340,000 Americans Dead From COVID-19 – And Trump’s Malignant Narcissism
Two diseases are responsible for the deaths of more than 340,000 Americans in 2020. One is COVID-19. The other is Donald Trump’s malignant narcissism.
A lengthy year-end report in the New York Times recounts numerous instances of how Trump’s singular focus on himself and reelection led to decisions that exacerbated the coronavirus pandemic, causing thousands and thousands of additional deaths that could have been avoided. The article is the product of interviews with more than two dozen current and former administration officials and others in contact with the White House. Many of the accounts have long been suspected. Others are new and jaw-dropping.
The Times writes: “Throughout late summer and fall, in the heat of a re-election campaign that he would go on to lose, and in the face of mounting evidence of a surge in infections and deaths far worse than in the spring, Mr. Trump’s management of the crisis — unsteady, unscientific and colored by politics all year — was in effect reduced to a single question: What would it mean for him?”
In an Aug. 19. meeting in the Oval Office, the Times reports that Trump became enraged at son-in-law/senior adviser Jared Kushner over the issue of testing. “You’re killing me! This whole thing is! We’ve got all the damn cases,” Mr. Trump yelled at Kushner, whom he had assigned to the Operation Warp Speed effort. “I want to do what Mexico does. They don’t give you a test till you get to the emergency room and you’re vomiting.” Trump’s problem with testing: he felt that increased testing would drive up the number of confirmed cases and make him look bad.
During preparations for the first debate with Joe Biden, Trump again railed against Kushner. “I’m going to lose and it’s going to be your fault, because of the testing.”
In August Trump also was furious with Dr. Francis Collins, head of the National Institutes of Health, because Collins had informed him that it would be days before the government could give emergency approval for the use of convalescent plasma as a COVID-19 treatment. That meant Trump could not tout the treatment as a victory at the upcoming Republican National Convention. His anger was based on his feeling that the government’s top doctors and scientists were engaged in a conspiracy to undermine him. “They’re Democrats! They’re against me!” he said, “They want to wait!”
Efforts by his aides, including Kushner and Hope Hicks, to persuade him to promote mask wearing, among the simplest and most effective ways to curb the spread of the disease, were derailed. While they felt it was a “no-brainer,” Trump was convinced that his political base would rebel against the idea as an infringement on their personal freedom.
He was reinforced by Chief of Staff Mark Meadows and adviser Stephen Miller, who told Trump the politics of mask wearing would be devastating. Both Meadows and Miller, who like their boss were rarely seen wearing a mask, ultimately contracted coronavirus.
The Times writes, “Trump’s unwillingness to put aside his political self-centeredness as Americans died by the thousands each day or to embrace the steps necessary to deal with the crisis remain confounding even to some administration officials.” “Making masks a culture war issue was the dumbest thing imaginable,” one former senior adviser said.
The coronavirus death count also has been influenced by the sycophants brought into the White House Coronavirus Task Force, namely Dr. Scott Atlas. While he has no training or experience with infectious diseases, Atlas quickly became a Trump favorite by being willing to go on television news programs and say what Trump wanted to hear about the pandemic.
Inside the White House, however, it was a different story. During a meeting in early fall, Atlas asserted that college students were at no risk from the virus. We should let them go back to school, he said. It’s not a problem.
Dr. Deborah Birx, who at that point still had some influence within the task force, exploded. “What aspect of the fact that you can be asymptomatic and still spread it do you not understand?” she demanded. “You might not die, but you can give it to somebody who can die from it.”
“Your strategy is literally going to cost us lives,” she yelled at Atlas. Sure enough, thousands of cases of coronavirus have been attributed to college students returning home from their campuses on break and infecting family members and others in the their hometown communities.