According to the Centers for Disease Control, 2020 is on track to be the deadliest year in U.S. history, with more than 3 million deaths expected by the end of December — about 400,000 more recorded deaths than in 2019. The dramatic increase in deaths is due in large part to the coronavirus pandemic.
Recent news reports found through internal emails that top Trump appointee Paul Alexander, a Health and Human Services adviser until his departure this past fall, repeatedly urged government health officials to adopt a “herd immunity” approach to COVID-19, encouraging millions of Americans be infected by the virus.
Although the distribution of vaccines has begun, the second wave of the pandemic continues to burn through the U.S., with a death toll over 320,000, the most fatalities from the virus anywhere in the world. Between The Lines’ Scott Harris spoke with William Rivers Pitt, senior editor and lead columnist with Truthout.org, who explains why he believes that Trump’s pursuit of a coronavirus herd immunity strategy, is likely responsible for killing many thousands of Americans.
WILLIAM RIVERS PITT: On a July 4th, no less, email from a former Health and Human Services science adviser Paul Alexander: “There is no other way we need to establish herd immunity. And it only comes about allowing the non high-risk groups expose themselves to the virus, period. Infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle age with no conditions, et cetera, have zero to little risk. So we use them to develop herd. We want them infected.”
The astonishing gall of saying that these groups of people, infants, kids, teens, young people, young adults, middle-aged with no conditions are not susceptible. If even if even 1 percent of that group of people find themselves susceptible — and it’s far more than that — but if even 1 percent found themselves susceptible to COVID — if I were in a courtroom, I would call it negligent homicide to get the conviction, but it’s second degree and first degree murder.
This is what these people pursued right out there in broad daylight, in emails to each other. Michael Caputo, who’s Paul Alexander’s boss at HHS was equally vocal about this. And Scott Atlas, the sort of the anti-Fauci who just beamed himself in the middle of this thing, was even more vocal about the idea that there’s nothing we can do about this. So let’s just let it burn through.
SCOTT HARRIS: Trump through all these months of the pandemic has weaponized COVID. He’s created mask wearing and social distancing into a culture war weapon. And you have people like Jared Kushner, his son-in-law, who according to reports in a meeting basically said, “That’s their problem,” when it came to New York at the height of the coronavirus, where many people were hospitalized and thousands were dying. Again, the Trump administration, Donald Trump himself weaponized this COVID virus to attack his perceived political enemies — Democrats in the big cities that were going to get hit hard. And the thinking I guess, was that his white supporters in rural states would be safe. Obviously that’s not true. Thousands are dying as we speak everywhere across the country. But this was the kind of warped thinking that we had here from the Trump regime.
WILLIAM RIVERS PITT: I do not believe that these people — they do not have anything even vaguely representing a defining philosophy. There’s no rudder in the water. And you point out correctly that they let states like New York, Massachusetts and California burn for months because those are blue states. And this is all a blue state problem. And they’ve sold the great bulge of America, as Jack Kerouac called it, on the idea that this was a black people problem and a Latino problem, and a big Democratic city problem. That all of you are fine. So we’re not going to really do anything about it.
And then the way I’ve always described COVID is that it’s like water. It will find every seam, every hole, every pinprick, every crack and it will pour through. The COVID found all the huge gaping holes and seams in the great bulge of America and turned itself loose upon Trump’s core supporters. And guess what? They still didn’t do anything because they had no plan. They were jumping from stone to stone.
SCOTT HARRiS: I think the big question for our country right now is, “Is there accountability for a deliberate policy that brought about mass murder of now more than 300,000 Americans who’ve died?” according to a Columbia University study, a majority of those deaths could have been prevented, had precautions been put in place as was advocated by public health experts across country.
WILLIAM RIVERS PITT: If McConnell and the Republicans don’t manage to hold on to the Senate after these runoffs, there’s no reason why various House committees can’t run their own commissions and investigations. They’re free and clear from all of that. All Biden has to do is stay the hell out of the way. His Justice Department is equally free to, you know — barring wholesale pardons — and then off in the distance are our friends up in New York state where (State Attorney General) Letitia James and (District Attorney of New York County, New York) Cyrus Vance in the DA’s office to get back to the original point. There’s no reason under any whatever variety of circumstances may come down the pike. There’s no reason why a House Committee or several Democratically-controlled House Committees cannot call as many witnesses as they choose to get to the bottom of what the hell happened here.