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Defying the Odds

Defying the Odds
New book about the 2016 election.

Sunday, April 5, 2020

Plague Year

In Defying the Odds, we discuss the 2016 campaign. The 2019 update includes a chapter on the 2018 midterms. The 2020 race, the subject of our next book, is well under  way.  

Coronavirus presents unprecedented challenges to public policy and the electoral process.

A badly-timed tweet:

 Steve Eder, Henry Fountain, Michael H. Keller, Muyi Xiao and Alexandra Stevenson at NYT:
Since Chinese officials disclosed the outbreak of a mysterious pneumonialike illness to international health officials on New Year’s Eve, at least 430,000 people have arrived in the United States on direct flights from China, including nearly 40,000 in the two months after President Trump imposed restrictions on such travel, according to an analysis of data collected in both countries.
The bulk of the passengers, who were of multiple nationalities, arrived in January, at airports in Los Angeles, San Francisco, New York, Chicago, Seattle, Newark and Detroit. Thousands of them flew directly from Wuhan, the center of the coronavirus outbreak, as American public health officials were only beginning to assess the risks to the United States.
Flights continued this past week, the data show, with passengers traveling from Beijing to Los Angeles, San Francisco and New York, under rules that exempt Americans and some others from the clampdown that took effect on Feb. 2. In all, 279 flights from China have arrived in the United States since then, and screening procedures have been uneven, interviews show.

Yasmeen Abutaleb, Josh Dawsey, Ellen Nakashima and Greg Miller at Washington Post:
The Trump administration received its first formal notification of the outbreak of the coronavirus in China on Jan. 3. Within days, U.S. spy agencies were signaling the seriousness of the threat to Trump by including a warning about the coronavirus — the first of many — in the President’s Daily Brief.

And yet, it took 70 days from that initial notification for Trump to treat the coronavirus not as a distant threat or harmless flu strain well under control, but as a lethal force that had outflanked America’s defenses and was poised to kill tens of thousands of citizens. That more-than-two-month stretch now stands as critical time that was squandered.
Trump’s baseless assertions in those weeks, including his claim that it would all just “miraculously” go away, sowed significant public confusion and contradicted the urgent messages of public health experts.
...
The most consequential failure involved a breakdown in efforts to develop a diagnostic test that could be mass produced and distributed across the United States, enabling agencies to map early outbreaks of the disease, and impose quarantine measure to contain them. At one point, a Food and Drug Administration official tore into lab officials at the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, telling them their lapses in protocol, including concerns that the lab did not meet the criteria for sterile conditions, were so serious that the FDA would “shut you down” if the CDC were a commercial, rather than government, entity.
Other failures cascaded through the system. The administration often seemed weeks behind the curve in reacting to the viral spread, closing doors that were already contaminated. Protracted arguments between the White House and public health agencies over funding, combined with a meager existing stockpile of emergency supplies, left vast stretches of the country’s health-care system without protective gear until the outbreak had become a pandemic. Infighting, turf wars and abrupt leadership changes hobbled the work of the coronavirus task force.
Remarks by President Trump, Vice President Pence, and Members of the Coronavirus Task Force in Press Briefing April 3, 2020
Our people have done an incredible job. Most people have said — now, and I said this yesterday — governors have said, “Thank you very much. Great job.” If they’re a Democrat governor — in some cases; not in all cases at all — if I said, “Here’s 1,000 ventilators. How many do you want?” “We want 1,000.” “Here’s 1,000. You got ’em. But you know what we’re going to do? We’re going to add another 5,000. Is that good?” They said, “Wow, that’s great.” And then, if Jim Acosta goes and says, “Are you happy with the President?” “No, he should have given us 10,000.” That’s what’s happening. You know why? Because that’s a standard political answer. And that’s a shame because we have done a job like nobody has ever done a job.

But we’ve just delivered a lot of masks. We’ve just delivered a lot of gowns and protective gear. But, you know, you’re talking about a massive — you’re talking about a massive number. But, as of this morning, people were very, very happy.
... 
Q    So, I just have a couple of questions about supplies — one specifically on New York and the question of ventilators.  Governor Cuomo is saying that New York may be days away from running out of ventilators.  Can you assure New York that, going into next week, that they’re going to have the ventilators that they’re going to need?
THE PRESIDENT:  No, they should’ve had more ventilators at the time.  They should have had more ventilators.  They were totally under serviced.  We are trying to do — we’re doing our best for New York.  You know, we have — we have states, we have a lot of states.  We have territories too.  But we have a lot of states that have to be taken care of, some much more so than others.
We’ve worked very well with the governor.  We happen to think that he’s well served with ventilators.  We’re going to find out, but we have other states to take care  of.
Aaron Rupar at Vox:
To back up: Kushner created quite a negative stir with comments he made during Thursday’s White House coronavirus task force press briefing characterizing the Strategic National Stockpile as “our stockpile” instead of “states’ stockpiles that they then use” — remarks at odds with language on the stockpile’s website that described it as a resource for “state, local, tribal, and territorial responders” to obtain “the right medicines and supplies ... during an emergency.”
But within hours of Kushner making those widely decried remarks, language on the stockpile’s website was changed to be in line with the view he espoused about it belonging to the feds but not necessarily the states