Museum of America in the Pandemic Year, 2020

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Oct 6: Trump initially threatens to suspend discussions with Congress over coronavirus unemployment relief until after the election, but quickly changes course and demands immediate approval of a new round of stimulus checks. Facebook announces that it will ban QAnon groups. A St. Louis grand jury indicts the white couple, Mark and Patricia McCloskey, who brandished guns at Black Lives Matter protesters who marched past their home in June. More than 4 million Americans have voted already, more than 50 times more than the number that had cast ballots at this point in the 2016 election.

From the Cutting Room Floor ...

I had hoped so much that the president would emerge from his experience with this virus humbler, more empathetic, attuned to the needs of this hurting country in the middle of its worst pandemic in a century. That’s how his campaign is pitching it. Trump’s campaign spokesperson, Erin Perinne, said today that his “first hand experiences” are something that Biden does not have. No one notes that Biden’s negative test results have come as a result of his mask wearing and adherence to social distancing rules. Instead, Trump’s refusal to follow basic public health guidelines, which led to his infection, somehow seems to have made him more presidential in the eyes of his followers.[1]

Perhaps more shocking is the return today to ‘flu is worse’ messaging that was so prevalent in March and April. Even with the flu vaccine, “over 100,000” die from it in a year, claimed the president, as he struggled to breathe from his bought with COVID-19. He claims again that coronavirus restrictions are not necessary. I find myself deeply concerned that nothing will be done to curb the spread of the virus in December and January—just like in March and April. Over 200,000 people have died, and yet Trump and his administration seem to be signaling it’s still not a big enough deal.[2]

Now, in a moment when we most need the government arm of the science world to take the helm with sound, consistent messaging, the CDC today showed a level of sluggish ineptitude that is hard to miss. Today they issued a guidance saying that coronavirus can sometimes be airborne for long periods of time, not just from sneezes and heavy breathing.[3] Scientists have known this for months, arguing that ventilation is one of the most important factors in mitigating the spread.[4]

With all of the seeming missteps taken by the CDC this year, scientists are beginning to question the agency. “Can we still trust the CDC and FDA (and other federal agencies, like the NIH, ostensibly dedicated to upholding policy based on good science)?” asks David H. Gorski, MD, PhD, FACS, a surgical oncologist at the Barbara Ann Karmanos Cancer Institute, the American College of Surgeons Committee on Cancer, and an Associate Professor of Surgery and Cancer Biology at Wayne State University. Though he agrees that these federal agencies are capable of providing guidance and support on “most topics,” Gorski fears that, “for COVID-19 increasingly the answer is no.”[5]




[1] Stephen Collinson, “Trump’s Erratic Behavior Continues as He Halts Stimulus Talks and Spreads Falsehoods on Pandemic,” CNN, October 7, 2020,

[2] Philip Bump, “Analysis | How the White House Is Trying to Convince America That Trump’s Illness Isn’t a Big Deal,” Washington Post, October 4, 2020,

[3] CDC, “Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) – Transmission,” Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, October 5, 2020,

[4] Will Feuer, “CDC Revises Coronavirus Guidance to Acknowledge That It Spreads through Airborne Transmission,” CNBC, October 5, 2020,; Azeen Ghorayshi and Stephanie M. Lee, “The CDC Finally Acknowledged That The Coronavirus Can Spread Through Air,” BuzzFeed News, October 5, 2020,

[5] David Gorski, “In the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Can We Trust the CDC and FDA Any More?,” Science-Based Medicine, September 14, 2020,

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Trump saying "flu is worse" in October

Bloomberg Quicktake: Now. Trump Says A Coronavirus Vaccine Could Be Ready In October At A White House Briefing. Bloomberg Quicktake, 2020.


Feuer, Will. “CDC Revises Coronavirus Guidance to Acknowledge That It Spreads through Airborne Transmission.” CNBC, October 5, 2020.

Ghorayshi, Azeen, and Stephanie M. Lee. “The CDC Finally Acknowledged That The Coronavirus Can Spread Through Air.” BuzzFeed News, October 5, 2020.

Diamond, Dan. “Trump Officials Interfered with CDC Reports on Covid-19.” POLITICO, September 11, 2020.

Radcliffe, Shawn. “9 Pharma Companies Promise COVID-19 Vaccine Safety in Open Letter.” Healthline, September 9, 2020.

“Biopharma Leaders Unite to Stand with Science.” Business Wire, September 8, 2020.

Gorski, David. “In the Age of the COVID-19 Pandemic, Can We Trust the CDC and FDA Any More?” Science-Based Medicine, September 14, 2020.

O’Reilly, Andrew. “Trump HHS Spokesperson Michael Caputo Deletes Twitter Account after Late-Night Rant.” Fox News, September 14, 2020.

McCarthy, Robert J. “Michael Caputo Receives ‘Metastatic Head and Neck Cancer’ Diagnosis.” The Buffalo News, September 24, 2020.

Murray, Sara, and Kevin Liptak. “Trump Has Personally Pressured Drug Company CEOs Repeatedly to Speed Vaccine.” CNN, October 6, 2020.

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