ANDREA MITCHELL, TONY FAUCI, THE PANDEMIC…AND WHITE HOUSE XMAS PARTIES
Andrea Mitchell, esteemed Host of MSNBC’s Andrea Mitchell Reports, looks at guest Anthony Fauci with admiration, bemusement and bewilderment.
It is clear she has great respect for Fauci, the NIAID (National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases) Director since 1984 — and the nation’s top infectious disease expert — who has been thrust into the global spotlight once again, as the country and the world are in the stranglehold of the coronavirus.
Naturally the topic of discussion is the pandemic.
Fauci’s outlook is understandably grim as he describes “a surge superimposed on the surge” effect taking place, all over, and he hastens to add that the numbers from recently concluded Thanksgiving travel — against which he had strongly advised — have not yet been crunched.
Figures are due imminently and will be analyzed.
It won’t be pretty.
And then of course, Christmas is coming.
Fauci has warned about a rising surge in cases due to holiday events, ’til he’s blue in the face.
“What we expect, unfortunately, as we go for the next couple of weeks into December, is that we might see a surge superimposed on the surge we are already in,” he explained. “I don’t want to frighten people, except to say it is not too late to do something about this.”
He continued, “We are going to have to make decisions as a nation, state, city and family that we are in a very difficult time, and we’re going to have to do the kinds of restrictions of things we would have liked to have done, particularly in this holiday season, because we’re entering into what’s really a precarious situation.”
Melania Trump, she of the cavalier attitude — and the “who gives a fuck about Christmas decorations, anyway?” renown — notwithstanding, there are no fewer than 25 indoor holiday gatherings on the White House docket, being planned to the last detail.
Think any masks will be worn?
(Official word? ‘Encouraged, not required.’)
This is what causes Mitchell to shake her head in wonder when interviewing Fauci.
Do irresponsibility and ignorance know no bounds?
The president and the first lady are determined to have a final holiday season in the White House, with a pandemic that has killed more than 270,000 Americans and infected 13 million across the country, raging.
Many of the administration’s supporters have taken a narrow, skeptical view of the science-based restrictions targeted at combating the virus, and are choosing to be jolly, what the hell, officials said.
Congregating in large group settings doesn’t seem to bother them, although the track record of doing so speaks for itself.
(See the ceremony for Supreme Court Justice Amy Coney Barrett’s nomination and an election night gala, in terms of the fallout).
The Christmas events, including a congressional ball scheduled for December 10, will each include more than 50 guests and certainly pose a grave risk to the health of White House staffers and others who work at the parties.
And most revelers will not be tested in advance.
Health experts are dismayed to say the very least.
Not only are cases increasing across the country, but also specifically in the Washington area.
And travel by many guests from outside D.C. most probably would be in violation of myriad state and city restrictions.
Kavita Patel, a fellow at the Brookings Institution who worked on health policy in the Obama administration, cuts right to the chase.
And suffice to say, she doesn’t suffer fools gladly.
“Our rates in the area, just in the region, are going up at a degree where it’s hard now to trace or identify sources of infections, and testing alone is no longer protective unless you’re testing and technically quarantining, which I doubt these people are,” she began. “While colleagues of mine are literally leaving families and living in garages and trying to help take care of covid patients, this feels like another slap in the face.
That is a disaster.”
Echoed Gregg Gonsalves, an epidemiologist at the Yale School of Public Health, “The White House is…sending out 2020 with a bang. Indoor gatherings like this at a time of high community spread of SARS-CoV2 puts [those] at the White House holiday [parties] at risk, as well as staff who must work the [events].
It’s characteristic of the irresponsibility that has defined the administration’s approach to the pandemic.
It’s cavalier, selfish and wrong.”
Trump of course, has shown no inclination to avoid attending large events, in spite of having contracted the virus in early October.
No surprise there.
The president aside, scads of White House aides, including the chief of staff, the national security adviser, and the press secretary have also contracted the virus.
And now Rudy Giuliani.
This mentality of blatantly disregarding the facts, further befuddles Mitchell.
How can people be so dumb?
Should rigid punitive measures be adopted?
Should there be stringent, uniform nationwide restrictions put into place by the federal government?
If we had somebody in the White House who gave a damn and was on it from the jump, perhaps we’d be out of this mess by now.
Instead, we have those who are hellbent for election to make it worse.
And this is why Andrea Mitchell can only shake her head when she looks at Fauci.
[Editor’s Note: This piece was written by Mr. Kaplan in December 2020.]