With the COVID-19 crisis, the worst-case scenario has often proven too optimistic.
But here it is, for what it’s worth: The loosening up of restrictions that President Donald Trump is now advocating, along with his GOP politician bootlickers and his jackboot demonstrators, would slightly dampen the economic pain but at the same time reignite the coronavirus disease, which would come roaring back with a vengeance.
What Trump and his lackeys are demanding would lower the defenses that have provided some effective barriers and push the country into an irreversible spiral.
His so-called guidelines for reopening the nation were really just nothingburger suggestions that any competent governor could ignore. Some have, but others from the reddest of states are only too eager to please their lord and master.
In just a few days, he has gone from his claim of “total authority” where he would “call the shots” to a complete reversal where now, not only has he told governors “you are going to call your own shots,” but he is heckling from the sidelines.
Trump egged on his hordes with his Twitter messages to “liberate” various states. That liberation would violate his own guidelines. But then Trump has always marched to different guidelines:
Guideline No. 1 -- Create scapegoats. Blame the World Health Organization, Bill Gates, ungrateful governors, particularly Democrats, Democrats in general, media, anybody who gets in the way of his fragile ego.
No. 2 -- Incite his gangs of supporters, who will find their own scapegoats and trash them in their vile ways.
No. 3 -- Ignore facts but take any thoughts, no matter how incendiary or downright stupid, to Twitter.
No. 4 -- Raise false hopes in drugs that don’t work. Make stuff up, like: “We have a great testing system. Right now, we have the best testing system in the world.” He actually said that, even though the United States lags far behind.
No. 5, although it should be No. 1 -- Lie like a rug. Then lie about lying.
As for that testing thingy, the governors and many of our other leaders agree that any phased-in reopening should await an ability to test any and all Americans for COVID. Notwithstanding the president’s departure from reality, that is woefully not the case in this country. However, even if it was, would that be enough to cut back the danger to millions of Americans?
The answer is no. That’s because any test, even if everyone takes it, has limited value. As a prominent epidemiologist told me: “Someone could test negative and then be exposed five minutes later. Also, the sensitivity of the test is imperfect so the test could be a false negative.”
So it’s not really safe to emerge until a credible treatment is developed, and/or a vaccine that is available to everyone and mandatory.
Responsible governors of both parties are being extremely careful how they remove any restrictions, forming multi-state regional groups, in some cases, to decide together. The irresponsible ones, however, are immediately lowering their guards willy-nilly. The problem is the deadly and aggressive coronavirus doesn’t recognize borders.
Back to the Trump personal guidelines ... there is one important one to add: What guidelines?! He doesn’t have any stinking guidelines! He’s all whim. Actually, he’s the biggest problem, short of the coronavirus itself.
Bob Franken is an Emmy Award-winning reporter who covered Washington for more than 20 years with CNN; opinions are his own.