(CNN)On the day the US surpassed another tragic milestone — 150,000 coronavirus deaths — it became ever clearer that pseudo-science, ideological posturing and mocking the idea of a national strategy are no way to fight a deadly pandemic.
Yet President Donald Trump, his friends in Congress, members of his Cabinet, senior staff and supporters are still setting out to undermine the fact-based approaches that might get the virus under control and restore normal life.
Trump headed to Texas, currently a massive coronavirus hotspot, on a distraction mission, enjoying a photo op at an oil rig after another episode of his traveling medicine show promoting hydroxychloroquine.
“All I want to do is save lives,” Trump said of a drug that his own government regulators say is not an effective cure for Covid-19.
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But he was not accompanied on his trip by Republican Rep. Louie Gohmert of Texas, who discovered before getting aboard Air Force One that he had Covid-19. The congressman tested positive for coronavirus Wednesday morning during a pre-flight screening at the White House.
Gohmert has ostentatiously avoided wearing a mask. And he used his diagnosis — thanks to that White House test — to further trash science and undermine government medical advice by misleadingly suggesting his recent use of a face covering may have gotten him sick.
Another Trump acolyte, national security adviser Robert O’Brien, who works within yards of the Oval Office in Trump’s mask-free West Wing, found that he had Covid-19 late last week.
Former White House physician Dr. Ronny Jackson, now a Trump-style congressional candidate, was seen in Texas heading to greet the President on Wednesday also without wearing a mask. Until there is a vaccine, government health experts say wearing a mask and social distancing are crucial to slowing the spread of the disease.
Republican senators, meanwhile, pressed ahead with their effort to reduce unemployment benefits in an effort to force people back to work to fire up the economy Trump needs to win reelection. Democrats want to extend benefits at their full value of $600 a week, arguing that many Americans are worried about getting back on the job with the virus wave still breaking across the country.
And Trump’s Education Secretary Betsy DeVos dismissed calls for the Trump administration to release a national plan aimed at opening schools, saying there was no place for such federal power flexing. But she still used her national platform to demand that all schools open even though the virus still rages in multiple hot zones.
“There’s not a national superintendent nor should there be, therefore there’s not a national plan for reopening,” DeVos said during a trip to North Carolina with Vice President Mike Pence. She praised a local private school for its reopening plans. Such institutions typically have smaller classes and more resources than public schools which often cram 30 or more kids in a classroom.
Trump ally Ron DeSantis, the Republican governor of Florida, defended his own decision to reopen schools, ignoring the fact that his state just posted another daily record for Covid-19 deaths on Wednesday.
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