At least 14 people in President Donald Trump’s family, the US government and his close circle of advisers have recently tested positive for Covid-19, a new disease that has killed more than 210,000 Americans.
With uncertainty about the President’s condition since he acquired the disease, there is increasing bewilderment in Washington at some of his tone deaf and erratic moves, such as leaving the hospital against medical advice.
Trump abandoned until after elections congressional negotiations on a new economic rescue package and launched a fresh assault on public health strategies needed to slow a now-accelerating pandemic.
“I have instructed my representatives to stop negotiating until after the election when, immediately after I win, we will pass a major Stimulus Bill that focuses on hardworking Americans and Small Business,” Trump tweeted.
In subsequent tweets, he asked Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell to focus on efforts to approve his nominee to the Supreme Court, Judge Amy Coney Barrett.
Trump once again falsely claimed that Covid is no worse than the flu, as he portrays himself as a hero who conquered the virus.
Economists and investors pointed out that the U.S. economy, by many metrics, remains fragile following a recession earlier this year. Some lawmakers pushed for talks to resume.
“Waiting until after the election to reach an agreement on the next Covid-19 relief package is a huge mistake,” said GOP Sen. Susan Collins, who faces a tough reelection battle in Maine. “I have already been in touch with the Secretary of the Treasury, one of the chief negotiators, and with several of my Senate colleagues.”
Trump’s Democratic challenger in the 2020 election, former Vice President Joe Biden, said the decision to suspend talks shows the Republican president doesn’t care about the plight of Americans struggling as a result of the coronavirus.
“He ended talks that would get help for our businesses and schools, for families struggling and for those unemployed — that would have preserved hundreds of thousands of jobs,” said Biden.
Millions of Americans remain unemployed or furloughed as a direct result of the virus.
Stock markets fell sharply on the news, as investors panicked and sold off shares in anticipation of prolonged economic problems.
Fed Chairman Jerome Powell, a Trump appointee and one of the nation’s top economic officials, said just hours before the president’s tweets that the U.S. economic outlook could deteriorate again if Congress couldn’t reach a deal to release more relief.
Failing to reach a deal could “lead to a weak recovery, creating unnecessary hardship for households and businesses” and thwart a rebound that thus far has progressed more quickly than expected.
The health crisis was viewed by Trump’s advisers as a chance for a political reset to show a new, more empathetic stance toward the coronavirus.
Before they could develop traction their candidate abandoned that narrative, inviting strong criticism.
Trump’s blood oxygen level dropped twice in the two days after he was diagnosed with the coronavirus, requiring medical intervention, but he checked himself out of the hospital without acknowledging that he gets superior health care than ordinary Americans.
His support is dwindling as more voters learn that Trump’s administration is pushing to eradicate the health care law that expanded benefits to millions of Americans and improved the quality of care for seniors and families.
The President has received cutting-edge care and VIP treatment since his diagnosis with COVID-19 last week, including a combination of treatments that would not have been available to most Americans early in the progression of the illness.
“The President received experimental therapies that no one has access to,” says Leana Wen, an emergency physician and public health professor at George Washington University. “As far as we know, the President is the only person in the world to have received this combination of treatments,” she says.
Since his diagnosis, Trump has received these key interventions: supplemental oxygen, steroids, an experimental antibody cocktail, and the antiviral medication remdesivir.
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