Trump’s Coronavirus Test Anxiety: Don’t Panic, It’s Only a Pandemic

Mask up. It’s the right thing to do.

I don’t know about you, but I’m not dying to go back to work. It’s been 40 days and 40 nights since I stopped substitute teaching in response to the novel coronavirus pandemic and it’s still not clear if I’m ever going back at all.

I’m 60+ years old, a Hepatitis C survivor, an ex-smoker and ripe for COVID-19, the respiratory disease caused by the virus that is extraordinarily lethal for my age group and above, especially if you have underlying conditions. Public schools are known to be veritable viral petri dishes. Naturally, I want to avoid an impromptu early exit off this mortal coil if possible.

I’ve yet to receive my federal coronavirus stimulus payment (will it be signed by Sharpie?!) or my unemployment benefits, but the checks I am assured are in the mail. Hundreds of millions of ordinary Americans are receiving hundreds of billions of dollars in emergency state and federal spending right along with me.

This funding provides financial support to those of us who’ve lost our jobs, while local, state and federal officials attempt to mitigate the coronavirus pandemic, which has tanked the global economy. Take some deep breaths and relax, while you still have time.

Until a vaccine is available, public officials have essentially three tools for controlling the coronavirus pandemic: promoting public hygiene practices such as frequent hand washing and not touching your face, mandating social distancing measures such as California’s current stay-at-home rules, and widespread testing of individuals for COVID-19.

As of this writing, novel coronavirus has infected more than 2.4 million people globally, killing 166,000 people. The United States leads the world with 762,000 confirmed coronavirus infections and 41,000 deaths. California ranks sixth in the nation with 31,000 confirmed coronavirus cases and 1150 deaths. Shasta County has 26 confirmed COVID-19 cases and 3 deaths.

So far in Shasta County, 979 people have been tested for coronavirus, roughly .5 percent of the county’s 180,000 population, according to the Health and Human Services Agency’s website. Some 953 people have tested negative. Twenty-three people have been placed in quarantine and nine in isolation. Three have succumbed to the virus and 13 have recovered.

But how many more people need to be tested before we can safely go back to work in, say, mid-May?

The short answer to that question is “a lot more than we’re testing now.” According to the New York Times, Harvard University researchers figure California needs to increase its current rate of 26 coronavirus tests per 100,000 people per day by a factor of nearly six, to 152 tests per 100,000 people per day.

Nationally, they suggest testing be boosted from the current 146,000 people per day to 500,000 to 700,000 people per day until mid-May and beyond.

“That level of testing is necessary to identify the majority of people who are infected and isolate them from people who are healthy, according to the researchers,” the Times reported.

Unfortunately, COVID-19 testing is a touchy subject with President Donald Trump. It has been since the very beginning of the pandemic when his own Centers for Disease Control botched the roll-out of its coronavirus test and Trump refused to take responsibility for it.

The CDC and Trump have since ramped up testing capability, to the current 146,000 tests per day, but global supply chains for swabs, chemical reagents and testing materials remain disrupted, and U.S. governors have increasingly turned to the federal government for help.

In response, during Thursday’s roll-out of the Coronavirus Task Force’s cumbersomely titled economic plan, Opening Up America Again, Trump casually announced he didn’t think widespread testing was necessary for loosening some stay-at-home restrictions—even though his new plan calls for widespread testing—and then spent the rest of the week shifting sole responsibility for testing to the states.

“The States have to step up their testing!” Trump tweeted on Friday. Then, somewhat bizarrely, he chose to “LIBERATE” the states of Minnesota, Michigan and Virginia, where Democratic governors face nascent protest movements against their strict stay-at-home policies.

Can’t tell if this guy at the Lansing, Michigan protest is a Trump/Pence supporter or Antifa. From Twitter.

That these states’ current stay-at-home policies mirror those in Opening Up America Again, which had heavy input from Drs. Anthony Fauci and Deborah Birx, his two top infectious disease experts, has apparently not crossed Trump’s mind.

According to the president’s own rules, these stay-at-home policies are required until the states bring their coronavirus case numbers down for a sustained time period. He’s inciting his base to rebel against his own administration’s advice and creating more potential COVID-19 hotspots at the same time.

Seems like someone’s panicking over at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. For the rest of us, the proof will be in the testing, and fortunately the testing is in the president’s plan, which serves as a guideline for states and regions to adapt to their own particular circumstances.

As Shasta County continues to ramp up testing in the coming weeks, more contact tracing will be conducted, and it is probable that more asymptomatic cases of COVID-19 will be discovered. Those cases are important to detect, because the virus is still highly infectious even though the person has no COVID-19 symptoms.

Given that California acted sooner than other states when it issued its stay-at-home order, the wave of coronavirus infections forecast to wash over Shasta County has certainly been blunted, though it hasn’t crested quite yet.

The only way to know for certain if and when it’s safe for everybody to go back to work is testing, testing and more testing. Trump boasts that we’re testing millions and millions of people for COVID-19, but the truth is we’re only testing 146,000 people per day when the Harvard experts say we should be testing 500,000 to 700,000 per day.

Nationally, it seems highly doubtful that we’ll be able to ramp up testing soon enough to reopen significant areas of the country by mid-May, as the president desires.

Remember, those same Harvard experts found that California tests an abysmally low 26 people per 100,000 people per day and would have to boost testing six times that amount, to 152 people per 100,000 people per day in order to open the state by mid-May. If we round up Shasta County’s population to 200,000, figure Shasta County would have to test 150 to 300 people per day in order to open the county for business by mid-May.

That range sounds manageable, as long as supplies and personnel are available, and Shasta County may eventually reach that level of testing, although probably not by mid-May. We’ve bought ourselves some time by blunting the coronavirus, but that time may be wasted if we don’t ramp up testing immediately. I literally can’t believe there’s still time to write that yet again.

Testing matters. If anyone tells you different, they’re lying, even if it’s the president of the United States.

Stay cool, stay calm and stay at home. Mask up on those essential trips. Remember the government check’s in the mail. Don’t panic. It’s just a pandemic. We’ll get through this. No one should be dying to go back to work.

R.V. Scheide
R.V. Scheide has been a northern California journalist for more than 20 years. He appreciates your comments and story ideas. He can be emailed at RVScheide@anewscafe.com.
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57 Responses

  1. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    My wife will be leaving soon for the 6AM senior time at Walmart. Tuesday mornings. The shelves are being more stocked though she sometimes can’t find the brand she wants. Store monitors make sure shoppers practice social distancing and allow no overbuying of products. She has encountered no problems other than an occasional line cutter who the monitors quickly send to the back of the line. All Walmart employees are supposed to now be required to wear masks, she’ll see today. The main thing this is seniors who are taking the COVI threat serious while the younger folk seem to not.
    With the closings of the meat packers in the Midwest she is looking at buying as much meat as she is allowed, with four grandkids at home hot dogs and hamburgers go fast.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I’m happy to report that as far as I can tell with the little essential traveling I’ve been doing in Shasta County, people of all ages are masking up. I won’t be surprised if we get some anti-lockdown protesters, but so far I’ve been pleasantly surprised by our local response to the coronavirus.

  2. My sister in the Bay Area has an auto-immune disease. Since she’s had URI symptoms for more than a week, her doctor wanted her tested for Covid 19 and told her to go to one of the drive-through labs. None of the labs would test her – and her own doctor did not have any advice for her other than – “well, if you get sicker, go to the emergency room.” Real leadership on the testing front is sorely needed.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I find it incomprehensible that someone with symptoms can’t get a test when requested at this late date.

      • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

        I had symptoms in mid-February and couldn’t get tested. IT’S TWO GODDAMNED MONTHS LATER!!!

        TIARA

        (No, I’m not trying to make TIARA catch on. That’s my final use.)

        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          I liked it once you explained what it meant! Some folks wear crowns; the Tweeter wears/is a TIARA. We had symptoms in early December before COVID-19 was even a word in everyone’s vocabulary. Since we thought we “just had the flu,” there was no thought of doing anything other than downing chicken soup and taking to our bed.

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          I thought of you Steve when I read Erin’s comment. It was incomprehensible when they didn’t test you two months ago!

  3. Avatar Randy says:

    The clear path and strategy of Trump is to create as much chaos and confusion as he possibly can while seizing up power and control. He is a petty tyrant even to those who who cling to him out of desperate insecurity. Keeping focused on the facts and listening to voices of reason will get us through. Thanks RV and ANC.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      TIARA

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Randy, judging from the interviews with stay-at-home protesters I’ve seen so far, I’d say they aren’t focused on facts or listening to the voice of reason. Jesus is their vaccine, guns are their antidote, live free or die is their epitaph. Some of these people will literally get sick and die from coronavirus thanks to Trump “liberating” their states. It’s maddening.

      • Avatar Stephanie says:

        My friend shared a picture earlier of a guy in an American flag windbreaker holding a sign that said “GIVE ME LIBERTY OR GIVE ME COVID–19”

        *sigh*

      • Terry Turner Terry Turner says:

        You are so right, R.V. I read a sad commentary on Twitter, talking about the people in Georgia if they choose to go out with COVID-19 cases on the rise in their state: “Some people are going out to get their last mani/pedi.”

        Great article as usual, R.V.!

        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          Up here in the sticks, there is only one beauty salon. I believe she is open for cuts only. She takes one client at a time, finishes with her, ushers her out, closes the door, sanitizes the chair and her tools, and takes the next person. That probably couldn’t happen with a large salon, but it’s a reasonable answer for a one-person shop.

        • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

          Massage and tattoo parlors, essential businesses.

  4. Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

    I feel like l could save myself a lot of time if I stopped my long critiques and criticisms of Trump’s horribly botched COVID-19 response here and elsewhere, and just kept it to” Trump is a Royal Asshole” (or even shorter: TIARA).

    I have to say, though: It’s been clear for quite some time that Trump is incapable of effectively leading us through this—his focus is claiming infallibility while blame-casting. Necessary widespread testing and contact tracing isn’t going to emerge as a function of Trump’s “me me me” agenda.

    So why hasn’t Gov. Newsome grabbed that baton and run with it? Where is California’s comprehensive testing and contact tracing?

    • Avatar Robert V. Scheide SR. says:

      I like Tiara

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I like TIARA too, and it fits with the coronavirus pandemic aesthetically. Trump is in full-blown panic mode, and it’s difficult keeping up with his endless spew of self-aggrandizement and false allegations. His conduct has become so unpresidential, he is hard to watch and even harder to write about. It’s embarrassing he’s the president of the United States. The office will be forever diminished.

      • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

        I saw, but unfortunately didn’t purchase, a t-shirt that had “Sorry About Our President” in probably a dozen languages. TIARA indeed.

        • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

          I’ve seen that shirt. I don’t know where I’d wear it. There are many parts of the world where I’d just as soon tell people I’m Canadian if they ask

  5. Avatar Common Sense says:

    The Orange Guy is playing his part in the Drama perfectly. This whole thing we have going on is just exposing that “normal” is broken, similar to our current leadership.

    From people protesting their right to get infected and infect others (ya can’t fix stupid) to shutting down the borders for racist reasons, the power grab and slashing and burning is only what some in the Amazon can relate to.

    And this is all before we Even Bring Up What Climate Change is doing, only understood by anyone with a fully functioning brain!

    The Check’s in the Mail R.V!……yours and mine.

    https://www.theatlantic.com/magazine/archive/2020/06/underlying-conditions/610261

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Regarding “the check’s in the mail:” I went online just to see if we are even eligible because I have no idea if retirees are part of the mix. I completed the three-question form: SSN, address, and ZIP code using my husband’s SSN. He’s had the same SSN for about 70 years, we’ve lived at this address for over 26 years, and we have e-filed taxes for several years. However, the message that came on the screen is that the information I entered doesn’t match their records. Huh?

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Beverly, one issue I heard about concerning retirees is that if you HAVEN’T filed taxes for the past several years because you’re not required to, you have to send a form in to the IRS in order to get your check.

        • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

          We’re among those who have filed for 50 years and will be mandated to do so henceforth. Nice that the IRS takes our $$$ but doesn’t recognize us. And another “I’m from the gum’mint and I’m here to help you:” we didn’t receive the census form. As I stated above, we have lived here for over 26 years. However, we did find the notice at our Redding residence. I went online to complete the form, and one of the questions was whether we had a second residence. I checked the Yes box only to find that by doing that, it was taken for granted that we lived in the second residence more than in our primary residence. So I hit the Back button and checked the No box.

      • I hear you, Beverly, and am having similar problems when I check. Here’s the message I get: “Payment Status Not Available
        According to information that we have on file, we cannot determine your eligibility for a payment at this time.”

        Maddening. And another member of my family gets a message that says the IRS doesn’t recognize the SS number, though it was fine when taxes were filed last month. So frustrating!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I’ve always maintained that you CAN fix stupid, but I’m losing faith in that day by day.

  6. Avatar Common Sense says:

    Now they say 8 Different Strains of this Covid-19 Virus! How in God’s green earth do you come up with a Vaccine to take on these if they are Mutating that fast???….Stay up on the Hill R.V. You are safest up there……Take a Motorcycle ride out on the back roads…..picturing that all elusive check in the mail becoming reality some day.

    https://www.foxnews.com/health/how-coronavirus-mutating-into-different-strains

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      There are 30,000+ base pairs on the SARS-CoV-2 RNA strand, and coronaviruses are slow to mutate in a meaningful way. The vast majority of point mutations don’t have any functional significance, and have no bearing on the efficacy of a vaccine.

      The variants are useful for tracking infection routes, though. For example, It’s pretty clear that the prevalent strain in California came from China, probably via Washington (state). The earliest New York variant came from Europe (but now the East Coast has variants from several sources, owing to our sluggish start to shelter in place and lock down on travel).

      • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

        Steve, it does indeed look like our strain of coronavirus probably came from Washington state. That’s the same route the 1918 flu pandemic took as well, via rail in that case. Needless to say, there’s a lot more vectors in that corridor nowadays.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Common Sense, the more we learn about this coronavirus, the more complex coming up with a vaccine appears. What if they can’t come up with a vaccine?

      • Avatar Common Sense says:

        They will come up with a Vaccine. The question is when not if. There is too much money at stake. If they can charge the Government and people $300.00 for a shot
        ( Because you can’t quite comparison shop) X the hundreds of millions of Americans….pretty good payday to add to the $550 Billion a year Cash RX Machine.

        The “Normal” that many say they want back won’t be coming back. Those days are over. It was broken….the Virus just hurried the process. We are at cross roads. We can’t go back to the broken, the lets pollute the air and the oceans and the earth and burn down the rain forests etc.

        The Shift is happening…….we are being invited to Open up our Minds and Learn and Grow. It’s a Shift in Consciousness that is Occurring. Some will take the invitation and go within…many will not.

  7. Avatar Robert V. Scheide SR. says:

    Testing should be our pointed stick, keep jabbing an jabbing, till THE ORANGE BALLOON bursts.

    From the very start Trump has lied time after time, in fact you can tell if he is lying, are his lips moving, then he is lying.

    Now he is pushing to open up the states that are dumb enough to do it. Fortunately a lot of governors have stepped though they have hampered by the Trump buying supplies out from under them and have forceabley stolen them.

    While everyone is focusing on the virus the country is barreling toward THE GREATEST DEPRESSION.

    Every state will need financial assistance but will the Republican controlled Senate will be hard to bring on board. The people will need monthly help till we bring the jobs back. Will that happen? The only leverage we have is show him daily that doing nothing will bring his defeat. YOU KNOW WHAT TO DO.

  8. Avatar Ann Webber says:

    Patience is a virtue never had a better application than now. It is about all we have until those checks find their way to us. Crashed websites and “Payment Status Not Available” are the daily routine. Meanwhile, having been raised by depression era frugal parents, I’m fortunate to have a well stocked pantry and freezer! And good journalism! Thanks RV.

  9. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    Everybody in my family have received our checks because we filed tax returns and used direct deposit. Yes, retirees are eligible for checks with the same income factors as everybody else. Arizona news has been broadcasting that since the checks were mentioned.

    • Avatar Beverly Stafford says:

      Apparently the Staffords are invisible to the IRS. But they certainly don’t turn down the 20% of our RMD that we fork over every year.

  10. R.V., I understand why you’d want to hang up the substitute teaching gig, but I’ll bet those kids will miss you. I’m guessing you’re a fun teacher.

    And I agree with Common Sense about it being best that you stay up on the hill.

    Thank you, R.V.

    Stay safe!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Doni, when I stepped back from substitute teaching, I was so relieved about making the decision that I didn’t miss the students for the first couple of weeks. Now I miss the students and I’m in a quandary, because depending on what we learn about coronavirus in the next couple of months is going to determine whether I can continue teaching. I wish I’d taken up teaching years ago, I’ve only been doing it for three years, I always thought that I would hate teaching, but it turns out I really like it.

      Yeah the hill is feeling pretty safe these days!

  11. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    Monday the 13th 80 million taxpayers that have IRS direct deposit received their checks. The only hang up was that a few small credit unions held the checks for three days because they said it took that long to post. I think that was a scam as I use a credit union right there in Redding and our $2400.00 check was available on the 13th.
    Moving from Wyoming to Arizona and banking in Redding I thought I might have problems but no it went smoothly.

  12. Avatar Gracious Palmer says:

    Thank you. I like the term “Orange Balloon. I also like “The Liar ? in Chief” and “Pinocchio.” I agree testing, testing, testing. I miss our scholars, students, pupils, and, yes, even the young people merely occupying a seat. I may not be patient; however, I am persistent. Again, thank you, RV.

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I love the Orange Balloon and the poking it with a stick comment from my Dad too. I”m going to steal it.

  13. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    I don’t think for one minute if myself or a loved one had CovidVirus I would want to play the game of drug trial placebo so just please give me what has been proven to work time and time again….

    “More Good News on Remdesivir’s Power to Treat COVID-19”

    https://www.usnews.com/news/health-news/articles/2020-04-21/more-good-news-on-remdesivirs-power-to-treat-covid-19

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Hi Chris. I think remdesivir is a heck of lot more promising than hydroxychloroquine! Six months to a year before we get the first trial results verses placebo. Being in the trial would be OK if 1) it works 2) it doesn’t work but there’s no horrific side effects or 3) the placebo effect took place an you were cured anyway.

  14. Avatar Chris Solberg says:

    Should be an interesting summer R.V. 😉

    Vision of the Summer Fruit

    8 Thus the Lord God showed me: Behold, a basket of summer fruit. 2 And He said, “Amos, what do you see?”
    So I said, “A basket of summer fruit.”
    Then the Lord said to me:
    “The end has come upon My people Israel;
    I will not pass by them anymore.
    3
    And the songs of the temple
    Shall be wailing in that day,”
    Says the Lord God—
    “Many dead bodies everywhere,
    They shall be thrown out in silence.”
    4
    Hear this, you who [a]swallow up the needy,
    And make the poor of the land fail,
    5 Saying:
    “When will the New Moon be past,
    That we may sell grain?
    And the Sabbath,
    That we may [b]trade wheat?
    Making the ephah small and the shekel large,
    Falsifying the scales by deceit,
    6
    That we may buy the poor for silver,
    And the needy for a pair of sandals—
    Even sell the bad wheat?”
    7
    The Lord has sworn by the pride of Jacob:
    “Surely I will never forget any of their works.
    8
    Shall the land not tremble for this,
    And everyone mourn who dwells in it?
    All of it shall swell like [c]the River,
    Heave and subside
    Like the River of Egypt.
    9
    “And it shall come to pass in that day,” says the Lord God,
    “That I will make the sun go down at noon,
    And I will darken the earth in [d]broad daylight;
    10
    I will turn your feasts into mourning,
    And all your songs into lamentation;
    I will bring sackcloth on every waist,
    And baldness on every head;
    I will make it like mourning for an only son,
    And its end like a bitter day.
    11
    “Behold, the days are coming,” says the Lord God,
    “That I will send a famine on the land,
    Not a famine of bread,
    Nor a thirst for water,
    But of hearing the words of the Lord.
    12
    They shall wander from sea to sea,
    And from north to east;
    They shall run to and fro, seeking the word of the Lord,
    But shall not find it.
    13
    “In that day the fair virgins
    And strong young men
    Shall faint from thirst.
    14
    Those who swear by the [e]sin of Samaria,
    Who say,
    ‘As your god lives, O Dan!’
    And, ‘As the way of Beersheba lives!’
    They shall fall and never rise again.”

    Amos 8

  15. Avatar bruce vojtecky says:

    As the news shows that nursing homes/long term care are responsible for between 30% to 50% of the COVI deaths including here in Phoenix I would ask how safe are the nursing homes in Redding? It seems that those nursing homes nationwide and owned by national companies are reluctant to share information. As I have not seen any NH deaths reported in Redding what’s their secret?

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      Yep. That’s the thing everyone’s wondering about. Those numbers should be revealed locally in the coming weeks.

    • Steve Towers Steve Towers says:

      Bruce — I don’t think there’s a secret. We’re still on lag time—it’s not yet reached critical mass here. Once it does, we would expect nursing homes to be hit hardest. I believe one of our three fatalities was a nursing home resident—that’s within your 30-50%.

  16. Avatar Common Sense says:

    The Orange Guy needs every vote he can get but the Seniors out there are not having any of the-
    “Let’s Sacrifice” Granny for the Economy!

    Can someone out there explain why Most Republicans value money over People? Anyone?

    https://www.rawstory.com/2020/04/a-stunning-reversal-trumps-approval-plummets-among-older-americans-as-he-pushes-to-re-open-despite-covid-19-crisis/

  17. A.J. A.J. says:

    No, you can’t fix stupid, it’s true, but if stupid keeps defying directives, Darwin’s Theory might just take care of it. I realize, of course, that it would take peripheral innocents along with the idiots. Sigh!!

    • R.V. Scheide R.V. Scheide says:

      I idea that you CAN’T fix stupid sort of defeats the whole purpose of journalism!

    • Avatar Common Sense says:

      Indeed A.J. If one is not thinking of others and the whole one would be very selfish. And one that thinks of himself only and makes decisions to benefit himself only would be called rather shallow. We have seen now what that looks like at the highest level.