the China, as opposed to the China.” — The President of the United States in Arizona on Tuesday, using lame racist epithets and anti-science mockery in his continuing campaign to wish away a global pandemic that has killed more than 120,000 Americans in four months.
The “19” in COVID-19, of course, describes the year — 2019 — that the coronavirus became known to epidemiologists. You would expect the leader of the free world to know the most basic facts about an infectious disease that has killed nearly half a million people worldwide and is raging in the state he was standing in as he proved yet again that his presidency is a public health menace.
Trump’s rambling, racist regurgitations were spewed to an audience of children gathered in a so-called “megachurch” called Dream City. Most did not wear masks. All were sitting on top of each other, roaring with laughter and cheers as Trump endangered their young lives and minds for his political gain and the momentary satisfaction of his insatiable ego.
In fairness, it’s not all Trump’s fault. The kids showed up, presumably with the blessing of their parents and pastor, who assured the faithful that masks and social distancing were unnecessary because the church’s new air-conditioning system “zaps 99.9% of coronavirus.”
I am not making that up.
Despite Trump’s desperate flailing to the contrary, COVID-19 case numbers are soaring and his poll numbers are in free-fall. Each time this pathetic, threadbare carnival barker tries to lie these truths away, they become more glaring to those outside the fact-free confines of Cult 45.
At his underwhelming “coronapalooza” in Tulsa on Saturday, Trump said he asked his administration to slow down testing, because more tests means more confirmed cases. People aren’t sick or dead until you count them.
White House spokesliars immediately insisted that Trump was joking about slow-walking the federal response to the greatest public health crisis in a century. Trump followed up by saying he was not joking, and proved it by moving to end federal funding for testing.
This development was particularly alarming for Republican governors who backed Trump’s white-flag approach to the pandemic and rushed to reopen. The Sun Belt is now on fire with the virus, and the Arsonist in Chief is sanitizing his tiny hands of the damage done in his infernal name.
Due to the long lag-time between infection and the emergence of symptoms, it will be a few weeks or more before we know whether Trump’s ego trips to Tulsa and Phoenix were “super-spreader” events, but Republican governors and GOP officials up for re-election can be sure of this: They are on their own.
If any of them believe Trump gives a damn about them or their people beyond their value to his re-election, they are all living in Dream City, and their nightmares have just begun.