Jul 18th 2020

Less Transparency Will Worsen the Pandemic

by Sam Ben-Meir

Sam Ben-Meir is professor of philosophy and world religions at Mercy Collage in New York.

 

Hospital data is now going directly to the Trump administration rather than the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. This will have immediate and far reaching consequences. Already valuable CDC pages that tracked changes in the number of occupied and available hospital beds in the nation for COVID-19 patients stopped working as a result of the switch. We have essentially lost this important metric for gauging the progress of the disease. The sidelining of the CDC is nothing less than a travesty and Americans should be outraged and alarmed. This loss of transparency will lead inevitably to an even worse pandemic and greater loss of life.

The redirection of information to the Trump administration increases its power to withhold information or misinform because now the public will have less visibility into what is happening. It will also hamper experts and researchers in their analyses of how the pandemic is progressing and how to advise the public. Dr. Thomas File, president of the Infectious Diseases Society of America, said that bypassing the agency would “undermine our nation’s public health experts.” The administration weakly attempts to justify the switch by arguing that the new system will be streamlined and modernized. Sidelining the CDC is not the answer to efficiency.

Does anyone really trust that the administration will present information and findings to the public in a way that is unadulterated, unvarnished, thorough and complete? The president has handled the pandemic incompetently since the beginning. We can be sure that information will be provided to the public – if it is provided at all – in such a way as to cast the administration in the most favorable light possible at the expense of accuracy and completeness.

For Trump, this crisis has only ever been a political problem to navigate with his typical bluster, arrogance and lies. He has never treated it as a public health crisis of a magnitude we have never before witnessed. Which means that this shift will very likely have a damaging effect on our battle against the pandemic going forward.

Akin to entrusting a fox to behave in a henhouse, how can this administration be entrusted with sole access to this data when the president has repeatedly downplayed the significance of the pandemic, when he pushed for the precipitous reopening of economies even when it was contrary to the recommendation of every serious expert, when he repeatedly suggests that case counts are increasing only because testing has increased? This last claim is a falsehood Trump habitually repeats — as The Atlantic reports, in states such as Arizona and Florida, “the number of new cases being reported is outpacing any increase in the states’ testing ability,” and states are reporting record daily case counts.

The American public has a right to this information, especially when we are dealing with Trump who is without exaggeration “the most mendacious president in history.” According to the Washington Post Fact Checker Trump has made over 20,000 false or misleading claims since his administration began. And Trump made 654 false claims over fourteen weeks during the coronavirus pandemic.

Yet, somehow, we must place our trust in an administration that has demonstrated time and again its disdain for the truth. This administration has undermined the very notion of objective truth by promoting absurd conspiracy theories, false accusations and empty charges against not only political rivals but impartial experts; and a general unwillingness to defer to science when its conclusions are not politically expedient.

To date there have been, in the US alone, nearly 3.5 million confirmed cases of COVID-19 and almost 140,000 deaths. UNICEF warned that as many as 6,000 children could die every day due to the impact of the coronavirus and its disruption of routine health services. In fact, this is “the biggest and most urgent global crisis children have faced since the second world war,” according to UNICEF UK’s executive director Sacha Deshmukh.

What is so sad is that this country, instead of coming together, is perhaps more deeply divided than ever – thanks in no small part to Trump’s politicization of this crisis and of US intelligence, not to speak of his disagreement with top experts from within his own administration, including Dr. Anthony Fauci. Nearly three months ago, the White House called its response to the pandemic “a great success story” – at that point more Americans had already died in this crisis than in the Vietnam War. The only thing this president seems reliably capable of is self-lauding and congratulating himself for doing “a great job” – regardless of his actual performance, which in this case has been nothing short of epically disastrous, shameful and flagrantly irresponsible.

And now in support of his personal interests, Trump is taking steps to ensure that the many more thousands of Americans who die of coronavirus will not be in the public view.

 

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Jul 25th 2021
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Jul 9th 2021
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Jul 7th 2021
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Jul 1st 2021
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Jun 19th 2021
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Jun 12th 2021
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Jun 8th 2021
EXTRACT: " While many conservative Republicans opposed Trump and saw that he posed a danger to their party and democracy itself, they were hesitant to buck the mass movement they had created, fearing that it would turn against them. Some of these same conservatives assumed that with Trump's defeat, the horror of January 6th, and the former president's banishment from social media, the time had come to restore sanity to their party. But the GOP leadership’s continued cowering in the face of what they now call "Trump's base" has caused them to circle the wagons and purge their ranks of those who call for sanity. "
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May 25th 2021
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May 18th 2021
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May 16th 2021
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May 16th 2021
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May 15th 2021
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May 13th 2021
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May 7th 2021
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May 5th 2021
EXTRACT: "Human history, ancient and contemporary, is replete with instances of genocide – that is, the effort to eradicate a people, erase their history, denigrate their culture, and destroy their physical presence. Many of these atrocities have been recognized by the victims and other nations who support them. But, with the notable exception of the German acknowledgment of the Holocaust, rarely have the perpetrators of these crimes accepted responsibility and offer recompense "