Question for Pence: If we're supposed to follow local guidance on COVID-19, why did Trump hold his rally in Tulsa?

Goooood question. The health commissioner in Tulsa spent the week before the rally all but begging Trump not to go through with it. Pence’s message today when he was asked at a coronavirus briefing about the importance of wearing masks was to say simply, “We think that the first principle is that people ought to listen to their state and local authorities,” which is the best he could do under the circumstances knowing Trump’s skepticism about mask-wearing.

But Paula Reid of CBS was ready for that. If we’re supposed to listen to local authorities, why didn’t Trump listen to Tulsa’s health commissioner?

Pence is an old pro and by now an expert at ducking awkward questions about Trump but even he couldn’t muster much of an answer to that. This is an almost total non-response except for the bit at the beginning reminding everyone that people have a constitutional right to attend rallies, which is a silly defense.

The BLM protesters have a constitutional right to peacefully protest by the thousands too but that doesn’t make mass protests during a pandemic a good idea. Having a right and judiciously exercising that right under particular circumstances are separate things. In fact, the Tulsa rally was arguably the lesser of Trump’s two transgressions of social distancing rules this past week. Holding a large indoor event three days ago in Maricopa County, Arizona, of all places, is mind-boggling in hindsight. How bad is it there right now? This bad:

Maricopa County, which includes Phoenix, is recording as many as 2,000 cases a day, “eclipsing the New York City boroughs even on their worst days,” warned a Wednesday brief by disease trackers at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia, which observed, “Arizona has lost control of the epidemic.”…

At critical junctures, blunders by top officials undermined faith in the data purportedly driving decision-making, according to experts monitoring Arizona’s response. And when forbearance was most required, as the state began to reopen despite continued community transmission, an abrupt and uniform approach — without transparent benchmarks or latitude for stricken areas to hold back — led large parts of the public to believe the pandemic was over.

And now, Arizona is facing more per capita cases than recorded by any country in Europe or even more than the confirmed number of cases in hard-hit Brazil.

It’d be like the prime minister of Italy holding a rally in Lombardy circa late February.

And yet Arizona remains open for business, for the moment. The conventional wisdom on whether Americans will accept another round of lockdowns is absolutely not. We’re wild stallions, rebels since the Founding. We may have gone along with an initial lockdown because COVID was still new and frightening then, but now that the stable door has been thrown open the authorities will never be able to shut it again. We The People simply won’t stand for it. It’s nonsense, though:

Note the supermajority of Republicans who say they’d comply with a new stay-at-home order. ABC News conducted its own poll this week to take the public’s temperature on reopening: Are we moving too fast, too slow, or just right, they asked? A 56 percent majority said “too fast.” ABC also asked people whether they’re willing to engage in any or all of 15 specific activities that they usually do in normal times (e.g., go to the gym). They found that the public has grown less willing over the past two weeks across all 15.

The big one in that graph is the last one, sending children to school, which stood at 54 percent two weeks ago but has slid to 49 percent now. A lot hangs on the question of whether and when kids can go back in the classroom, starting with parents’ ability to work full-time without needing to worry about child care during the day. NBC pointed out today, though, that that question has gotten curiously short shrift in public debates about COVID-19 even though (a) we can’t be more than a month or so away from having to decide about school this fall and (b) if public schools are going to undertake safety precautions then someone’s going to need to foot the enormous bill. Various European countries that have resumed schooling have managed to avoid large outbreaks and a recent French study concluded that school children don’t spread the virus (much). If that’s true, we need to move ahead with reopening schools pronto. One would think Trump would be all over this issue since it’s essential for his dreams of a robust economic recovery to have parents focused on work this fall, but he doesn’t talk much about it. Yet.

Exit question: Did the BLM protests end up seeding new outbreaks after all? There’s circumstantial evidence here that they have, but it’s hard to reconcile that with the fact that Minnesota and NYC aren’t seeing major spread despite the fact that they hosted large demonstrations.

Trending on HotAir Videos