Trump’s break with reality doesn’t change the fact that the virus is still raging, moving anywhere it finds fresh immune systems. Mississippi, for instance, has now captured the spotlight with the nation’s highest positive test rate as a state like Arizona starts receding as one of the country’s biggest hotspots.
But the virus’ distinct incursion into rural areas of Mississippi, Alabama, and California’s Central Valley appear to be posing unique public health risks. First, those areas lack the health infrastructure and medical personnel to combat the virus. But in addition, because the pandemic is now so rampant in both urban and rural areas without any way to tell where people got infected, states are now experiencing what public health officials call “inherent community spread.” The dynamic is making it almost impossible to trace anything, an effort that is even further hobbled by lengthy wait times for test results across the country.
Alabama, for example, implemented a mask mandate in mid-July that appears to be helping slow the spread of the virus. But public health officials there are concerned that long wait times for testing results, sometimes taking as much as two weeks, are discouraging people from knowing their status.
Don Williamson, president of the Alabama Hospital Association, expressed concerns that the state’s hospitals will be overloaded if school reopenings lead to new cases before hospital caseloads fall. The Post reports that 44 of the state’s 67 counties are considered “high risk” or “very high risk.”
As testing times continue to be a problem around the country, even Fox & Friends cohost Brian Kilmeade gave Trump an earful about it when he called into the show Wednesday. “If you’ve got that 15-minute test that the White House has all around the country,” Kilmeade wondered, “Why can’t they flood the country with the Abbott test?”
When Trump interjected that they were doing that, Kilmeade responded, “But where is this test?” After Trump offered up a meaningless statistic, Kilmeade continued, “I don’t know anybody that gets it. They’re all going to these labs and it’s taking forever.”
The upticks in Mississippi, Alabama, and California have coincided with warnings from Trump’s former pet medical expert Dr. Deborah Birx who warned Sunday that the virus had entered a dangerous new phase and was “extraordinarily widespread” in both urban and rural areas now.
All this comes as Trump continues to urge schools to reopen nationwide, citing quack science as a rationale. Trump’s lies about kids being “immune” or “almost immune” to coronavirus were so bad this week that the social media platforms Facebook and Twitter took down posts by his campaign amplifying the claim. When Facebook and Twitter spring into action, you know Trump’s on the verge of burning the whole country down.