BRANDON J. WEICHERT | THE WEICHERT REPORT
The Trump Administration charged with handling the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) response to the coronavirus outbreak at the national level, Dr. Anthony Fauci, has spoken with CBS’ 60 Minutes recently in which he doused much speculation regarding whether or not the warmer weather will dissipate the ongoing spread of coronavirus (coded COVID-19 by medical professionals).
Here is the video:
Basically, don’t place your eggs in the basket of hope that all will be well by April, as President Donald Trump has. Even if the warmer months do dissipate the spread of the novel disease, it won’t be going away. Already, the COVID-19 strain has mutated. What’s more, people who’ve been infected and reportedly cleared the COVID-19 infection are now coming down with the disease again. Medical professionals are now uncertain as to whether these patients were merely in “remission” for a time and the disease recurred or, if they did actually clear the disease and it simply returned. In any event, it is a mortifying thought that this disease will be lingering for a while.
As one medical professional from the University of Minneapolis told me earlier this week: comparisons between this disease the seasonal flu are bizarre. Yes, this disease will likely become a routine to us as the influenza strain has become. No, however, there is nothing “normal” about this disease. In fact, there’s nothing “normal” about the seasonal flu either. As the Minneapolis medical professional indicated to me, even the seasonal strain of influenza was becoming “more competent” in its ability to resist human efforts to curtail its effects on the human body. COVID-19 presently has no cure or adequate management protocol.
If the Italian and Chinese examples are anything to go off of, things will continue to get worse globally. Some countries have been more exposed to the disease and have suffered horrendous impacts to their society, personal well-being, economy, and politics. Other countries have been less quickly impacted. Although, that may just be the calm before the storm. Global markets have been so negatively impacted by the outbreak of the disease that we are at the lowest point in the stock market since the 2008 Great Recession began; credit markets have been hit now as well. In the words of my friend and colleague, David P. Goldman, “now leverage is at risk.”
Where I now live in Southwest Florida, a man in Lee County has died from COVID-19 exposure. The authorities had known about his condition for at least a week and kept him in isolation. The 66 year-old man died two days ago. No major notifications to the public were made at any time. Multiple other incidences of COVID-19 cases have proliferated throughout the Sunshine State, which is now in the throes of Spring Break season–meaning many people from around the world will be crowding our streets, our downtowns, our beaches, and theme parks–all bringing with them their germs, any of which could be carrying COVID-19 to our homes and shops. That the local governments appear to have resorted to their preferred tactic of stonewalling and covering-up should concern you all.
Frankly, we aren’t being told the truth. This isn’t a Republican or Democratic Party thing. This is a power and honesty thing. When governments are totally clueless about how to handle something that they’ve not anticipated (which, of course, they should have anticipated at some point having to deal with a pandemic situation), their preference is to stonewall. This is especially true in a contentious political season, such as the one that the United States is currently in.
Dr. Fauci’s ominous words at the end of the one-minute clip provided above should indicate to all citizens to be prepared. Sources in the Seattle area tell me that things are worse there than are being reported in the national news. The federal government appears unable–or, more probably, unwilling–to detail the impacts of this disease. Schools are planning for a minimum of two week closures, assigning students homework and preparing for teleconferencing-style teaching in the Seattle area. Hospitals are being cleared out. In fact, similar preparations are being made in the Naples, Fla. area, where patients under the age of 12 will not be seen unless of a catastrophic emergency at local hospitals and sickly patients will be encouraged to stay in their homes and to self-isolate.
Meanwhile, despite the fact that the federal government is insufficiently reporting these things, we are already hearing about airliners planning to halve their domestic flights. The Department of Defense has supposedly floated the idea of limiting all non-essential work travel for their employees, so as to cut down on the loss of workforce to the slowly spreading illness.
In essence, our society is undergoing what is akin to the slow-boiling of frogs. You’ve all heard the fable of the best way to boil a frog: put the live animals in water and then slowly turn up the heat, keeping the live animals calm and comfortable until the very end, so as to prevent them from getting scared and jumping out of the water before they are fully cooked. Just pouring the live frogs into pre-boiling water would be an unnecessary disaster.
As I’ve said of Beijing: the US government appears intent on stage-managing this crisis.
There is merit to this method, as it likely does keep the public calm even as forces unseen quietly maneuver the public into a more defensible (and more manageable) position. But it is all very disconcerting, as there is no real response to the disease spread.
At the same time, news has leaked from the CDC that the government is planning for a minimum of 500,000 deaths within the year from COVID-19. Our science community is not stupid. They are looking at the disease; they’ve been studying pathogens and pandemics for decades, thinking about the next Spanish Flu-like event. This could very well be it. Many medical professionals that I’ve spoken to over the last three weeks from all over the country have all indicated their concern that people are not prepared for what is coming–and many are convinced that this is, indeed, the next Spanish Flu-type event.
Just look at Italy: the entire country is being shut down.
Specifically, the portions of Italy near their northern border are intensely being quarantined–particularly around the country’s financial hub of Lombardy. Then, there are the instances of Milan and Venice, which are under total lockdown from March 8-April 3. This affects 16 million people. There are unprecedented quarantine protocols being enacted. Everything is shutting down; the global stance of Italy is no longer valid. Similar disruptions are occurring in pariah state, Iran. Israel has also been totally disrupted by the spread of COVID-19.
Everyone hopes that things will get back to normal by April, when the warmer weather hits. But, comments from Dr. Fauci (and others I’ve spoken to) indicate that medical professionals are privier to the truth than us common folk are. In fact, there is no going back to “normal”–at least not anytime soon. Life will continue but, as I’ve written before, it will be a new paradigm: normal life + COVID-19. The disease won’t go away. Even if it does abate in warmer months, it is likely, as Fauci indicated above (and as I’ve warned in previous posts here and elsewhere), to return in the colder months.
We all need to start looking at a new paradigm for our entire society. When President Trump campaigned in 2016, he was the only candidate in my lifetime who took a negative view toward “free” trade, open borders, and overall globalization. Everyone scoffed and rolled their eyes at Trump back then.
Even when he won, the Republican and Democratic Party establishments both did their best to hem the president’s more controversial (in their uninventive and corrupt eyes) policy preferences in favor of leading him, like a wayward, wild horse, to the water of more Mideast wars and greater tax cuts. As the COVID-19 outbreak fundamentally alters our “normal” lives (and it will), Trump has a chance to more fully embrace his “Make America Great Again” agenda. If he doesn’t reassert these themes going into November, he will be overridden as more Americans die and are diagnosed with this pernicious, novel, and currently incurable illness.
Covering up the truth will only help him so long. For the president to be reelected (which he absolutely must be for the sake of our republic), he must get out ahead of this thing. When the Nazis were blitzing London, Churchill did not say, “Bombs? What bombs?” He acknowledged what was happening; he did not downplay the severity of the attacks.
Instead, he opened the tunnels and used them as shelters for the people (although not initially for the impoverished folks of the hardest-hit working-class areas of London–though that changed over time). Churchill knew they were in a pickle. Trump must acknowledge this fact as well. He must not downplay anything. He must acknowledge it and lead our country to a better place–otherwise he will be defeated in November.
Lastly, the market dropped more than 900 points as news of a price war erupted between the Russian Federation and the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia over global oil prices. Ali Khedery, an energy analyst, believes that oil is going hit $20 per barrel this year. Saudi Arabia has wanted to cut production in order to stimulate demand in the face of COVID-19-induced declines in world demand for oil (notably from China) whereas Russia, another major player in the world’s fossil fuel sector, has resisted, wanting to keep the price oil where it is at.
Saudi Arabia has decided that they are going to cut production while Russia resists. So, in other words, the economy as measured by the stock market will not be a valid barometer for determining Trump’s success as the steward of the American economy–which will seriously harm his reelection efforts as time gets closer to November.
All of this belies the fact that Trump must stop relying on the cheap line of “our economy is doing well” under his leadership, He cannot rest on that tired, stodgy, traditional Blue Blood Republican Establishment argument. Besides, it cheapens him. Trump’s movement is more than that. He was more dynamic of a political player than that. Trump must embrace the old themes of immigration, trade, infrastructure, healthcare reform–rather than just tax cuts and foreign policy–before the Democrats can galvanize around “Sleepy” Joe Biden as their nominee. Time is not on his side. Whoever takes the narrative and charges ahead first will win in November.