On the heels of his sweeping successes in safely jumpstarting the nation's economy, Donald Trump hopes to recreate his secret formula for reopening schools this fall.
The only difference is, Trump's placing even less emphasis on safety and more emphasis on bludgeoning governors and local officials into choosing between two impossible options: putting children and families at extensive risk or starving their states of a key component needed to fuel their economic recovery.
Remember when Trump balked momentarily at the Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp's rush to reopen the state even though it hadn't met the suggested White House task force metrics for safely reopening? None of that this time around. Trump is taking the hammer directly to state officials while overtly sidelining the recommendations of his own Centers for Disease Control.
"We're very much going to put pressure on governors and everyone else to open the schools," Trump told reporters Tuesday. On Wednesday, he added a comparison between U.S. schools and those of other wealthy nations that actually enacted national coronavirus testing plans.
“In Germany, Denmark, Norway, Sweden and many other countries, SCHOOLS ARE OPEN WITH NO PROBLEMS,” Trump tweeted Wednesday morning, adding, "May cut off funding if not open!" An hour later, Trump also tweeted that the current CDC guidelines for reopening schools were "very tough & expensive," complaining that they were "very impractical."
His entire administration is now singing from that same dis-the-CDC song sheet. "We don’t want the guidance from CDC to be a reason why schools don’t open," Vice President Mike Pence, pandemic extraordinaire, told reporters during a White House task force briefing Wednesday. Pence also offered that his wife, Karen, was “the best expert” he knew on the topic of schools reopening. The CDC is now reportedly reworking its own guidance, presumably with the help of Karen Pence, expert.
But one thing we can trust for certain is that safety isn't a key priority for anyone in Trump’s orbit. Trump is approaching his push to reopen schools exactly as he approached his push to reopen states. While demanding that governors and local officials reopen facilities, he hasn't offered to lift so much as a finger to make those reopenings more safe.
For instance, how about putting billions toward deep cleaning the schools, helping them stock up on masks and other protective equipment, and opening on-site care centers with testing and contact tracing capability?
Nope. None of it. Not one damned thing. No funding, no resources, no useful guidance—nothing. Just the f*cking pressure campaign with a hope and a prayer for best results if we're all lucky.
So just to be clear—it's pretty safe to say that every working parent in America wants schools to reopen in fall. Safely. While most kids appear to weather the coronavirus quite well, they could easily carry the virus home and infect other members of the household, thereby hobbling the workforce and putting more lives at risk.
Recent polling shows a majority of Americans are worried about exactly that—the safety of their families. Late last month, a combined 54% of Americans said they were either somewhat uncomfortable or very uncomfortable with reopening K-12 schools this fall, according to a Politico/Morning Consult poll.
But since that poll, Trump's beta launch for reopening the economy has gone completely off the rails, with more than 40 states nationwide reporting an increase in coronavirus cases as hospitalizations rise in at least 22 states and testing capacity tanks. In short, thanks to Trump's handiwork, the global pandemic that America had months to prepare for is ripping through the nation unabated.
Early in the pandemic, Trump left states and governors to fend for themselves. Now he's leaving families to do the exact same thing. His incompetence is an endless nightmare playing out in real time for the entire nation. First it doomed the old and vulnerable populations, then the economy. Next up: kids and their families. No one will escape untouched.