Trump Tweets and Golfs, however Makes No Point out of Virus’s Toll

WASHINGTON — As President Trump’s motorcade pulled into his golf membership in Virginia on an overcast Sunday, a small group of protesters waited outdoors the doorway. One held up an indication.

“I care do U?” it learn. “100,000 useless.”

Mr. Trump and his advisers have stated that he does, however he has made scant effort to show it this Memorial Day weekend. He lastly ordered flags lowered to half-staff on the White Home solely after being badgered to take action by his critics and in any other case took no public discover because the American death toll from the coronavirus pandemic approached a staggering 100,000.

Whereas the nation neared six digits of demise, the president who repeatedly criticized his predecessor {for golfing} throughout a disaster spent the weekend on the hyperlinks for the primary time since March. When he was not zipping round on a cart, he was on social media embracing fringe conspiracy theories, amplifying messages from a racist and sexist Twitter account and lobbing playground insults at perceived enemies, together with his personal former lawyer normal.

This was a demise toll that Mr. Trump as soon as predicted would by no means be reached. In late February, he stated there have been solely 15 coronavirus instances in the US, understating even then the actual number, and declared that “the 15 inside a few days goes to be down to shut to zero.” Within the annals of the American presidency, it could be arduous to recall a extra catastrophically improper prediction. Even after he later acknowledged that it could not be zero, he insisted the demise toll would fall “substantially below the 100,000” mark.

Because it stands now, the coronavirus has contaminated 1.6 million and brought so many lives it’s as if a whole midsize American metropolis — say Boca Raton, Fla., simply to select an instance — merely disappeared. The toll is about to match the 100,000 killed in the US by the pandemic of 1968 and is closing in on the outbreak of 1957-58, which killed 116,000. At this tempo, it’ll stand because the nation’s deadliest public well being catastrophe for the reason that great influenza of 1918-20 — all on the similar time the nation confronts essentially the most extreme financial collapse for the reason that Nice Despair.

Mr. Trump, who has been sharply criticized for a gradual and initially ineffective response to the pandemic, targeted on Sunday on the newer progress, trying forward, not behind. “Circumstances, numbers and deaths are happening all around the Nation!” he exulted on Twitter.

Even that was not fully true. Whereas whole new instances nationally have begun declining, hospitalizations outdoors New York, New Jersey and Connecticut have elevated barely in current days, as Mr. Trump’s personal former Meals and Drug Administration commissioner, Dr. Scott Gottlieb, pointed out.

Altogether, instances are falling in 14 states and Washington, D.C., however holding regular in 28 states and Guam whereas rising in eight states plus Puerto Rico, according to a New York Times database. The American Public Well being Affiliation stated the 100,000 milestone was a time to strengthen efforts to curb the virus, not abandon them.

“That is each a tragedy and a name to motion,” it stated in an announcement. “An infection charges are slowing general within the U.S., however with 1.6 million instances throughout the nation up to now 4 months, the outbreak is way from over. New scorching spots are exhibiting up each day, and charges stay regular in no less than 25 states.”

And even that grim whole barely begins to scratch the floor of the ache and struggling endured by a rustic below siege by the worst public well being disaster mixed with the worst financial disaster in many years.

“It’s a milestone to replicate on the truth that even those that didn’t die bought sick, to replicate on the sacrifices individuals made to remain house, the sacrifices of the well being care staff who shouldn’t have needed to sacrifice,” stated Dr. Tom Frieden, a former director of the Facilities for Illness Management and Prevention. “Most significantly, it ought to lead us to take this severely. It’s 100,000, but it surely appears like we’re nonetheless in the beginning of this pandemic.”

The White Home on Sunday expressed condolences on the president’s behalf. “President Trump’s prayers for consolation and energy are with all of these grieving the lack of a beloved one or good friend because of this unprecedented plague, and his message to this nice nation stays considered one of resilience, hope and optimism,” stated Judd Deere, a spokesman.

For the president, the emphasis now’s on restoration, not tragedy, as he urges the nation to reopen the shuttered financial system and return to some type of public life. Whereas he’ll journey to Baltimore on Monday to mark Memorial Day and pay tribute to fallen troops — and maybe the virus victims — he was sending a unique sign by {golfing} two days in a row, telling the nation that it was all proper to go away house, head to the course, attend church, frolic on the seaside and get again to work.

{Golfing} throughout a disaster has at all times proved problematic for presidents. Dwight D. Eisenhower was criticized for taking part in after the Soviet Union launched Sputnik. George W. Bush gave up {golfing} through the Iraq conflict to keep away from trying insensitive to the troops and their households. Barack Obama was excoriated for golfing after an American was beheaded by terrorists within the Center East.

Amongst those that recurrently assailed Mr. Obama {for golfing} was Mr. Trump — by one count, 27 times. “Are you able to consider that, with the entire issues and difficulties going through the U.S., President Obama spent the day enjoying golf,” Mr. Trump wrote in 2014. He was criticizing Mr. Obama {for golfing} after simply two instances of Ebola have been confirmed in the US. “If you’re president you type of say, like, ‘I’m going to type of give it up for a few years and I’m actually going to deal with the job,’” he stated on “Fox & Pals.”

Giving up, although, is just not Mr. Trump’s fashion, neither is public mourning. For the reason that outbreak, he has hosted company executives, truck drivers and governors on the White Home; toured factories producing medical tools; and celebrated docs, nurses and others responding to the virus. He welcomed to the White Home a number of sufferers who recovered. However he has organized no occasion for individuals who have misplaced family members, nor publicly dwelled on their grief.

He offers with the demise depend in medical phrases, making forecasts rapidly overtaken by actuality, then declaring that the brand new actuality is healthier than it may have been. In impact, he’s making a grim political argument, asserting success if the ultimate toll seems to be something lower than essentially the most excessive 2.2 million fatalities predicted if the nation had achieved nothing in any respect to reply.

On the White Home final week, Mr. Trump took credit score once more for limiting journey from China in early February. “We might have misplaced hundreds of thousands of lives if we didn’t,” he said. “Consider it: If we misplaced 100,000 lives, the minimal we’d have misplaced is a million-two, a million-three, a million-five perhaps. However take it to 1,000,000. So that might imply 10 occasions greater than we misplaced already.”

Dr. Deborah L. Birx, the White Home coronavirus response coordinator, amplified that concept on Sunday, pointing again to projections made at the end of March that the coronavirus would kill 100,000 to 240,000 People if lockdowns and social distancing measures have been imposed, and that as much as 2.2 million People would die if nothing was achieved.

“After we had that first briefing, we talked about 1.2 million to 2.four million, and 100,000 to 240,000 individuals succumbing to this extremely aggressive virus,” Dr. Birx stated. “These are the figures that we proceed to face by.”

Talking on “Fox Information Sunday,” Dr. Birx tried to sq. these numbers with rosier projections she later made on April 10, when aggressive social distancing measures gave the impression to be slowing the unfold of the virus and she or he embraced a brand new projection of 60,000 useless. “There are completely different fashions we’ve got been utilizing all alongside,” she stated.

The president’s critics stated he wouldn’t be capable of persuade voters this fall that he needs to be celebrated for a demise toll of 100,000 or extra simply because it may have been worse.

“It’s not the shifting of the aim posts on lack of life that hurts Trump as a lot because the lack of life itself,” stated Margie Omero, a Democratic pollster and principal on the agency GBAO. “The information are what fear individuals — majorities maintain Trump answerable for excessive demise tolls, excessive unemployment and a scarcity of testing. And much more now than a month in the past.”

Republicans, although, have argued that voters will blame China for not being extra forthcoming concerning the virus and see the remaining by the lens of their pre-existing views of Mr. Trump. “Largely, I believe this can wind up falling on our regular partisan traces,” stated Scott Jennings, a Republican operative. “If you happen to hate Trump, you gained’t discover something he did to be proper. If you happen to love Trump, one can find the media and Democratic governors at fault for overhyping and overreacting.”

If the nation’s losses have been on his thoughts this weekend, Mr. Trump did an excellent job of hiding it. His Twitter feed was stuffed with every part however that. He tweeted or retweeted messages falsely implying that “Psycho Joe Scarborough,” the MSNBC host, murdered an aide in 2001; suggesting that Speaker Nancy Pelosi has denture issues and likes to “drink booze on the job”; and declaring that former Legal professional Basic Jeff Classes “had no courage” and “ran for the hills” by recusing himself from the Russia investigation in 2017 as required by ethics guidelines.

Mr. Trump reposted eight tweets from John Ok. Stahl, a conservative who ran unsuccessfully for Congress in California in 2012. Mr. Stahl has a history of racist and sexist posts, particularly in opposition to black girls like Senator Kamala Harris of California (“Willie’s Ho”); Stacey Abrams, the previous candidate for governor of Georgia (“Shamu”); and Pleasure Reid, the MSNBC host (“butt ugly” and a “skank”).

Whereas the president indulged his political feuds, specialists have been warning that the pandemic was hardly over. One other 1,000 People or extra will most definitely die by Monday and one other 1,000 the day after that and one other 1,000 the day after that.

Imperial Faculty London predicted final week that the comfort of quarantine measures inspired by Mr. Trump “will lead to resurgence of transmission” and that “deaths over the following two-month interval may exceed present cumulative deaths by better than twofold” — in different phrases, one other 200,000 deaths by August.

Because the nation reaches this macabre milestone, that’s the grim fear: That it isn’t the final one. “To me,” Dr. Frieden stated, “an important query is are we going to do what we have to do to stop the following 100,000?”

Annie Karni and Chris Cameron contributed reporting.

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