“Correctly” is a strong word in context here, my man.
There are a lot of things we can say (and have said) about how the dynamic duo of Cuomo and de Blasio responded to New York’s crisis but the word “correctly” doesn’t figure in many of them. Surely we’re not at a point of such despair in America on how to combat COVID-19 that feeding nursing-home residents into a viral woodchipper is now part of a “correct” course of action.
The headlines from this unfortunate quote have been terrible but after watching the clip I don’t think he means to say that the entire New York response has been handled “correctly.” What he means is that they’ve done what should be done to keep downward pressure on cases after the state passed its peak. For instance, despite having only 40 percent of the combined population of Texas and Florida, New York has done about as many tests as those two states combined have. Even now, weeks past the peak, they’re conducting about as many tests per day as Texas and Florida are even though TX and FL are at the height of their epidemics. New York has also implemented contact tracing to try to identify hot spots as they emerge and Cuomo’s been careful about reopening in stages only after certain health-related benchmarks have been met.
It’s like saying that the Soviets responded “correctly” to Chernobyl after the meltdown. It might be true, but, er…
Are we going to be seeing more of Fauci soon, by the way? The president had an announcement this morning:
NEW: Pres. Trump says he is restarting coronavirus briefings.
"I think it's a great to get information out to the public," he says, adding, "We had a lot of people watching…in the history of cable television, there's never been anything like it." https://t.co/ZJ38Xc4ii5 pic.twitter.com/5X3D8nSal6
— ABC News (@ABC) July 20, 2020
I’ll repeat what I said last week: I think restarting the briefings could work for him as a way to signal to the public that he’s taking the crisis seriously and doing what he can behind the scenes to bring down cases. But they need to be light on Trump and heavy on Fauci, Birx, Giroir, Redfield, whoever. The fact that POTUS is already chattering about the big ratings they had in April and how he plans to be “involved” in the new briefings suggests that before long these are going to devolve once again into two-hour rantfests about Obama tapping his phones or whatever. Politically, the point of these new briefings should be to leverage the trust the public already has in scientists like Fauci in order to serve Trump’s reelection effort. If instead he bigfoots the doctors by elbowing them away from the podium and holding an ersatz rally in the briefing room instead, it’ll defeat the purpose.
Trump seems to understand that on some level per this WaPo story from the weekend:
Trump told advisers to tamp down their criticism of Fauci because he believed it was politically harmful to him, aides said, and in a show of solidarity Vice President Pence tweeted a photograph of him meeting with Fauci in the Situation Room…
Trump in recent weeks has been committing less of his time and energy to managing the pandemic, according to advisers, and has only occasionally spoken in detail about the topic in his public appearances. One of these advisers said the president is “not really working this anymore. He doesn’t want to be distracted by it. He’s not calling and asking about data. He’s not worried about cases.”…
Others in Trump’s orbit have privately shared frustrations about Fauci, including White House chief of staff Mark Meadows and Pence chief of staff Marc Short. Still, Meadows reacted angrily about Navarro’s op-ed, and Short told others he thought it was a mistake, White House officials said.
That’s a campaign slogan in the making. “Trump 2020: Not really working this anymore.” Restarting the briefings is designed to counter that perception, of course. If Trump ends up hijacking them and inadvertently sending the message that he cares more about mail-in voting or the Durham investigation or the Goya boycott or Antifa or pretty much anything besides coronavirus, they’ll end up confirming the perception instead. For his own sake, I hope he’s on message.
I wonder if Fauci will even be at the briefings. With so many top Trumpers having criticized him this past week, it’d be bizarre to see him back at the White House tomorrow as point man on the pandemic. Presumably it’ll be Birx who’s in charge with Fauci making only occasional cameos.