Trump has a very bad weekend in his efforts to change the subject from COVID-19

Trump has a very bad weekend in his efforts to change the subject from COVID-19
President Donald J. Trump meets with reporters to announce that Israel and Sudan have agreed to normalize relations Friday, Oct. 23, 2020, in the Oval Office of the White House. (Official White House Photo Tia Dufour)

Donald Trump has been working hard to change the subject from the coronavirus pandemic, since his failure to control it is a major reason he is on track to lose on November 3. From that point of view, this was a very, very bad weekend for Trump. So bad.

First, five members of Mike Pence's staff tested positive, news that got out despite the White House's efforts to cover it up. Pence announced he would keep to his schedule because, get this, he's an essential worker. Pence is mostly campaigning these days, so that's the work being claimed as so essential he can't follow guidelines and quarantine after close contact with people who have COVID-19. Then White House chief of staff Mark Meadows went on TV Sunday morning and said, "We're not going to control the pandemic."

"We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines, therapeutics and other mitigations," Meadows continued. Those are in the future though. In the present, the seven-day average of new cases has doubled in the last six weeks, and hospitalizations are up.

"We're not going to control the pandemic." Let that one sink in.

"This wasn't a slip by Meadows; it was a candid acknowledgment of what President Trump's strategy has clearly been from the beginning of this crisis: to wave the white flag of defeat and hope that by ignoring it, the virus would simply go away," Joe Biden said in a statement. "It hasn't, and it won't."

Trump, meanwhile, is committed to increasing the 165 times he's downplayed the threat of the virus:

At a Saturday rally, he whined "Turn on television: 'covid, covid, covid, covid, covid.' A plane goes down, 500 people dead, they don't talk about it—'covid, covid, covid, covid.'" No, you haven't missed a plane crash that killed 500 people. The most deadly plane crash during the pandemic killed less than 100 people, in Karachi, Pakistan, in May. Coronavirus deaths in the U.S. are averaging more than 700 per day.

So they admitted that they're not going to control the pandemic—hell, they're not even trying, not that it hasn't been apparent to all of us for months now—while Pence is out on the campaign trail despite five of his aides having tested positive. Reporting shows coronavirus surges in several places where Trump has held rallies. Several of Trump's boosters at Fox News have been forced to quarantine after they were exposed to COVID-19. And Trump just keeps on pretending if he gets his supporters to clap harder the whole thing will go away. Eight days until the election and it sure doesn't look like they're going to succeed at changing the subject.

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