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Who Has Any Credibility Left in America’s COVID-19 Reboot?

America is going to start over with COVID-19. But this time, who will Americans listen to? There's nobody left with any credibility.

It’s clear that despite the U.S. lockdown in March and April, and the rather successful flattening of the curve, Americans just didn’t “get it” that the coronavirus is still out there ready to spread.

Source: The Dispatch (“The Morning Dispatch” email), July 21, 2020

Since the middle of June, case counts have risen, hitting a record 75,080 new cases on July 16, while deaths have risen slightly. It’s not a good sign, and it is looking like America will need to start over with another lockdown. California Gov. Gavin Newsom has reimposed restrictions on bars, restaurants and gyms. Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp is locked in a political battle with Atlanta Mayor Keisha Lance Bottoms over sliding back to “Phase 1” of reopening.

New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo continued his morbid “victory tour” (New York has far more cases and deaths from COVID-19 than any other state), this time flying to Georgia on Monday to offer the city of Savannah help. Savannah’s mayor has publicly and repeatedly criticized Kemp over reopening plans.

Many large school districts have decided not to open in-person classes in the fall. The fate of sports is still up in the air. The fear is returning as the virus surges in more rural and suburban areas.

America is turning the clock back to March, complete with President Trump reinstating daily coronavirus briefings, starting Tuesday afternoon. The cynical political take (courtesy of The Washington Post) is that this is to help his campaign.

The move to revive the briefings, which were at times contentious, meandering and at odds with public health guidance, comes as Trump has struggled to turn the country’s attention away from the surging coronavirus and accompanying economic devastation months before voters head to the polls.

Trump wants a mulligan for his administration’s handling of the coronavirus crisis, which is crystal clear from polls that the public has placed on his shoulders, or to be more accurate, hung like a millstone around his neck.

I don’t think bringing back the daily briefings will help Trump’s campaign woes. If anything, it will hurt, as it will allow Joe Biden to keep hiding in plain sight, while Trump draws all the media attention.

One thing that’s going to become clearer is that Congress will have to extend, and expand, the stimulus programs that have kept our economy afloat (barely) since March. The New York Times reports that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy met with the president and Treasury Secretary Steve Mnuchin at the White House Monday to work on a new economic aid program.

The administration recently blocked Republican efforts to push forward funding for testing and tracing, and federal health agencies, which raised the ire of GOP lawmakers. The new legislative package is likely to cost another $1 trillion. Democrats want more funding for schools, and to help teachers who may be laid off in the replay of the virus this fall.

We will need another bailout, because we are nowhere near where the president and his economic advisors thought we’d be in the reopening plan. But we are exactly where the health advisors said we’d be if we ignored common sense precautions like social distancing and wearing masks. But these are the same health advisors who were okay with ignoring those precautions to protest the death of George Floyd, so who is going to listen to them now?

The entire world is watching America fumble our response. We are going to have to start over. I only hope President Trump acknowledges it in his briefing this afternoon. Speaking candidly and transparently may be the only way he can save his campaign–but knowing this president, he’s probably going to come in like he always does, guns blazing, talking about cures, and bleach, and shining light into your lungs.

America is going to start over with COVID-19. But this time, who will Americans listen to? There’s nobody left with any credibility.

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