Sunday, July 12, 2020


By Dominique Paul Noth

I understand and even agree with not blaming Trump for everything.  Yes he is the symptom not the disease.  No, he’s not entirely to blame for the national gridlock. Yes, ousting him is only the first November step in the nation’s recovery.  It must be accompanied by wresting control from those deaf dumb and blind Republicans of the US Senate and retaining  Democratic control of the House (passing most of those 400 plus bills McConnell has blocked)  if we really expect President Biden to correct the damage.

Amusingly Biden has already said that on Day One he will make permanent DACA(Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals) and also on day one rejoin the World Health Organization that Trump in a moment of pandemic pique pulled the US out of.

But Biden is going to have one hell of a busy Day One given the clamor to fix health care, remove kids from border cages, put the economy back to work, help Congress fix immigration, rejoin the world on climate change, reclaim Obama’s environmental efforts, restore the rule of law, try to renew the Iran deal, return our global standing to normal and on and on in a numbing litany of damage to US reputation that Trump still has six full months to wreck even further.

But I do blame Trump first and foremost for the deaths he has caused in mishandling coronavirus – not something that he is just a symptom of.  He is the root cause. Unlike his claim that he could shoot a follower on Fifth Avenue and not be prosecuted (actually he would be), there are so many levers involved in his covid decisions that here he is getting away with murder.

His belligerent inaction has killed hundreds of people I know and tens upon tens of thousands I don’t personally know. There is no escaping that reality.

With the best of presidents we still would have lost thousands of our citizens – pandemics are not easy to deal with and knowledge of how covid-19 is acquired over time is proving essential to addressing it.  Failing to put knowledge first has proved quite horrifying.  Trump’s refusal to face up to the task is worse than any games of secrecy China played.  The fact that the US is painfully last in the world (next to a Brazilian Trump-like fool) is a direct consequence of his stopping and going, flunking basic messaging, in not trusting science over his own stupidity, in blocking sustained testing and research – yes, all that I blame him for.

His attitude that it is now up to the governors, not the federal government, is absurd if not criminal.  His delays and denials were not for the purpose of gaining knowledge – nor was the whip he used to run the taskforce -- or for admitting that we didn’t yet know enough, which is why scientists early on were uncertain about masks because they didn’t have evidence that the asymptomatic spread the disease.

Their uncertainties developing knowledge are explainable. His refusal to help develop that knowledge and then resist organized testing has now made the nation once regarded as the world’s strongest look the most confused and untrustworthy. More than likely now, another nation will develop the vaccine and let’s hope they are friendlier once Trump is gone.

Refrigerator trucks serving as hospital morgue in New York City.
Refrigerator trucks serving as temporary 
hospital morgue in New York City
We are now months if not years away from getting out of this.  In wasting six months we have jeopardized current and future generations.  We were so short of protective supplies that we demanded people not hoard them from first responders.  We limited testing and treatment to those that showed symptoms. Even today, despite the numbers Trump keeps touting, citizens cannot go out and get a test.  Nor are all of them exposed to the best treatments available because sometimes the doctors don’t yet know which are the best treatments.

We are only now starting to get a handle on the role of asymptomatic carriers, whether antibodies play a protective role, whether once negative turned positive can turn negative and then positive again.

We believe, mainly from other countries that have done better controlled tests -- and even these are not conclusive -- that elementary school children can suffer the virus and walk through it better than their teenage friends.  And we believe the teens do better than the college age students, who do better than the adults under 55.  So just as we are comforted – comforted! – that 50% of the deaths are people 60 to 80, we are learning that thousands of younger adults are even now increasing in  hospitalization  and dying and even teens and children are facing morbidity even when parents are doubtful if they have other underlying health issues.

A state like my Wisconsin stayed off the national radar until July 11 when it climbed into the record-setting daily positive covid rate alongside Texas, South Carolina, Alaska, Arkansas, North Carolina, Idaho, Oregon and Hawaii.

Simply put, the pandemic disaster in the US – not in the world -- is of epic proportions and we still know too little in the world’s most technologically advanced nation.  And that, no matter how you slice it, is Trump’s fault. After killing thousands, he is demanding putting thousands more at risk by insisting that all 13,000 public school districts reopen schools.

He has a secretary of education who sounds even stupider than he does when she goes on TV to say there is nothing dangerous for kids going to school.   Yet meanwhile the World Health Organization that Trump discounts has concluded that the virus is airborne in crowded indoor spaces with poor ventilation, which sure sounds to the New York Times like a description of many American schools

Nor do we know because of huge gaps in contact tracing and research how children become infected and how, if and when they transmit the virus.  Trying to re-open would seem to require just the sort of research and discussion that Trump opposes.

Yes, there is research from other countries that loosely suggest younger children are less likely than teenagers to infect other people, but from that point scientists are forced to guess why.  Could it be that elementary school children don’t have the lung capacity or the vocal strength to spray droplets as far as teenagers do?  In that case, you’d better stifle any budding Julie Andrews or Judy Garlands among your young ones and probably drown any future Brenda Lee.

Or could it be that,  unlike the 1918 pandemic that killed hundreds of thousands mainly young people, this virus doesn’t impact the younger as it has the older citizens with underlying   health conditions? Or, since we have never successfully developed a lasting vaccine from nasal covid infections, could it be that the covid-19 in its so far harmless mutations has another kick in the age breadbasket coming?

Scientists simply don’t have enough evidence to speak with certainty – and after six months of on again off again direction, whose fault is that?  Parents and school leaders are forced to take the gambles and make the decisions even as epidemiologists predict the fall could be even worse.  Who can blame the people for not expecting any sensible advice from Betsy DeVos or Trump?

I admit that I am a prime candidate to be felled quickly by the pandemic – in my seventies, with a Pacemaker and with lingering COPD even after I stopped smoking 15 years ago.   I don’t blame Trump for how the pandemic tossed out my pleasure of attending plays, films and concerts that I long enjoyed writing about – that departure was a common sense reality imposed by covid. As is my family's steps toward full quarantine.

But when I think of my grandchildren, and all the grandchildren, and how their future education and survival have been threatened by the actions of our current president, when I think of the 140,000 whose deaths he careless dismissed as the price of running a nation, I can’t wait for him to be gone.  There is no punishment that fits his crimes.

About the author: Noth has been  a professional journalist since the 1960s, first as national, international and local news copy editor at The Milwaukee Journal, then as an editor for its original Green Sheet, also  for almost two decades the paper’s film and drama critic. He became the newspaper’s senior feature editor. He was tapped by the publishers of the combining Milwaukee Journal Sentinel for special projects and as first online news producer before voluntarily departing in the mid-1990s to run online news seminars and write on public affairs. From 2002 to 2013 he ran the Milwaukee Labor Press as editor. It served as the Midwest’s largest home-delivered labor newspaper, with archives at  In that role he won top awards yearly until the paper stopped publishing in 2013. His investigative pieces and extensive commentaries are now published by several news outlets as well as his DomsDomain dual culture and politics outlets.  A member of the American Theatre Critics Association at its inception, he also reviews theater for Urban Milwaukee. 

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