‘Downright Dangerous’: Trump Moves to End Federal Support for Testing Sites as US Sees Record Daily Spike in Covid-19 Infections

Jerri-Lynn here. This testing fiasco reminds me of a dog we used to have: Winnie, short for Winfield, who when she was in trouble, ran and hid under a side chair, covering her eyes with her paws. She thought if she couldn’t see you, you couldn’t see her.

By Jake Johnson, staff writer at Common Dreams. Originally published at Common Dreams

As Covid-19 cases continue to spike across the U.S.—the nation on Wednesday saw its largest daily increase in confirmed new infections since the pandemic began—the Trump administration is reportedly planning to cut off federal funding for 13 coronavirus testing sites in five states at the end of the month, a move that is in keeping with president’s vow to slow screenings for the virus.

Politico reported Wednesday that “the federal government is ending its support for 13 drive-thru coronavirus testing sites on June 30, urging states to take over their operations—even as cases spike in several parts of the country.”

Seven of the sites set to lose federal funding and support are located in Texas, which has seen new Covid-19 cases and hospitalizations skyrocket during the reopening process—a spike that Texas Gov. Greg Abbott predicted last month in a private call that leaked to reporters. Texas was one of six states that saw a record increase in new infections on Wednesday.

The other testing sites that will lose federal support next week are located in Colorado, Pennsylvania, Illinois, and New Jersey.

Texas lawmakers reacted with alarm to the administration’s plan, which was reported days after President Donald Trump said during a weekend rally in Oklahoma that he ordered a slowdown in coronavirus testing. White House officials claimed Trump’s comments were made “in jest,” but the president on Tuesday doubled down and told reporters that he was not joking.

“Texas continues to set records for the number of new cases and hospitalizations and Harris County leads the state in number of confirmed cases,” Texas Democratic Reps. Sylvia Garcia, Al Green, Lizzie Pannill Fletcher, and Sheila Jackson Lee wrote in letters this week to U.S. Surgeon General Jerome Adams and to Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA) administrator Pete Gaynor.

“Without FEMA’s supplies, fiscal aid, and personnel, these sites may no longer be able to serve our communities,” the lawmakers warned. “FEMA’s removal in this moment would be harmful and irresponsible. We urgently ask you to extend FEMA’s presence at these testing sites through August 30, 2020.”

Rocky Vaz, the director of emergency management for Dallas, told Talking Points Memo that the city asked for an extension of federal support for two testing sites in Dallas County but was denied by the Trump administration.

“They told us very clearly that they are not going to extend it,” Vaz said. “We are not expecting it to continue beyond June 30, but things change.”

On several occasions in recent weeks, Trump and Vice President Mike Pence have falsely claimed that the recent surge in Covid-19 cases is the result of an expansion of testing rather than an actual spread of the virus. In an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week, Trump said coronavirus testing is “overrated” and “makes us look bad.”

Sen. Patty Murray (D-Wash.), ranking member of the Senate Health, Education, Labor, and Pensions Committee, demanded in a statement Wednesday that Trump immediately reverse the plan to end federal support for testing sites. On Sunday, as Common Dreams reported, Murray slammed the Trump administration for failing to spend $14 billion appropriated by Congress to expand coronavirus testing and tracing.

“The pandemic is clearly getting worse in states nationwide—and instead of trying harder to stop it, President Trump is apparently trying harder to hide it,” said Murray. “It’s completely unacceptable that while billions in federal dollars Congress passed to support testing sit unspent, this administration is closing testing sites in states where new Covid-19 cases are rapidly on the rise.”

Sen. Elizabeth Warren (D-Mass.) echoed Murray and urged Congress to intervene to ensure that the testing sites remain open and at full capacity.

“Donald Trump can’t run from the facts: Covid-19 cases are still increasing and Americans are still dying,” Warren tweeted. “This is unacceptable—and Congress must act immediately to counter this reckless and inhumane measure.”

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    1. Krystyn Podgajski

      >Why is he doing this?
      Dead people don’t vote. Neither do sick people. Neither do people who don’t want to get sick and die.

      >Doesn’t he want to get reelected?
      Yes, he does.

      But it could be he just has dementia.

    2. .Tom

      He’s obsessed with media reports about himself. So I accept what he says: the increasing numbers make him look bad. He’s reducing testing in order to manipulate the numbers so they decline.

      1. TimR

        If reducing testing is manipulation, why is ramping it up not also? What is the “natural level” of testing?

        1. .Tom

          Well, I suppose that if the president knew that certain communities that have lots of infection but aren’t being tested and directed resources to testing then in order to increase the numbers, yeah, that might be called manipulation.

          But so what? The important point is who will profit and who will lose from the president’s use of his power?

        2. Turing Test

          At any given moment there is a fixed number of infected people in the population. Reducing testing reduces the number of infected people being detected, while increasing it increases it. The former moves us AWAY from the truth, the latter TOWARD it.

          So no, they are clearly not opposite sides of the same coin.

          1. TimR

            To me, neither number is very meaningful unless you are controlling to sample an absolutely random segment of the public, that could represent the whole, within a margin of error.

            So yes, a larger sample might slightly improve the margin of error. But all that’s really needed is some minimum (2,000? I’m not a statistician, no idea) that could insure a relatively small margin of error.

            As long as you’re doing that, it would also be useful to know, of the positives, what percent were symptomatic, and were the symptoms mild, moderate, or bad.

            As it is, the information we’re given is fairly useless, and seems designed to support a narrative.

            1. m sam

              This is complete and utter nonsense. The kind of thing conservatives tell themselves when they go to bed at night so they can sleep.

              Data is corruptible. Margins of error are infinitesimal. Therefore testing isn’t needed. Meanwhile: cases increase, deaths increase. Also, New Zealand doesn’t exist, nor any other country that has brought the virus under control. It’s all lies anyway, just “narrative.”

              So yeah, keep telling yourself that a pandemic running out of control is less important then getting Trump reelected. What are a few hundred thousand deaths compared to that, after all? Nothing. You got yours, let the rest die. Makes me sick.

            2. ChrisPacific

              You are confusing measurement with statistics. Testing people considered to be at high risk, counting up the number of positive results, and using that as a lower bound for the number of infections in the population has nothing to do with sampling, hypotheses, or estimation. It’s measurement, plain and simple.

              It’s also not a sampling problem because the act of measuring has a direct effect on the infected population over time. Once somebody is diagnosed with COVID-19 they can be treated, quarantined so they don’t infect others etc. This reduces the spread of the disease in the community. That’s the whole point. There is no ‘accurate’ number because the number depends on the testing and treatment regime and the goal of that is to drive the number as close as possible to zero. If you wanted to model it statistically you’d have to frame it as a stochastic control system. In that framing, you’d ask which controls are most useful, and how successful they are at driving the system toward the desired result. Trump proposing to remove one of the most effective controls and somehow expecting an improvement as a result flies in the face of all logic and common sense.

        3. marym

          Ramping up testing isn’t manipulation if you actually want to know how far the spread is and where mitigation measures are needed. Here’s a general explanations of how to determine whether testing is sufficient. Others may have more expertise to comment,


          If a positivity rate is too high, that may indicate that the state is only testing the sickest patients who seek medical attention, and is not casting a wide enough net to know how much of the virus is spreading within its communities. A low rate of positivity in testing data can be seen as a sign that a state has sufficient testing capacity for the size of their outbreak and is testing enough of its population to make informed decisions about reopening.

        4. Grayce

          Reducing testing is covering up the the truth. Ramping up testing is discovering the whole truth.

        5. Phacops

          Perhaps rather than a fact-free statement you can make a supportable suggestion.

          Please use the binomial distribution for the level of detection of infected individuals within the population of interest. This is old-hat applied statistics.

        6. Darius

          Why have science? Why know more? We’re better off in the dark? If we did what South Korea was doing, we’d be testing orders of magnitude more people.

          I think Trump has calculated that we can hunker down and those most affected by COVID-19 aren’t going to vote for him anyway. The media already is moving on since most people affected are people who don’t matter and can be ignored.

        7. Tom Bradford

          Testing has two purposes: community and personal.

          With a known and understood virus, testing a random proportion of the population is sufficient to extrapolate the likely levels of infection in the community as a whole. What that proportion of the population is depends on the ‘official’ confidence in the accuracy of the extrapolation. However it is also necessary that the proportion tested be genuinely random – only testing those who come forward because they fear they have the virus distorts the results in this regard.

          However, CV-19 is new and not well understood. Hence the larger the sample the better the levels of community transmission, particularly as to specific groups based on age, gender, etc. can be predicted.

          At the purely personal level the availability of a test can resolve fears that one might have ‘caught’ the virus and allow appropriate steps for treatment, isolation etc. to be taken. In this regard the more testing that is available the greater the meeting of this need, with the consequent ‘fighting’ of the spread being promoted at the individual level.

          Hence reducing testing is counter-productive (and foolish) at both levels.

      2. Medbh

        The positive test numbers may decline for a while, but that doesn’t let him escape from the climbing hospitalization numbers and later deaths. I could see him playing this kind of game if it was a week or two before the election, but this behavior makes no sense. The consequences will come faster than the bad news he’s trying to avoid. Overrun hospitals and mobile morgues are a far worse look, and harder to hide too.

        1. jsn

          Fast, heuristic thinking, which is Trumps metier, can’t deal with systemic ideas like logarithmic growth.

          It isn’t intuitive from the lifetime of manipulation that is the fruit of his heuristic talent, so it isn’t imaginable.

          Most of the high positions in our politics and finance are filled by similar manipulators, hope lies in removing them from power.

    3. jackiebass

      I honestly believe he doesn’t want to get reelected. He continues to say and do things that hurt him and the country. He has alienated so many different groups. If he thinks there are huge numbers of his supporters that remain silent, he is delusional. His only hopes are a very low turnout and voters his still able to con people. I’m 79 years old and have never seen a president act like Trump. Even though few in numbers there are declared republicans working agains his reelection. I watch CSPAN call in program every day. It gives you a good picture of the American public. It isn’t pretty. If Trump loses he will have big time legal problems. NYS will prosecute Trump and some family members once he is out of the White House. Trump has heaped shame on the office of the president and ruined our reputation around the world. History won’t treat Trump well.

      1. lyman alpha blob

        Well the US reputation was pretty well ruined before Trump came along. Things like ‘we came, we saw, he died’, turning the entire Middle East into a perpetual battlefield, pushing NATO to encroach on Russia’s borders, fomenting coups in Ukraine, Honduras,etc, etc and of course the massive migrations of people caused by the aforementioned US depredations made the US into a loose cannon in the eyes of the rest of the world way before Trump.

        But I share your theory that he doesn’t really want to get re-elected. I think the only thing making him try at all is Biden as the presumptive nominee because of his ties to Obama, because Trump takes the insults Obama heaped on him years ago at one of those DC backslappers personally. I think he was surprised to win in the first place, but once he did, he figured he might as well stick it to Barry. And based on the way he insulted everybody on twitter, my personal theory is that if Sanders were the nominee, Trump wouldn’t put up much of a fight at all. I didn’t see the same animosity from Trump toward sanders that he showed for pretty much everybody else. He may throw out the occasional ‘crazy Bernie’ but I just don’t feel the vitriol behind it that I do when he talks about Pelosi, Obama and even the Bush family.

        Maybe that’s my own Sanders bias showing. How about making him the Dem nominee to see if my theory is true!

      2. lyman alpha blob

        My longer comment seems to have offended skynet, but while I believe the US reputation was ruined long before Trump came along (blowing up the Middle east, various coups, breaking deals to encircle Russia, etc) I do share your theory that Trump doesn’t really want to get elected. Biden is the only thing making him put up a fight at all because of his ties to Obama, whom Trump still despises after being insulted by Barry at one of those DC backslappers years ago.

        If Sanders were the nominee instead of Biden, I think Trump wouldn’t mind losing at all – I don’t think he ever expected to win in the first place in 2016 and I don’t see the personal animosity toward Sanders that Trump shows for most other DC pols.

        1. cnchal

          > . . . I do share your theory that Trump doesn’t really want to get elected.

          Get a grip. Seriously, Trump wants to lose?

          My theory is Trump is using chaos as a tactic. Not testing adds to the chaos and Krystyn in a comment above nails a host of plausible reasons to stop testing.

          1. Redlife2017

            I completely agree. It is a tactic and he learned it from the best…Roy Cohn 101:

            1) Never admit you’re wrong. 2) If they attack you, counterattack viciously. 3) When you’re in trouble, distract and divert attention.

            The third tactic very much is about sowing confusion / creating chaos.

            It is an outlier in his experience that his 3 base tactics are not working all that well outside of his base. But that doesn’t mean it won’t work again at some point before the election. If enough chaos ensues, who knows what will happen. He will surf it. The question is, will he go under with it or come out on the beach with a smile.

          2. Krystyn Podgajski

            The chaos theory is plausible. In a time of chaos people will be liess likely to try something new, like switching presidents.

            1. cnchal

              A raging corona crisis is likely to lead to voter supression. The numbers are bad and getting badder faster in those states that opened weeks ago. Trump’s pledge to never close will bite him in the ass. I don’t really see much choice, at some point, the number of infected and sick become so large, it has to be done again.

              Trump’s defiance to anyone near him by not wearing a mask, all by itself, contributes to the spread of the virus, and the example he sets, sets in motion outcomes randomly distributed that will lead to people becoming ill and dying from this. Bizarre behaviour from any person, but coming from the President, WTF? People around him catching it, there to supposedely serve and protect him, double WTF? Like he’s playing a game with the virus.

        2. KLG

          Indeed. Trump never really thought he would get elected in the first place. The possibility probably dawned on him in mid-October 2016. Then he went all-in and the rest is history, so to speak. Biden is an extension of the Barack Obama who was merciless to Trump at that DC snarkfest in 2011. Trump can be expected run to the left for the next 4 months and steal Biden’s pale lightning and unheard thunder. Mnuchin is already making such noise even though they don’t mean it. And he will win. Again. Just for spite.

          1. neo-realist

            How is Trump running left when he is cutting covid-19 test funding? How is he running left when his administration is not reviving unemployment insurance assistance for people who have been knocked out of the workforce due covid-19? How is it left when the administration promises to raise military spending to 55% of the budget in FT2021?

            Trump may talk more out of the left side of his mouth rather than both sides, but that’s about all the left we are going to see from him.

            1. KLG

              Please see today’s Water Cooler @ Trump R(2). Look for a second, larger dose of CARES and an executive order covering everyone with the virus through Medicare, August or September. Maybe Medicaid to make it somewhat less sticky. And all Pelosi Schumer Clinton Obama & Biden LLC will do is spit and sputter with TDS, along with the rest of the Resistance(TM). They certainly will be in no position to resist this…

            2. Aumua

              I’m sorry, but Trump is not going to run to the left IMHO. This notion is some combination of hopeful fantasy and apologetics, depending on who is saying it. He is right wing all the way. He will continue to do as little as possible to demonstrate caring.

    4. Jack

      Is it just possible that the few adults he has left in the room have decided to just let him go? A washing of hands?

  1. stefan

    Welcome to “Dumb as I wanna be” America. The baggage claim area is up where the sun don’t shine.

  2. Maurice

    I can sort of understand his reasoning. He wants to control the news flow.
    If I look at my country, the Netherlands, the last few months it was all about Covid-19. But none of my close relatives or friends have had it, and I’ve heard of only two people who did, they both recovered. So if Covid-19 had not been so extensively covered, I wouldn’t even have been aware of its existence. And to proof that point, I’ve read the extra death rate of Covid-19 was more or less comparable with the very heavy influence season of 2018/2019. Well, until now I had not even noticed that year had been so bad.
    So, if the Covid-19 cases are not really hitting your constituencies, I can imagine that you don’t want them to read continual headlines about it.
    I don’t say it is a good idea. I do think that the lock down measures our country took were necessary to control Covid-19, and those measures were only possible thanks to the heavy reporting in the media. And hiding such info from your population makes them mistrust the government, which makes governing a lot harder to do.
    But if you don’t care about the consequences for the population or your country but are only focused on what is good for you, yes, I can imagine you take this step.
    The real shame is of course that a person like this gets voted into office.

    1. John Wright

      The real shame is the candidates on offer from BOTH USA political parties.

      Trump was elected because the Democrats had a candidate, in HRC, who was quite acceptable to the USA power structure and assumed, by the DNC, acceptable enough to USA voters.

      Would a President HRC have inflamed Russia via the Ukraine or Syria, pushed through more labor undercutting trade bills and further propped up the USA financial sector?

      TINGA = There Is No Good Alternative

    2. Aumua

      And to proof that point, I’ve read the extra death rate of Covid-19 was more or less comparable with the very heavy influence season of 2018/2019.


      If you scroll down towards the bottom where the z-scores for excess deaths are you will find that the Netherlands spiked significantly higher than the 2018 spike. So hopefully moving forward you will stop repeating that little fiction at least. Although I’m not counting on it or anything.

  3. thoughtfulperson

    These days it must be hard to write for the onion, when fact based news has to report on stories like this!

  4. Mikel

    He doesn’t come up with these ideas by himself nor does he implement any of his insanity by himself.
    That he thinks this is a winning electoral strategy is reflection of the conversations he sits around has with others with the same mindset, the same worship of profit over people. It permeates through this global economic system and it will be the end of many the world over.

    1. Grayce

      Economic systems that are somehow taken as being more important than people become like a game or sporting event in which the players want to score the biggest total number right then. Like a football player willing to inject cortisone into his knees in order to finish a single game, or a basketball player who jumps with a broken ankle to complete the moment, many decisions are short-sighted.

    2. cnchal

      > . . . That he thinks this is a winning electoral strategy is reflection of the conversations he sits around has with others with the same mindset . . .

      His main conversation is with a mirror. Everything else is a distraction.

    3. tegnost

      Yep, from the mark ames tweet in links…
      “Millions of New Yorkers can’t pay rent, yet Cuomo is allowing eviction courts to reopen. The ruling class is paralyzed by corruption & its deranged ideology. They’re hoping markets will sort it all out—and when that fails, they’ll blame Russians & China”
      I’m numb at this point at the effort to paint trump as the sole talisman of american greed. The business class as a whole value the organism of wall st over the people of the country and the world.
      Joe Biden will fix nothing, and indeed probably thinks that nothing is broken except for decorum.
      As a washington resident I will point out that I haven’t heard much from the senator for boeing, and it surprises me a bit to see that the senator from boeing is on the committee overseeing pensions, but congress as another whole is in the biz of taking these “entitlements” away from the citizens. Look at Calpers. It only adds up as a scam to fleece pensioners. Any thoughts senator murray (D) boeing?
      Unrepentant greed is the order of the day, and carnival barker trump is exactly who we deserve and no amount of polity can cover up the rot. The cynic in me, which may or may not occupy my entire being, is thinking that senator murray, who as I pointed out I haven’t heard a peep from on any topic,must have stock in some testing companies…plenty of covid 19 grift in the wetern washington biotech sector. We are indeed poorly led by trump, as well as by an army of grifters, banksters, and lobbyists who are fully represented by the cuomos and murrays of the world. Covid won’t go away because as a country we are incapable of stopping it. Herd immunity is the course we are on and all the words are sound and fury, signifying nothing (h/t the bard of oxford mississippi)

    4. Ignacio

      Never underestimate the chances of a populist to be re-elected, no matter how dumb he looks, chaos inflates Trump sails. Beware the tricks.

      1. Redlife2017

        Yes, as I noted above (in a comment that is in mod, understandably!), his use of chaos is not something to just sit back and think – AHHH. What a fool! He couldn’t possibly be re-elected.

        I bounce around in my head between thinking he is f***ed or he will find a way to pull it out. And the amount of destruction in his (and Biden’s) path will be huge. The Democrats will will sink at least as low as Trump. It’s going to be gross. Everything we’ve hidden from ourselves is now out in the open. And if Trump loses… Well, 2024 could be quite the year. We will see something that will truly be from our subconsious. Sadly, it won’t be like this. The choice is already made…

        1. False Solace

          It’s a staggering testament to right-wing media and complicit Democrats that Trump has any chance at all.

          He left pandemic response up to the states to decide, constantly contradicted himself and his experts to confuse the public as much as possible, and did zero federal coordination of bidding for supplies or manufacturing. His hands are not clean — he’d fired his own pandemic team and cut CDC funding. The shutdowns when they happened were too loose and not enforced. Infection numbers never got low enough to justify reopening given the absence of tracing. Capacity for tracing was never built up — this alone made reopening homicidal. Emergency spending (it’s not “stimulus” when your economy is flatlining) was targeted entirely toward the billionaire class to make labor as desperate as possible. Followed by weeks of riots. What did I miss?

          I guess Trump killed a hundred thousand fewer people than Obama in the Middle East. But made up for it at home?

          If Trump toppled fewer governments or invaded fewer countries than his predecessors it’s due to incompetence not a lack of trying. Unless you think Bolivia and those mercenaries in Venezuela happened on their own. We still have troops in all the same countries. Would another term of Trump be worse than Biden? Well, I won’t vote for either one, but I do think that Trump without the fear of losing reelection will be a very different creature.

          Remember that a lot of Obama’s carnage happened in his second term.

          1. Redlife2017

            “I guess Trump killed a hundred thousand fewer people than Obama in the Middle East. But made up for it at home?”

            I had said to my familly in the months before the 2016 election that the choice was:

            Hillary Clinton: The River of Blood flows outside of the US
            Donald Trump: The River of Blood flows inside the US

            Now, obviously I didn’t realise that Covid-19 and the horrifying response he had would be the reality of that statement. His response has been horrifying to me and has endangered directly my family (much like Boris Johnson has directly endangered me and my immediate family in the UK). What he has and will unmask within the American psyche means that it will be VERY easy for a right wing dictator to come in at the 2024 election (sorry if I was a bit opaque on that point). Covid-19 will look like a sideshow. Democrats will not pull any of this back from the brink. Biden could get in and then what? He’s going to restore what? The Clinton/Bush/Obama years? He’ll die or be so obviously incapacitated that people will blatantly compare it to late stage western Roman Empire. It is a straight line to the kind of terror of that which lies beneath. Truly, it is the American equivilent of Jung’s Wotan postulation.

  5. Edward

    Trillions for the banks, $0 for testing. In theory there might be a valid reason to halt testing, such as the tests being unreliable, but I don’t hear such an explanation from the White House.

    Trump is probably a bit smarter then Winnie; it sounds like he is hoping to sweep his embarrassing COVID failure under the rug for the November elections. This might work with the FOX news people, but with others? If the voters fall for this they will be the ones analogous to Winnie. I think Trump is testing his idea that he can get away with shooting somebody.

    1. The Rev Kev

      Chomsky has gone past his use-by date and is suffering from Trump Derangement Syndrome. Trump himself is unimaginative, vain and ham-fisted. But I would argue that he is not as lethal to people as George Bush was and I would even argue that Trump has done less structural damage to America than Obama did. And as far as saying that the Sanders campaign was a raging success, well, he has a funny definition of success.

      1. RWood

        Hoho, I’ll see your dubya and raise you a clinker, a poppy and a raygun.

        Trump derangement syndrome (TDS) is a term for criticism or negative reactions to United States President Donald Trump that are perceived to be irrational, and have little regard towards Trump’s actual policy positions, or actions undertaken by his administration.[2] The term has mainly been used by Trump supporters to discredit criticism of his actions, as a way of reframing the discussion by suggesting that his opponents are incapable of accurately perceiving the world.

        1. Thomas Jennings

          I like Chomsky, but happen to agree with The Rev Kev. Stating Trump is the “worst criminal in history” is completely ahistorical. I mean it is simply ridiculous on it’s face and doesn’t stand up to even the slightest scrutiny.

          I mostly see the term TDS used among anti-imperialists/anti-war/anti-establishment people who are more interested in the truth than in the latest Russiagate conspiracy theory.

            1. flora

              adding: I thought Chomsky’s memory went back to W’s admin at the very least. All those new wars started… /s Has Chomsky spent an entire career focused on misdirecting readers where it counts? Interesting question.

        2. Aumua

          I don’t like the term TDS and it’s use for easy dismissal of a whole range of perspectives, and I’ve said as much here before. However… as much as I do like Chomsky (in fact I was able to audit his course at the U of A last year!), calling Trump the worst criminal in history is hyperbole at best and downright laughable at worst.

      2. flora

        argue that Trump has done less structural damage to America than Obama did

        No new shooting wars. No war fever again Russia. No TPP. No TPIP. Those are all pretty good things in my book compared to W and O and what her-turn-ness was proposing. He drives the neocons crazy. T’s not a great pres by any stretch of the imagination. But so far we’ve been spared even worse neoliberal and neocon predations than the last 30 years delivered us to. my 2 cents.

      3. Michael

        I agree with Rev Kev and flora. IMO the Dumpster is just a symptom of much greater disease. A Caligula. What makes him so hated is that he is a terrible liar and an extreme oaf. People need a competent suit to make them feel good about their extinction.

        Other war criminals such as Truman, Johnson, W, Obomber, and such have wreaked much more damage through wars, and in the case of Barry, co-opting Climate Control negotiations in Copenhagen, to support fossil fuel and double American oil production. Heck, the Dumpster has even managed to collapse oil production, although due to his easing of methane pollution millions of wells are now belching out that toxic substance (see Reuters) .


        Incidentally, IMO TDS is just a shorthand referring to the four years of the Russiagate nonsense. I was programmed to hate Russians as “Godless Communists”. Now I’ve learned they are much worse: Republicans!

        The Empire is collapsing. Enjoy the view.

      4. marym

        It will probably take some time to see the full picture of structural damage done by Trump-era deregulation, loss of career civil service workers, judicial appointments, cutting back public services, and trade wars; just as the full impact of privatization, off-shoring, and the hollowing out of government functions wasn’t always immediately obvious for prior administrations.

      5. m sam

        What’s the opposite of TDS? There certainly has to be something like it. Trump Apologist Syndrome? I’m no fan of either war criminals Obama or Bush, but “less structural damage?” It boggles the mind.

        Sure, “tear it all down.” But with right wingers ascendant, all I can say is, “you’ll be sorry.”

        1. d

          i wonder if the gop has really thought through the tear it all down thoughts [if you call them that] results? destruction will not end up well for any one. and especially their biggest bank rollers. when they figure it out, that ends the gop. course you would thing they are smart enough to figure that out….but conservatives tend to hate to change unless forced too

          1. m sam

            Well, it seems to me the gop (including the Trump wing) hasn’t focused on tearing down anything that would hurt their biggest bank rollers. And those it has (such as the “free trade” fundamentalists, and some neocons) have all gone over to the Democrat party.

            Also I don’t think conservatives hate change (it seems even the conservatives know all that “traditional values” stuff is just empty rhetoric). They only hate change that either hurts their bottom lines or (more importantly) gives victory to the other side. Any change that increases their bottom lines or hurts the other side they are particularly ravenous for.

            Besides, I wasn’t talking about the gop.

      6. Michael Fiorillo

        Trump is by far the worst: to think that he used a false pretext to overthrow a sovereign African country, leading to chaos, warlord-ism and slave markets!

        Oh, wait…

      7. ProNewerDeal

        Trump’s COVID response is horrible.

        But tbh lately I feel like all the presidents Reagan through Trump are an AIDS v Cancer v Ebola v Etc type of comparison, & have less passion for weighing their detailed atrocities.

        From reading history, I feel like the last actually net good/improved the nation President was LB Johnson, with the good Medicare/Clean Air Act/Civil Rights Act/Voting Rights Act/War On Poverty outweighing the evil Vietnam War.

        I feel as though most current people would deride me as a pony/unicorn-wanter with unrealistic policy grading perfect-the-enemy-of-the-good-maker. But if Doc & Marty gave me a Delorean ride to 1968 the Vietnam War & Civil Rights Protestors would probably deride me as low-expectation having Establishment-apologizing hack.

  6. spring texan

    Just as bad as reducing testing, the federal government is stopping research into needed treatments because of assumptions that a vaccine is near, insanely stupid: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/06/19/health/coronavirus-lung-treatment-funding.html

    the administration is backing away from the relatively modest funding it has provided so far for treatments that address the severe lung ailments [caused by COVID].

    The optimism about a vaccine is kind of nuts, but even if it were to happen quickly, treatments will still be needed. It’s heartbreaking.

    It’s no accident that the dexamethasone breakthrough was made elsewhere. Hope other countries will develop treatments but it’s heartbreaking that people who might be doing good work here cannot and detrimental to all.

  7. Kris Alman

    To the extent that you increase testing, you see more cases, that is true. We all became armchair statisticians from the beginning when we were rightly told the incidence and prevalence were much higher than what was measured and reported. Gotta do more tests!!!

    In that regard, it’s hard to compare old data to new data. But it’s essential for contact tracing.

    The HUGE challenge is asymptomatic and mildly symptomatic cases and the reality that influenza and common colds are circulating as well. How do we sort all this out? Also, we have false positive and false negative tests.

    Then there’s the problem of immunity. There’s no consensus on how many people sero-covert and what that means for long-term immunity.

    The current data still suggests that the elderly and people with pre-existing conditions are most likely to suffer serious consequences of Covid and die. Individuals and communities have to be prepared to deal with that with advance life directives and with accurate inventory of ICU beds, ventilators, PPE and staffing. And other supports as well, such as dexamethasone (or other steroid availability), IV bags, etc.

    This much we know. This virus is killing vulnerable people, which the elite don’t care about.

    As to understanding and controlling this virus, there’s a lot we don’t know.

    So let’s here it from Donald Rumsfeld:
    “…as we know, there are known knowns; there are things we know we know. We also know there are known unknowns; that is to say we know there are some things we do not know. But there are also unknown unknowns—the ones we don’t know we don’t know. And if one looks throughout the history of our country and other free countries, it is the latter category that tend to be the difficult ones.”

  8. Ashburn

    I believe Chomsky had climate change, and the narrow window to mitigate its worst effects, in mind when he made this statement. He made a similar comment back in April 2017 referring to the Republican Party as “the most dangerous organization in history“ for the same reasons.

  9. sam

    The lack of testing in January and February was criminally negligent and (along with poor case tracking) undoubtedly a critical factor in our failure to control the disease along the lines of S Korea. But, really, what’s the point of testing when cases are in the millions? There’s a lot of COVID around, we know that. Testing (even lots and lots of testing) is unlikely to tell us more unless either everyone is tested or testing is limited to a representative sample of the population. Considering that most positives are asympotomatic anyway maybe it would be more productive to track hospital admissions as a measure of penetration and resource utilization.

    1. Redlife2017

      One aspect if it is out of control is that you can plan. And I mean for how many body bags, if you need excess morgue capacity, if you need mass graves. If it’s not completely out of control, then you can plan on how to convert hospitals (or set-up Covid-19 specific hospitals like China) as there is a lead time with Covid-19. The percentages are relatively stable on how many go to hospital. Also,you can figure out if mostly young people are getting it, then they will definately go to hospital, but may not die (less body bags to pre-order).

      Sorry for being rather blunt. But it is still useful information.

    2. False Solace

      If your plan is to kill 3 million people, you’re correct — there’s no point in testing.

      If you care about fewer deaths, you need to control the disease. You can’t control the disease if you’re blind. You need to know where it is, who’s infected, and who’s exposed. Test, trace, and isolate. Testing comes first.

      The whole point of the shutdowns was to get infection numbers low enough that TTI would work. That front has seen multiple layers of overlapping failure.

      Hospital admissions in the US will be less useful than elsewhere. In NY they found the number of deaths at home skyrocketed during the worst part of the pandemic. More people than ever don’t have insurance and will avoid the hospital at all costs. Besides that, hospital admissions are a lagging indicator. By the time they tick up, it’s too late.

      1. flora

        If only the US had a first-world, single-payer health care system, instead of balkanized medical private profit centers. Canada’s system is doing much better than the US dealing with Covid.

        1. rps

          Canada: Population est: 37,73,594. About 0.99 daily tests per thousand people (as of 23 June 2020). 64.76 tests per 1000. Total tests to date: 2,518,650- less than 6.7% of population tested.

          USA: Population est: 330,978,805. About 1.66 daily tests per thousand people (as of 23 June 2020). 83.24 tests per 1000. Total tests to date: 30,110,061 about 9.1% of population tested

          1. d

            so how many have died in Canada vs US?..and how many of these tests are for the same people?

              1. rps

                Yes, the healthcare aka diseasecare industry has a stranglehold on Congress. There’s medicaid- which was a great healthcare system until it was sliced and diced by hopey changey universal care Obama and his friendly insurance CEO’s. There’s medicare for the 65 and older plus disability population. There’s the Emergency Medical Treatment & Labor Act (EMTALA) to ensure public access to emergency services regardless of ability to pay(…) Hospitals are required to provide stabilizing treatment for patients with EMCs. If a hospital is unable to stabilize a patient within its capability, or if the patient requests, an appropriate transfer should be implemented. The rest’ve us good luck and stay healthy.

                IMO, comparing Canada v. USA cases/deaths, city population density and international airports are also factors since Covid 19 originated abroad. Atlanta, Los Angeles, O’Hare, Dallas, Denver, JFK, SanFran, Seattle, McCarran and Orlando international airports rank higher in passenger travel than Toronto at #32. Plus NYC to date is the epicenter of the USA. No other US city has confirmed cases and death totals like NYC. Until hindsight stats are available, my guess is NYC #’s are due to: international business hub, international destination, and high density population

          2. Tom Bradford

            New Zealand with a health system like Canada’s managed 22 deaths in a population of 5,000,000 and eradicated CV-19 from the general population a month ago. Although it still has a few new cases ticking up these are entirely among returnees in compulsory quarantine at the border.

            As at the beginning of this week it has a testing rate of 62/1,000 – total tested 305,365 (6%) with an infection rate of 0.4%.


            Which suggests that a) a hard lockdown, and b) a health service that responded effectively to the initial community transmission knocked the initial infection back while testing etc. capacity was built up, making it more effective at lower rates than the US is now effecting.

      2. Felix_47

        A lot of what you say is true if we were doing contact tracing etc. However, the RNA test has a significant false negative rate based on a number of factors to include how the swab is swept and the transport etc. The Chinese have been using CT scans of the lungs with negative tests and counting and treating those as Corona infected. As you are aware the antibody test to see if you were infected already and recovered is about as good as flipping a quarter but more expensive. One thing we know is that if universal mask wear was legally required as in Japan that the infection rate would be 1/12 of what it is. And we knew that in February and the citizenry was told over and over that this was not transmitted by nose or mouth and all they had to do was wash their hands over and over. Here in Germany if someone goes into a store without a mask the store owner is subject to a 3000 Euro fine. Everone wears a mask and every store around here has disinfectant and paper towels at the entrance for the hands. The failure was not not having tests. The failure was saying masks don”t help and now saying that they were afraid that if the citizenry was told to get masks there would not be enough for the health workers. It was a failure of imagination. The government and the CDC could have said masks are needed, masks will essentially stop the epidemic if everyone wears one (by dropping the reproduction rate below 1) and because of 30 years of neoliberalism we managed to outsource all PPE production to China or the global south……so…..you all can go home and make your own multilayered masks because if you are caught without one in public it will cost you $3000 and if you get Corona you might die and if you have it and spread it to Aunt Emma she might die. It would have been a lot cheaper than what we are doing. Testing masses of people is solving little and making a lot of unscrupulous entrepreneurs and doctors very rich. Some of these places are charging several thousand dollars for a test since the government is apparently paying for them. They have signs up recruiting passers by. The test should be no more than 100 dollars.

  10. Ping

    Now a last straw with Trump withdrawing federal support for testing, incompetent to begin with, I have offered to contribute personal information to my paper the Arizona Daily Star (they often print my LTE) about the impact to families whose loved ones are in locked-down facilities due to dementia and poor health .

    My own experience mirrors AZ Star’s today’s LTE writer describing Trumps colossal failure of leadership (with AZ Gov Ducey complicit sycophant) that robbed her of time with her father during his last weeks in assisted living and now her mother suffering from dementia is alone and frightened without family to comfort her.

    Because testing has been practically unavailable, rapid result or otherwise (you know, the kind White House Administration gets) I have not been able to visit my mother for over 4 months in a lock-down facility. Staff arranges for me to speak with her on the phone once a week, and even with advance dementia, she is aware no one has visited her. Phone calls are better than nothing but there is no comparison to personal visit especially when a resident is often non-verbal. Residents often confuse Skype or FaceTime with television so don’t make the connection.

    It is impossible to explain there is a pandemic (and management has advised that incomprehensible information would only produce resident anxiety) and painful to think our devoted mother could think she is abandoned by her family and we don’t care enough to visit.

    Now the ******** ********* ******** we have for a president is removing federal support for testing making America even greater.

    I know anyone who has a loved one in a medical lock down facility should be able to “connect the dots” that the buck stops with a malignant narcissist.

    1. Arizona Slim

      Fellow Tucsonan here.

      I never thought I’d say this so soon after my mother’s death, but I’m glad she died last year. I don’t think I’d be able to handle what you’re going through, Ping.

  11. rps

    HHS is increasing sites from the original 41 to thousands of sites including pharmacy sites. The 13 sites are part of the antiquated early testing system. FEMA’s role in the Covid 19 pandemic- was to provide initial crisis support and assistance to the CDC and HHS to setup and facilitate federal and state operational measures and functional stability.

    Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House’s coronavirus testing chief, said in a statement that “The federal government is not ending funding or support for COVID-19 testing sites.”

    “On the contrary, we have expanded from the original 41 sites to over 600 in 48 states and the District of Columbia in the federal bundled payment program to pharmacies, and enabled over 1400 additional pharmacy sites through regulatory flexibility empowering pharmacists and facilitating billing and reimbursement,” added Giroir. “In addition, 93% of all Federally Qualified Health Centers (FQHCs) offer COVID-19 testing; thousands of sites. HHS will continue to increase testing capacity overall, and make it more accessible especially to underserved communities.”

    Giroir argued that the the 13 testing sites are part of an “antiquated” early testing system, adding that the upcoming plan to host testing sites in local pharmacies is “more efficient.”

    “All 13 sites were provided an extra 30 days from the original transition date in May, and I personally spoke with Governors from all 5 states involved, and/or their leadership designees, who agreed that it was the appropriate time to transition out of the original 13 sites and into the thousands of new testing options,” Giroir said.

    IMO, Trump’s point was the USA does more testing than the rest of the world (excluding Russia which starting testing much later than USA). Thus, other countries claim fewer cases/deaths not because there’s lower infection rates, but due to the restrictions on testing in those countries (see here). Whereas, the USA allows everyone to get tested with or without symptoms. Instead of the world questioning why the high numbers in the USA, Trump is pointing out the fact the world- for the most part has failed their citizens and not the other way around

    1. False Solace

      Re: “Whereas, the USA allows everyone to get tested with or without symptoms”

      Far from true, at least in AZ which is a major hotspot. From Water Cooler 6/23. Read the Twitter thread.

      Getting tested in AZ, a thread:

      Here’s a story of an ongoing personal journey of mine — that makes it clear to me the vastness of the COVID spread across Phoenix is still so little understood:

      I have sought a COVID test after being around crowds the last week+ — with the desire to keep one’s own family safe.

      — Vaughn Hillyard (@VaughnHillyard) June 20, 2020

      Orange County, FL: Cars started lining up at 2:30 AM. I wonder how many people have the ability to do that.

      1. rps

        Thanks for the correction. Testing requirements are determined at the State level per Governors(s) executive orders. My state has unrestricted Covid 19 testing. I’d say Arizona’s Governor Doug Ducey dropped the ball with his Covid 19 executive orders and policies.

    2. Ping

      “The USA allows everyone to get tested with or without symptoms……”

      Absolutely preposterous claim. There is no readily available testing in Arizona (no doubt not unique) without jumping thru hoops or specific criteria, or waiting in hours long line in 100+ degree heat. No rapid result capability thus the 10’s of thousands of those in medical lock-down facilities cannot receive comfort of family. For months I have waited for rapid result test available so I could visit my mother and many others are deprived of precious last weeks with loved ones.

      Testing has been pathetic and botched. Typical of malignant narcissism, the WH seems to take great pleasure in confusion with a fountain of faulty information.

      1. rps

        Truly sorry to read about your frustration and lack of testing facilities. IMHO, it wasn’t the WH who failed Arizona but the Governor and mayors. Since March each state’s health department under the direction of the Governor, should’ve implemented policies to protect their citizens with testing facilities to meet population needs. From what you’ve said, Arizona mayors and Governor Ducey‘s Covid 19 policies and lack of foresight or coordination failed the state of Arizona. I live in a very high density area with a pro-active Governor (he’s made his fair share of mistakes) who setup hundreds of testing sites since March into June. Last week, I was the 3rd car in line for Covid 19 testing, results the next day. I hope you’ll see your mother very soon

        1. marym

          One problem, even in states where governors have been working diligently to implement testing, is a nationwide shortage of supplies and lack of federal coordination.


          1. rps

            There’s a worldwide shortage of PPE due to the pandemic. Unfortunately, past presidents allowed many PPE manufacturers to move offshore to China as did other countries. Not one country was prepared in the World for a brand new communicable viral disease that turned quickly into a pandemic.

            1. d

              and the current one through away the plan that we did have because he didnt the like president that created it. course he also eliminated the budget the department that was set up to deal with pandemics, some thing about businessmen dont like departments that arent needed.

            2. Felix_47

              You can make your own mask. Not hard. Don”t need to sew. Look on Youtube. If everyone wore a mask…..80% of the population even we would reduce the number of cases to 12% of what we have. Tests are pointless unless there is a medical reason. Masks should be universal until a vaccine is developed. Had we done that from the start no lockdown would have been needed. Japan has a very low rate and had not lockdown but everyone has a mask. And they are easy to make so the fact the neoliberals sent all the PPE production to China is not an excuse.

        2. Ping

          Thank you for regards. Roads lead back to Rome with Arizona’s condition also a product of a White House that chooses to make not wearing a mask or observing social distance a political statement of strength and “freedom” as evidenced by his recent visits here (and elsewhere) spewing all kind of nonsense, re-enforcing his followers worst instincts. As I recall Trump was quick to shift all responsibility to Governors when Covid started to explode but happy to undermine the stricter Governors and local authorities with mixed messages and misinformation.

          As of today, AZ Gov Ducey, with his finger to the political wind, made clear, unambiguous statements about Arizona’s condition and the importance of following protocols. He arrived to the news conference with a mask and applied hand sanitizer.

    3. The Historian

      The US may do the most tests simply because it has a bigger population, but it ranks below other countries on the percentage of its population that it tests.


      I don’t see why you feel the need to tell us ‘what Trump meant’ – I think he made it pretty clear in his speech and his tweet – no interpretation needed.

      Thanks to False Solace and Ping for pointing out that no, not everyone who wants to be tested, can be. In Idaho there is a shortage of tests so that only those with symptom and those in high risk categories can be tested, and I would bet that is the same in other states, no matter what the politicians say.

      1. rps

        I don’t see why you feel the need to tell us ‘what Trump meant’

        Its called the comment section. Reviewing your comments, phrases such as: I think, I would bet, I don’t see why, etc… expresses your opinion as well. IMO is an acronym for “In my opinion”.

          1. rps

            Circumstantial evidence is occasionally very convincing, as when you find a trout in the milk

    4. allan

      Adm. Brett Giroir, the White House’s coronavirus testing chief, is not to be trusted.
      I posted this a couple of days ago:

      Supplies Sent To Labs By Trump Administration To Boost Testing Are Not Always Helpful

      [reporter describes horror show with faulty, hazardous or improperly packaged testing materials being shipped to the states]

      [NPR REPORTER]: I asked Adm. Brett Giroir about the swab problems. He’s the Trump administration’s testing czar. And he basically dismissed their complaints as kind of bellyaching.

      BRETT GIROIR: Now, yes, there are some labs that say, I would prefer a different type of swab. We are not in a menu situation where everyone can have filet mignon on the menu. You’re going to have to have the chicken dish or the salmon because we do not have all of a single type of swab. If you want the custom flocked swab from Italy, you’re not going to get that because, No. 1, there’s not enough to go around. …

      Where “filet mignon” means an individually wrapped swab that isn’t going to get contaminated
      with biomaterial from the tester’s previous patients.

  12. IMOR

    rps, thanks for the post. A couple hours earlier (if avail then) and it might have obviated some of the harsher comments and exchanges above. Preserving a drive-through option via some of those health center and pharmacy testing locations would be helpful. There was talk above about Presidential power over spending. At the level involved here, if the funds were appropriated and allocated by Congress for this purpose, the Prez and even the relevant agency heads can pound sand: they do not get to impound funds. (W. never got this either.)

      1. rps

        “I believe that I have created a lot of cognitive dissonance in the minds of people who are comfortable with stereotypes.” Hillary Clinton

  13. Aumua

    What I would really like to see next to positive test numbers is how many people are actually sick. Cause I mean if everyone has it, and no one is sick then what does that tell you? I’m not saying that is the case here, just that this is a nagging doubt in the back of my head about all this, and I would love to be able to pin it down.

  14. Sy Krass

    Donald Trump I have two questions to ask you, at level of hell will you burn at and for how long?

  15. ChrisPacific

    I do wonder what his plan is for COVID deaths, which is a statistic that’s less easily gamed than positive test results. Refrigerated trucks doing neighborhood rounds in the small hours of the morning, perhaps?

  16. Bob


    Perhaps this is a dated, But I thought an article of faith was that “If you can’t measure it, You can’t manage it.”

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