It has been a crazy year. The election is coming. Trump seems to be making some strange political moves. Ignoring the pandemic. Cutting military health spending. Hiring wacky doctors from Fox News. Strange times.
The Trump administration approved an oil leasing program for the Arctic National Wildlife Refuge. This approval opens up the pristine 19-million-acre wilderness to drilling for the first time. Trump’s Interior Department completed its required reviews. This allows the government to auction off leases to Trump cronies. His oil and gas friends seek to drill inside the refuge’s beautiful coastal plain. The Refuge protects pristine landscapes and wildlife. Why drill when we have enough gas and oil and need alternatives energy sources?
Also, Trump is cutting health care for military members. Defense Secretary Mike Esper’s budget cuts health care services provided to veterans and active service members. Trump proposes slashing military health care by $2.2 billion. An internal Pentagon report finds that not enough mental health care is being provided to its troops. Defense officials state this reduction will effectively gut the Pentagon’s health care system during a nationwide pandemic.
A Sinking Ship
Meanwhile, Trump ignores the real crisis. The U.S. death toll from the coronavirus pandemic passed 170,000. The U.S. is still averaging 50,000 new cases per day. These numbers are low since Texas, Arizona, and Florida intentionally slowed down testing. The nation’s total number of cases surpassed 5.4 million, about a quarter of the world-wide figure. The rats are leaving the sinking ship.
The Department of Health and Human Services’ chief information officer, José Arrieta, resigned unexpectedly. Arrieta is responsible for the controversial migration of COVID-19 hospital data from CDC to HHS. Arrieta departs just four months after the department created the public data sharing hub HHS Protect.
The CDC’s chief of staff is Kyle McGowan. Amanda Campbell is the deputy chief of staff. Both unexpectedly announced their departures in emails to colleagues. The pair had been criticized by Trump administration officials for not being loyal enough.
Trump announced that Dr. Scott Atlas, a frequent guest on Fox News Channel, joined the White House as a pandemic adviser. Atlas has no expertise in public health or infectious diseases. He is unqualified.
He has criticized government lockdown efforts for having prevented “natural herd immunity, ” Herd immunity, also known as community immunity, occurs when a sufficient portion of a population is immune to a specific disease (usually through vaccination and/or prior illness), so that it can make the spread from person to person unlikely.
However, Dr. Fauci disagrees. Fauci and every other qualified doctor states enormous death tolls could occur if the U.S. allowed the coronavirus to spread to achieve herd immunity,
“If everyone contracted it, even with the relatively high percentage of people without symptoms … a lot of people are going to die,” he said. Fauci noted that with the number of people with diabetes and obesity in the U.S., “the death toll would be enormous and totally unacceptable” if everyone got infected.
Atlas believes it’s a “good thing” for younger, healthy Americans to be exposed to coronavirus because children are at essentially “zero risk.” He is an idiot. Health experts do not agree. One study found 35 percent of young adults who contracted coronavirus did not return to normal health two to three weeks after testing positive. Strange times, indeed.