I hope he’s negative, firstly for his own sake and secondly because of the lesson that would be drawn by the public if he’s positive and turns out to be one of the septuagenarians lucky enough to shake the illness without medical intervention. “They told us this disease kills senior citizens,” people would say. “Trump didn’t even miss a day of work!” Social distancing would go right out the window for much of the population, assuming they’re seriously practicing it at all.
On the other hand, a bad lesson is bound to be drawn either way. If he’s negative, people will look at all the contact he’s had lately with the infected and conclude that the disease isn’t as easily transmitted as the experts claim. At least four people who were at Mar-a-Lago last weekend with him have tested positive, including the press secretary to the president of Brazil and the mayor of Miami. BuzzFeed has a map of all the COVID-19 exposures around Trump over the past week or so, from his Florida resort to White House meetings to CPAC.
If he’s negative, he’s lucky. Many average joes won’t be as lucky, especially elderly ones:
47 of 95 (49.5%) tested employees at the Life Care Center of Kirkland have tested positive for #COVID19. 19 patients have died. 37 people have died across Washington State. This is just the tip of the iceberg.
— DCGomez (@AllThingsNatSec) March 14, 2020
I don’t think the White House will tell us if he’s positive. They’d be nervous about the public drawing the conclusion I described up top and wary of the blowback they’d get for Trump’s decision to continue to keep close quarters with every important official in the government’s task force while awaiting the results of a coronavirus test. Watch, then read on.
Question: If he was tested yesterday, what was the White House doctor doing putting out this letter last night?
I understand the political reasons for not testing him. It seems unfair for VIPs to be insta-tested when the great unwashed masses are forced to do without; plus, the administration wants to send the message at a moment when tests are being rationed that only those presenting symptoms that make infection seem likely should have a test wasted on them. No symptoms, no test. I think that’s the wrong approach to an official as important as the president, who’s in constant contact with other important officials. But if that’s the message, stick to it. Don’t have him turn around 12 hours after this was released and say that he was tested out of an abundance of caution anyway.
Why can’t they get their story straight on anything, even something as easy as this? How did they go out there yesterday and announce that Google is building a website that will help direct patients nationwide to local testing locations when Google’s doing no such thing? It’s a separate company under the Google umbrella that’s working on a site. They’re planning a trial in the Bay Area, not a nationwide run. The site wasn’t even supposed to be accessible by the general public, although the company’s now going to open it up to everyone after the White House caught them off-guard by hyping it.
Where the hell did Trump’s coronavirus czar get this flow chart if there’s no actual website set to roll out tomorrow night?
Anyway. There’s another person whose name you’ll know who was at Mar-a-Lago last weekend along with COVID-19. Ironically, he’s the one person on the opinion side of Fox News who’s been treating this crisis with the full seriousness it deserves. That’s Tucker Carlson, who reportedly shook hands with Brazilian President Jair Bolsonaro while his infected press secretary stood nearby. It wasn’t a pure pleasure trip for Carlson, though. He was there, according to the NYT, to warn Trump that COVID-19 isn’t fake news:
Off the air, Mr. Carlson has been urging Mr. Trump to take the threat of coronavirus more seriously. Last Saturday, Mr. Carlson drove from his residence in Florida to Mar-a-Lago, the president’s Florida resort, and spoke directly with Mr. Trump about the virus, according to a person with knowledge of their conversation.
A few days ago, after a Carlson monologue about the threat from COVID-19 that appeared to be aimed squarely at influencing Trump, I wrote that “We may have arrived at a state of such dysfunction in terms of how the president processes information that having people like Anthony Fauci and the head of the CDC assure him daily that this is much more threatening than the flu simply can’t get through to him. To really penetrate his consciousness, they need to appeal to a higher authority: Fox News primetime hosts.” Maybe Tucker believes that too. The fate of America may hang not on what Fauci and Deborah Birx are telling POTUS but what the 8 p.m. host on his favorite channel is saying. Fortunately for all of us, Fauci, Birx, and Carlson are broadly in sync.
Meanwhile, as I’m writing this, news is breaking:
Last night, @GOPChairwoman's doctor determined a test for COVID-19 was necessary given her symptoms.
We will provide an update when the test results are available. pic.twitter.com/oLla7pLaDH
— Michael Ahrens (@michaelahrens) March 14, 2020
Yes, McDaniel was also at Mar-a-Lago last weekend. That’s five people who were there and later tested positive, if in fact she’s positive. I’m going to guess that she had some face time with Trump given her job, too.
I’ll leave you with these two praiseworthy clips of Carlson from last night, one of which has him grilling top HHS official Seema Verma about her refusal to say on Thursday whether we have enough ventilators in our stockpile for all of the people who will soon need them. Spoiler: We do not.
Tucker Carlson talking about coronavirus testing failures: "Why was the richest, most advanced country on the planet not prepared?" He said "government incompetence played an awfully big role in all of this." pic.twitter.com/qMWyFt29GK
— Brian Stelter (@brianstelter) March 14, 2020
CMS Administrator Seema Verma asked 4 times in 5 minutes whether there is a shortage of ventilators in the U.S.
Verma dodges 4 times.
Asked how many are stockpiled:
“We’re still assessing”
Asked if there are enough for case uptick:
"I don’t want to make drastic predictions" pic.twitter.com/7pA5WhhLVG
— JM Rieger (@RiegerReport) March 14, 2020
Update: Yes, the president is negative, says the White House.