“The next two weeks are extraordinarily important. This is the moment to not be going to the grocery store, not going to the pharmacy, but doing everything you can to keep your family and your friends safe and that means everybody doing the six-feet distancing, washing their hands.”
—Dr. Deborah Birx, the White House’s pandemic response coordinator, at today’s briefing, after explaining the deaths were expected to “spike” in certain hot spots.
It would be difficult to compose more incompetent and irresponsible statement.
The President had just made a hash of his remarks, saying at one point that there would be “a lot of death,” and at another that he hoped there could be some way to relax the national guidelines to allow Easter services. That’s a non-sequitur, since he announced no changes. I certainly understand why this kind of POTUS free association musing during a time of such uncertainty drives people crazy, even those who aren’t already bonkers from the Trump Derangement virus.
The President, however is expected to make no sense much of the time. Dr. Birx is supposed to be a trustworthy voice of expertise in the middle of chaos.
Guess not. Consider her statement:
- It doesn’t figure that the weeks where a sharp increase in deaths are expected would be weeks requiring universal home quarantine, which is what she appeared to be advocating. The virus isn’t going to get more infectious.
- When I went to the local grocery store two days ago, with my Roy Rogers cowboy mask, nobody came within ten feet of me until checkout, never mind six. So because there are going to be “lots of deaths” nationwide, that means my precautions suddenly are no good, so I have to resort to living on Halloween candy and old dog biscuits? This makes no sense.
- Gee, we are told on Saturday that we can’t shop for groceries or get our drugs refilled for the next two weeks? Thanks for the advance notice, Doc, but no can do.
- The suggestion, in fact, is ridiculous and largely impossible. Impossible demands are useless, indeed worse than useless, since they undermine the credibility of those who make such statements.
- What has made grocery stores and pharmacies suddenly deadly now, when they weren’t yesterday, in, say, Alexandria, Virginia, where there are 68 cases reported so far in a rather large county? New York City this isn’t.
- This isn’t a hot spot either. Giving blanket, one size fits all draconian directives as if the entire country is New York, New Jersey, New Orleans, Detroit and California is lazy and self-evidently unreasonable.
- If those precautions we have been taking are suddenly no good, why does Dr. Birx still give us the same old “wash your hands and social distancing” song and dance? If we can’t even go to the grocery store for basics, then presumably we can’t go out at all. If we can’t go out at all, when do we practice social distancing?
- Perhaps worst of all, I expect her statement to spark panic buying tomorrow, as everyone tries to stock up on two weeks of food and drugs.
- Finally, why only two weeks? The period seems completely arbitrary. What happens after the two weeks, when everyone has eaten their cats and is near death from not taking their medications? Will we be told to dig holes and crawl into them? What? WHAT??
Birx’s statement will only increase cynicism among members of the public that are tending that way already. The President’s incurable laziness with language is only tolerable if his experts are clear, careful, responsible,and seen as trustworthy. Incompetent statement’s like today’s do tangible damage, and there had better not be more like it.