As Virginia heads toward a restricted partial opening of some businesses and restaurants on Friday, a new poll shows most Virginians and Americans don’t want to rush back into a situation that they feel could lead to increased coronavirus infections and deaths.
In Virginia, 78 percent of the Commonwealth’s adults approve of the Gov. Ralph Northam’s restraint and caution. Georgia’s adults, however, don’t like the attempts of their governor to push harder to open and “get back to business. Gov. Brian Kemp’s approval of his action is only 39 percent.
The Washington Post-Ipsos poll said: “The disparities appear to be linked not solely to partisanship, but also to the differing paths the governors have adopted as they seek to balance efforts to contain the spread of the virus while trying to limit the damage to their economies.”
An overwhelming majority of Americans (74 percent) feel the United States should focus first on slowing the spread of the virus even if it means keeping businesses closed.
These poll numbers match what other polls show is falling support for Donald Trump’s push to reopen American’s businesses while ignoring the threat of the pandemic.
The poll highlights the degree to which Americans have placed trust in their governors, as well as the difficulties for state leaders in navigating the politics of reopening while Americans widely support continuing to restrict businesses.
The poll results appear to match the planned remarks Tuesday by Anthony Fauci, the nation’s top infectious disease expert, who is expected to warn Senators that moving to quickly to reopen business and reduce stay at home orders will lead to “needless suffering and death.”
Fauci’s warnings come as more than 80,000 Americans have died from the pandemic while Trump claims “we have met the moment and we have prevailed.”
In an email to media Monday night, Fauci noted:
The major message that I wish to convey to the Senate HLP committee tomorrow is the danger of trying to open the country prematurely. If we skip over the checkpoints in the guidelines to ‘Open America Again,’ then we risk the danger of multiple outbreaks throughout the country. This will not only result in needless suffering and death, but would actually set us back on our quest to return to normal.
The White House Monday admitted the country has nowhere near enough testing capacity while more than 40 states move ahead with easing restrictions. America lags behind other nations behind in per-capita testing and none of the states that are easing restrictions have met the criteria set earlier by the Center for Disease Control (CDC).
Notes Eugine Robinson in the Post:
This is the part of the horror movie when we realize that the phone call from the psychotic killer is coming from inside the house — and yet those being stalked convince themselves that somehow, things will work out just fine.
We now know that covid-19 has invaded the White House itself. Vice President Pence’s press secretary, Katie Miller, and one of President Trump’s personal valets have both tested positive for the novel coronavirus. Two of the physicians leading the federal response to the virus — Robert Redfield, head of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and Stephen Hahn, head of the Food and Drug Administration — have gone into self-quarantine as a precaution. A third, Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, has placed himself in partial isolation.
Yet Trump, who has been in physical proximity to all of the above — without practicing proper social distancing — seeks to project a sunny lack of concern, even as the pandemic literally hits home. “Coronavirus numbers are looking MUCH better, going down almost everywhere,” he proclaimed Monday on Twitter. “Big progress being made!”
After 80,000 U.S. deaths, the president is still engaged in magical thinking. He has long maintained that the virus will “go away without a vaccine,” though experts tell him it will not. His vanity will not allow him to be photographed wearing a face mask. The phrase “whistling past the graveyard” comes to mind.
The restrictions put in place to deal with this pandemic have created many hardships from those out of work or with small businesses that are shut down.
While America’s politicians offer a rosy prediction of a quick recovery and “a return to normalcy,” the medical and scientific experts say no such quick fix is available.
“What worries me the most is that we are going to miss the next emerging disease,” says scientist Peter Daszak, president of EcoHealth Alliance, a nonprofit research group focused on emerging pandemics. Other diseases are coming and they will “move from one part of the planet to another, wiping out people as it moves along.”
Conservative antipathy to science is nothing new; Republicans have long denied and denigrated the scientific consensus on issues from evolution to stem cell research to climate change. This hostility has several causes, including populist distrust of experts, religious rejection of information that undermines biblical literalism and efforts by giant corporations to evade regulation.
But it’s grown worse under Trump, with his authoritarian impulse to quash any facts, from inauguration crowd sizes to hurricane paths, that might reflect poorly on him.
Until recently, it seemed as if Trump’s sabotage of efforts to combat climate change would be the most destructive legacy of his disregard for science. But the coronavirus has presented the country with an emergency that only sound science can solve. That means that the Trump administration’s disdain for expertise, its elevation of slavish loyalty over technical competence, has become a more immediate threat.
The threat to America is real and dangerous. It currently resides at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue in Washington, DC.