‘Every Lie We Tell Incurs a Debt to the Truth’
The government response to the coronavirus has been so lacking in part because they still don’t have enough tests available, so there is no way to tell how many people have already been infected. A related reason is that the CDC keeps refusing to approve testing for people who have potentially been exposed to the virus, and that even includes medical professionals that become sick. A quarantined nurse in northern California has written about her experience with this:
— Matt Pearce 🦅 (@mattdpearce) March 5, 2020
Jeremy Konyndyk comments on the nurse’s letter:
“This is not a deli counter. It is a public health emergency. I’m appalled…delaying this test puts the whole community at risk.”
The testing issue is such a mind-boggling debacle, all the more so for being totally avoidable with competent crisis management. It’s extraordinary. https://t.co/cDeAJf2e9h
— Jeremy WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS Konyndyk (@JeremyKonyndyk) March 6, 2020
I said earlier this week that the government has been flying blind in its response to the outbreak, and this is one of the consequences of that. Incredibly, the HHS Secretary said just this week that there are only a little over 100 cases in the country, but this low number is a function of the woefully inadequate testing that has been done. Azar’s statement needs to be read in full to appreciate how ludicrous it was:
Remember, we only have over 100 cases so far in the United States. We are not South Korea. South Korea may be doing tens of thousands of tests because South Korea is in a very different epidemiological position. It is more like China’s situation than like the United States or Canada’s situation.
The president has been determined to minimize the seriousness of the outbreak, and his officials are falling in line behind his reckless lead. Azar’s statement shows how dishonest the Trump administration is being in its response. Trump wants to make it seem as if the virus has been contained, so his officials cite the smallest number possible to placate him. South Korea is conducting so many tests in order to discover how bad the outbreak there is. The U.S. is lagging far behind them, and top U.S. officials take this unacceptable tardiness and dereliction as proof that the outbreak isn’t that big of a problem. Here is Konyndyk again from yesterday:
This is so depressing. So much obvious deception packed into a few brief sentences. Anyone with access to google can debunk this whole line of defense.
Azar and Pence must know all this is untrue. They must know they are misleading the public they are charged to protect.
— Jeremy WASH YOUR DAMN HANDS Konyndyk (@JeremyKonyndyk) March 4, 2020
The top officials that the president has put in charge of the coronavirus response are lying to the public about the severity of the problem to cover up for their own failures and to cater to the moods of the president. There is a quote from the miniseries Chernobyl that seems appropriate to cite here: “When the truth offends, we lie and lie until we can no longer remember that it is even there, but it is still there. Every lie we tell incurs a debt to the truth. Sooner or later, that debt is paid.” The debt incurred by the Trump administration’s lies and evasions about this health crisis will likely be paid by many of the most vulnerable and elderly Americans.