Douglas Andrews / October 8, 2020

Trump Shows How to Live With COVID

When he told us not to let it dominate our lives, the president was onto something.

It’s been a tough couple of weeks for the American president. A steady stream of bad news and some self-inflicted wounds — all of it amplified by a mainstream media whose sad, singular mission is to send him packing — have left Donald Trump with some serious catching up to do. But he was down big to Hillary Clinton with a month to go, and we all know how that turned out.

Still, things need to start turning around right now.

And maybe they already have. The first glimmer of hope came yesterday with a left-leaning Morning Consult poll that showed support for President Trump’s Supreme Court nominee, Amy Coney Barrett, having spiked significantly. In two weeks, the percentage of voters now supporting her confirmation has gone from 37 to 46, while just 31% now oppose her. Given Judge Barrett’s sterling credentials and her thoughtful temperament, we can expect the confirmation process to work in the president’s favor between now and Election Day.

Another glimmer appeared last night, as Mike Pence cleaned Kamala Harris’s clock in the vice presidential debate. In doing so, Pence displayed poise, class, and an absolute command of the issues — so much so that a post-debate snap poll from WGN had him winning it 69-29. Our Thomas Gallatin has a detailed analysis of the debate here.

Still another glimmer, though, might come from the unlikeliest of places: the COVID pandemic. Right or wrong — and it’s mostly wrong — this issue has been President Trump’s Achilles heel so far in the campaign, with a phony narrative of equal parts indifference, negligence, and malfeasance being pushed by the Democrats and their media partners. But when, just before leaving Walter Reed Medical Center on Monday, the president tweeted, “Don’t be afraid of Covid. Don’t let it dominate your life,” he may have been onto something.

In essence, the president was saying that we need to get on with our lives. And, as it turns out, three of the world’s most highly regarded infectious disease experts think he’s right. Harvard’s Martin Kulldorff, Oxford’s Sunetra Gupta, and Stanford’s Jay Bhattacharya have organized “the Great Barrington Declaration,” which recommends that people be allowed to live normal lives while protecting the vulnerable from the coronavirus.

“As infectious disease epidemiologists and public health scientists,” they write, “we have grave concerns about the damaging physical and mental health impacts of the prevailing COVID-19 policies, and recommend an approach we call Focused Protection.” And it’s not just these three scientists. The statement has already been signed by thousands of medical and health scientists and practitioners.

The authors point to the collateral damage caused by government lockdowns, including increased depression levels, substance abuse, drug overdoses, and rising unemployment. As The Wall Street Journal’s editorial board writes, “Reams of public-health data and medical literature agree. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention estimates that there have been 93,814 non-Covid ‘excess deaths’ this year, including 42,427 from cardiovascular conditions, 10,686 from diabetes and 3,646 from cancer. Many are due to government shutdowns of non-essential medical care.”

The authors also put numbers to something we’ve known since the earliest days of the pandemic: The old and infirm are more than a thousand times more vulnerable to COVID death than are the young. “Our goal,” they say, “should therefore be to minimize mortality and social harm until we reach herd immunity.”

“The shame,” the Journal concludes, “is that Covid has become so politicized that the calm reasoning of the Great Barrington scientists is drowned out by the fear and loathing of those who want to blame Donald Trump for every new infection. But it is the best advice for how we should cope with Covid.”

We’re less than a month from Election Day. If the Great Barrington Declaration ultimately gains acceptance here in the U.S., Donald Trump, with his call to keep from letting COVID dominate our lives, will have helped show the way. Whether his many detractors like it or not.

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