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He Slowed Testing, Really?

Mark Karlin: Many epidemiologists believe the US needs millions and millions of tests a day to safely reopen and check employees and others in high-contact positions frequently.
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Trump Admitting That He Asked Staff to Slow COVID-19 Testing Is Not a Campaign "Reset," It's Willful Homicide

“When you do testing to that extent, you’re going to find more people, you’re going to find more cases. So I said to my people, ‘Slow the testing down, please.’ They test and they test.”— Donald Trump, Tulsa Campaign Rally on June 20

“It constitutes a criminal, negligent abuse of power so unspeakable and so unthinkable that there isn’t even a law, federal or international, to adequately cover the case….it constitutes nothing less than a national and global crime against humanity.— David Atkins, The Washington Monthly

It shouldn’t have come as a surprise to political reporters and editors covering Trump that he has opposed an increase in COVID-19 testing, because he has been doing it for weeks, openly — along with Mike Pence — obstructing and disinforming. Trump has been slow-walking increased federal testing availability since the beginning of the Coronavirus outbreak in the US (which he said would “disappear magically”). At the bottom of this commentary are a sampling of past BuzzFlash analyses, many that cover this opposition to testing.

So, while it was welcome that the mainstream media suddenly appeared to realize that Trump has put US lives in danger by, as he stated at the Tulsa rally, asking staff to “slow the testing down,” he had been saying this aloud to the press, just short of claiming he actually “asked” to keep testing to a minimum. Why did the press suddenly call him out, given that Trump has been — and continues to be — a cause of so many unnecessary deaths?

Just last week, prior to the Tulsa rally, he twice noted that he thought testing was driving the number of Coronavirus infections up. He mentioned this in an interview with the Wall Street Journal last week. HuffPost, in a June 15 article stated that “During a roundtable on ‘Fighting for America’s Seniors,’ the president suggested that not testing for the Coronavirus could be one way of reducing reported cases.” He added, “‘If we stop testing right now, we’d have very few cases, if any,’ the president said.”

BuzzFlash has noted on Twitter that the logical conclusion of such magical and bizarre thinking is that if we stop testing for cancer, there would be no cancer cases. Or if we stop testing for pregnancy, there would be no new children born.

This is a deadly serious stance on Trump’s part, has been since the beginning of the pandemic in the US, when Trump put a break on increasing federal production of tests, and still is keeping the number of federal tests down, inordinately less than the massive numbers called for by most public health experts.

On June 22, Trump was asked by Scripps correspondent, Joe St. George, if he had actually asked federal staff to slow the testing down and Trump refused to answer, which you can take for a yes. He probably didn’t add to his 19,000 plus lies because he fears there is evidence that he did deny potentially life-saving testing to Americans. Testing, as BuzzFlash has been emphasizing for weeks, is essential to getting the Coronavirus under control. Currently, the US has 4% of the world’s population, but nearly 25% of its confirmed COVID-19 cases.

Many epidemiologists believe the US needs millions and millions of tests a day to safely reopen and check employees and others in high-contact positions frequently.

Many epidemiologists believe the US needs millions and millions of tests a day to safely reopen and check employees and others in high-contact positions frequently.

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Trump, instead, told St. George his perennial misleading claim that, “We do more tests than any country in the world by far.” It’s misleading because we do less testing per million of our population than several nations, including Russia. Also, it doesn’t speak to the increasing percentage of COVID-19 positive results, which indicates increased virus spread as compared to decline, typifying the surge occurring in the “rush to reopen” Trump Red States.

The Sunday media shows, which thrive on getting administrative spokespersons booked, let many of the Trump PR stand-ins get away with ludicrously dismissing Trump’s Saturday reconfirmation that he has been slowing federal assistance on testing as “a joke,” amidst a campaign “reset.” However, with 122,000 US dead by Coronavirus and 200,000 expected dead by the end of the summer, it wouldn’t be something to make light of.

Few hosts, as is normally the case, followed up by challenging their shameless shill guests that Trump has been insisting tests for COVID-19 only increase the cases all along. However, as Arizona ICU’s are filled to capacity, and where Trump is holding another enclosed event of 3000 youths on Tuesday — defying again his own CDC guidelines on mass events, hospitalization and death, which are starting to explode in loyal Trump states, will accelerate more quickly without dramatically increased testing, .

All the more damning is that Trump appears not to be spending $15 billion that Congress appropriated for testing (which is why he probably didn’t answer St. George’s question). And, as Dan Froomkin of Press Watch, states that “There’s no national testing program for Trump to slow down is the problem.” This has been a catastrophe for US lives, and something the mainstream media can’t appear to remember every time Trump feeds them an excuse.

Trump received confirmation of his assertion that he had slowed down Coronavirus testing from an unlikely quarter, Mike Pence. According to AlterNet, on June 22 Pence told the nation’s governors on a conference call that “comments at an Oklahoma campaign rally about slowing down testing for Coronavirus were just ‘a passing observation’ and not meant in jest.”

David Atkins wrote in Washington Monthly on June 21 what BuzzFlash has been asserting for some time, that Trump’s efforts to slow down efforts— and actually create chaos (including infectious campaign rallies and not encouraging the wearing of masks) — to contain the Coronavirus, which has resulted in tens of thousands of deaths, most of which could have been prevented, is a crime against humanity:

It constitutes a criminal, negligent abuse of power so unspeakable and so unthinkable that there isn’t even a law, federal or international, to adequately cover the case. It is the sort of high crime that impeachment was explicitly designed for, because the potential for abuses of power by a chief executive potentate is so vast and variegated that it would be impossible to write laws for all the potential scenarios. But to explicitly slow walk testing in a once-in-a-century pandemic, just to reduce the number of publicized cases for purely political purposes, allowing the virus to spread unchecked just to keep the economy humming along a little longer and to make his own response appear somewhat less incompetent, is the essence of a high crime. Because the consequences are so deadly–potentially killing literally hundreds of thousands of his own fellow citizens and endangering the entire interconnected world–it constitutes nothing less than a national and global crime against humanity.

Relevantly, the Trump administration has been trying to dismantle the International Criminal Court because it is investigating US war crimes in Afghanistan. According to a June 21 Guardian article:

The assault that the US has launched on the international criminal court is not merely an attack on a valuable and necessary institution. It is an attack on human rights themselves, and on the victims who have endured horrific abuses.

The Trump administration is imposing sanctions not on those who commit atrocities, but on those who investigate such crimes. The decision to target members of the international body charged with prosecuting individuals for war crimes, crimes against humanity and genocide is motivated primarily by the ICC’s investigation into abuses by multiple actors, including the US, in the war in Afghanistan.

Perhaps Trump is most worried that he and Pence might become targets of an International Criminal Court Investigation for their crimes against humanity in politically weaponizing COVID-19 death.

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Mark Karlin
Buzzflash