Trump administration plans $250 million ad buy telling voters not to worry so much about the pandemic
The Trump administration has given up on any serious attempts to curb the nation's ongoing COVID-19 pandemic. As U.S. deaths inch towards the 200,000 mark, outside experts are now warning Americans to ignore the "dysfunctional" Centers of Disease Control and Prevention after the agency issued new, Trump-favored guidelines to reduce testing, rather than expand it. There is no federal contract tracing effort. There is no standard, expert-based pandemic policy—each state has been left to its own devices, with federal officials ignoring even the most serious state outbreaks.
Don't worry, though. It's not like the Trump-led federal government is entirely asleep at the wheel. The Department of Health and Human Services is seeking bids for a new quarter-billion dollar communications contract, reports Politico. No, not to encourage Americans to social distance, wear masks, or get tested—don't be stupid. The new publicity campaign will instead "defeat despair and inspire hope," advising businesses how to operate "in the new normal" and instilling "confidence to return to work and restart the economy."
Yeah, we're all going to die.
You will note, dear tired reader, that this language sounds very much like Trump's own anti-pandemic anti-policy. Rather than taking more aggressive steps to curtail the pandemic—as nearly every other nation on the planet has—the new publicity campaign will presume we live in a "new normal." It will be based, says "a senior HHS official" who for some reason would not go on the record to say these embarrassing things, on "defeating the mental health challenges of the coronavirus," which sounds explicitly like Trump's own insistence that it's depression over social distancing that's killing people, not the deadly disease marked on the death certificates.
So instead of a new testing program or, say, mailing out masks to every American household, we're getting an advertising campaign meant to "defeat despair." Oh, and Politico reports the contract will be managed by Trump ex-campaign guy Michael Caputo.
Odds that Trump loyalist Michael Caputo is going to sign off on a $250 million ad campaign telling Americans to "defeat despair" through the remarkably effective practice of wearing masks, against Donald Trump's personal wishes? Zero. Less than zero. Zero minus the square root of Ivanka.
Anyhoo, the idea that the Trump-led federal government is, immediately before the (cough) November elections, going to be combatting the COVID-19 pandemic via an ad campaign telling Americans to maybe just stop being sad about it is ... well, let's be honest. It's so on-brand it hurts.
It's the "Be Best" of infectious disease campaigns. Sorry, we still need to limit testing—but here's some tips on how you can restart the economy, fellow patriots. Nothing inspires "hope" like getting your unmasked face back to work, unless it's getting legislation passed immunizing your employer from consequences if you die afterword. Now that's inspiring.