Pondering the Pundits” is an Open Thread. It is a selection of editorials and opinions from around the news media and the internet blogs. The intent is to provide a forum for your reactions and opinions, not just to the opinions presented, but to what ever you find important.
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Eugene Robinson: Trump is on a reckless quest to reopen schools
Is it possible that President Trump could do a worse job handling the covid-19 pandemic, causing even more needless illness and death? I fear we’re about to find out.
“OPEN THE SCHOOLS!!!” he tweeted again this week, for the umpteenth time. That’s the equivalent of chugging blindly down the Niagara River, approaching the lip of the falls — and giving the order to proceed full speed ahead.
Aided and abetted by Republican governors, Trump is pushing hard for in-person classroom instruction this fall in all of the nation’s schools, some of which have already started the new year. He has threatened to withhold federal funding from public school districts that don’t fully open; and while the official White House position acknowledges that “flexibility” is needed, Trump continues to bully local officials to “open 100 percent.”
Trump thinks that saying “OPEN THE SCHOOLS!” over and over will make it happen. Parents and teachers know better
Like a landlord trying to get potential renters to sign the lease before they notice the spreading mildew stain in the ceiling, Donald Trump is hoping to bamboozle Americans into reopening the schools, likely hoping that the coronavirus incubation period will delay a drastic explosion in cases until after Election Day. Despite fawning headlines late last month congratulating Trump for his supposedly “somber” tone and an alleged “shift” to taking the pandemic seriously, our president has returned to his standard operating procedure, which is trying to sell the public on flat-out lies about the coronavirus in much the same way he bamboozled investors into backing his craptastic real estate properties.
The good news, however, is that this probably isn’t working and may even backfire, as the public is simply not interested in the medical opinions of a man who went on live television in April and suggested that since household disinfectants kill coronavirus on countertops, doctors should consider “something like that by injection inside” the lungs of human beings.
“My view is the schools should open. This thing’s going away. It will go away like things go away,” Trump told the credulous crew at “Fox & Friends” on Wednesday morning.
Trump failed to explain the mechanics of how he imagines this working — perhaps by Lysol injections? — nor did any of the so-called “journalists” on Fox News press him on the particulars.
Paul Waldman: Trump’s voter suppression effort has devolved into farce
With less than three months before Election Day, President Trump’s efforts at voter suppression are becoming so desperate that they would not be out of place in a black comedy. It’s one more example of his ability to take something bad that others have done and create his own unique version of it, one that is simultaneously shameless, corrupt, and so ham-handed that it crosses over into farce.
Someone may try to produce a “Veep” or “Dr. Strangelove” satirizing the Trump era, but it won’t manage to be as absurd and horrifying as the reality.
This is illustrated by a pair of lawsuits Republicans have filed in an effort to make voting as difficult as possible in Nevada and Pennsylvania. You may have heard about the former, but the latter is even crazier and has gotten far less attention.
At the end of June, the Trump campaign and the Republican National Committee sued election officials in all 67 counties in Pennsylvania, charging that the use of drop boxes where voters can deliver mail ballots violates the 14th Amendment. This terrifying threat to election integrity, they insisted, must be stopped.
Stephen M. Hahn: FDA commissioner: No matter what, only a safe, effective vaccine will get our approval
Stephen M. Hahn, a physician, is commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration.
Since the outbreak of the covid-19 pandemic, developing a safe and effective vaccine has been an urgent worldwide priority: to save lives, and to bolster the public’s confidence in returning to a semblance of normal life.
At the Food and Drug Administration and our parent agency, the Department of Health and Human Services, we recognize the vital importance of vaccine development. The framework in the United States to support a covid-19 vaccine is now in place. Testing is underway and manufacturing capacity is rapidly expanding. But let’s be clear: The development effort must adhere to standards that will ensure any covid-19 vaccine’s safety and effectiveness.
Large-scale clinical trials already have begun for several promising vaccine candidates. The data from these trials will enable the scientists at the FDA to determine which of these candidates has the greatest potential to provide protection from the virus, what the possible side effects are and how long immunity is likely to last. FDA scientists will need the information to decide whether approval of the vaccine for general use is justified. This fall, we expect to start identifying which vaccine candidates are truly viable.
A friend of mine went to get tested for covid-19 recently and was asked, “Do you want the faster one or the more accurate one?”
The faster test would give her a result within 24 hours. It had a very low false positive rate but a 20 percent false negative rate, meaning that if the result was positive, she almost certainly had covid-19, but if it came back negative, she still had a 20 percent chance of having the disease. The more accurate test had a very low false and false negative rate, but because of the testing backlog, she wouldn’t get the result for 10 days.
As I thought through the decision with her, I saw the question she was asked as the key to our national testing strategy. In the absence of widespread testing that’s both fast and accurate, there’s one question to ask to determine which test you need: What’s your risk of covid-19?