Whatever It Is, It’s Getting Worse

The New York Times reports that covid-19 testing sites are overwhelmed, especially in the West and South.

Coronavirus testing sites in Arizona, Florida and Texas have become a source of tension and risk, with numerous residents waiting in long lines, and others being turned away as sites reached capacity. Crowding is raising the risk of infection as people rush to the front of the line at some centers.

Residents of these and other hard-hit U.S. states are turning out in droves to get tested as the virus continues its surge across the South and West, threatening to overwhelm areas that until recently were spared the worst of the pandemic.

“Pushing, yelling, ZERO social distancing enforced,” one Houston resident wrote on Twitter. Two testing sites at Houston stadiums reached capacity just hours after opening on Saturday, according to the local health department. The city’s mayor, Sylvester Turner, has said that intensive care units there are nearly at capacity.

Elsewhere in Texas, Stefano West drove more than an hour from Killeen to Austin to find a testing site, noting that few were available closer to him. He said he then waited about four and a half hours in his car at the site.

Oh, and there’s this:

Nationwide, coronavirus cases have risen 65 percent over the past two weeks.

On Thursday, Trump was in Wisconsin bragging about how great the testing is.

“We have the greatest testing program in the world,” said President Trump. “We’ve developed it over a period of time and we’re up to almost 30-million tests. That means we’re going to have more cases. Deaths are down. We have one of the lowest mortality rates. We’ve done an incredible, historic job.”

That same day, some GOP senators pushed back on the Trump administration plan to end support for testing sites. So, apparently, that really was the plan, even though Trump himself vacillated all last week between saying yes, he wanted to close sites and no, he was just kidding. More recently Trump agreed to extend federal support for testing sites, in Texas. Elsewhere, who knows?

He’s still claiming that there are more cases only because there are more tests, notice. There has been an increase in the percentage of tests coming back positive, meaning that the real number of cases is going up, not just that more cases we wouldn’t have known about are being diagnosed.

I hate to say it, but it’s entirely possible that in a month or two we’re all be back in shelter-in-place mode. Some of us never left, of course.

The one decisive thing Trump did last week to address the pandemic was to suspend work visas, stopping foreigners from entering the country to take or seek jobs. (See: Barn, horse out of.)  He’s still thinking in terms of the virus being a foreign thing that can be locked out.

Meanwhile, a number of other news outlets have confirmed the story about Russia paying bounties to the Taliban to kill U.S. troops. Trump denies that he was ever briefed. People who have worked for previous administrations say of course he was briefed. It’s always possible that Trump was briefed but wasn’t paying attention, or that the people who do the briefing have just plain given up trying to tell him anything and just show him cartoons.

On the other hand, Juan Cole writes that it doesn’t make a lot of sense for Russia to pay the Taliban to kill American soldiers, considering that Russia wants the U.S. to stay in Afghanistan. And that Trump has already pledged to leave Afghanistan. Professor Cole speculates that Russia wanted to piss off Americans so they would stay in Afghanistan.