Think About It: Nonsensical

“Nonsensical” is the musical way of saying something is nonsense, ridiculous, absurd and irrational. The word seems old-fashioned, which I confirmed through trivial pursuit research and found “nonsensical” dates back to the 1650s.

“Nonsensical” is how the newest White House press secretary, Kayleigh McEnany, responded to a reporter’s question about plans for testing for the Coronavirus. The question seemed more serious than ridiculous given that just about every public health expert and physician said testing to confirm the presence of the virus in humans and follow up contact tracing was necessary to control COVID-19 outbreaks or what we’re now calling “hotspots.”

McEnany explained her reference to the absurdity of testing for the virus by saying people would just keep wanting to be tested even if tested the day before and found to be negative for the virus. She was accurately relaying the President Trump’s views of coronavirus testing.

I heard the president express the same sentiment about people wanting to be tested when they had already been found negative. Both seemed to seal their argument for a no-testing strategy by adding that the test was only as good as of the moment it was taken.

I missed the logic in the explanation because finding the virus seemed to me the point of testing. That is unless one holds the underlying belief that repeated testing was indulging the whims of people.

The irony is that within days of the press briefing, two White House staffers tested positively and went into quarantine. At least one was being testing everyday and one day she was positive.

I am in full support of every means being taken to protect the president whether from a shooter or virus. The president’s reluctance to use his powers to increase access to testing in all parts of the country raises the question of what priority he puts on protecting the people. Note I said increase not whimsical or repeated testing, a concept that is the end point of a well-developed plan to quickly identify and quash outbreaks.

It could be the president doesn’t understand that adequate Coronavirus testing has been delayed for weeks and we continue to chase the virus instead of heading it off. We have a long way to go to reach testing on a whim.

But then on his behalf, we must remember the president is busy trying to open the economy or some economies.

Fiddling while the virus burns

The president has made it clear that he doesn’t like some states in these United States of America. He’s less inclined to help certain states which he refers to as “blue” states. I think he means states in which he did not win either the popular or the electoral vote.

Our state is one in addition to having a governor who ran for president on a platform that emphasized climate change action and removing the president from office as priorities.

Sadly, the Republican controlled Senate, if its leader Mitch McConnell is to be believed, aren’t inclined to help “blue” states either. The Senate leader said he was not in favor of any bailout to “blue” states considering their generosity to their people and called for those states hardest hit by the pandemic to go bankrupt. He also expressed grave concern over adding to the federal deficit.

I admire the gutsiness of the Senate leader who represents a state that receives more money from federal taxpayers than it pays into the treasury. He knows most “blue” states pay more in than they take from the treasury. As for McConnell’s deep concern over the rising federal deficit, it didn’t stop him from shepherding an income tax cut that raised the federal deficit to record levels.

The president and the Republicans are also maneuvering for a payroll tax cut that could adversely affect the funding of programs like Social Security and Medicare as an economic remedy to the pandemic. That would be programs for the old and vulnerable more likely to die from COVID-19.

Notably, the pandemic has done nothing to diminish the president’s efforts, efforts supported by Republicans, to dismantle the Affordable Care Act by chipping away at the Act’s fundamentals such as mandated insurance and reducing funding for insurer subsidies and information programs such as Healthcare.gov.

I find it alarming that the president and Republicans may be setting the conditions under which “blue” states, Social Security and Medicare will be starved into bankruptcy and the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) eliminated without a viable alternative.

Pandemic politics

I’ve had feedback from one or two who read my column who thought I brought politics into the very serious conversation about the pandemic. Shame, shame. Most of the criticism expressed has been around challenges I’ve made to the president’s failure to listen to experts, focus and lead.

Just for the record, I, always consider opinions, pro or con, about my columns. Please, let me know what you think.

I can understand why someone feels the president needs to be protected from challenges to his decisions. He is an extremely sensitive individual who is easily offended. Just the other day, the president got mad over a reporter’s question and stalked off the stage.

Seems to be hard for everyone to avoid the politics of pandemics and recovery in this important election year, although some do it better than others.

Meanwhile and thankfully, science and public health experts are exploring, assessing and learning everyday ways in which we will conquer this virus. That, the health care capacity to care for those who become ill with the virus and time will get us through to the end of the virus.

I think we’re all in it to get us and our important others out of the pandemic alive and living fully in our communities again. Everyone is seeking the balance of precaution and risk as we move into living outside with the virus.

No one should be counting on a marketing campaign or seeking a rebellion against the steady use of cautions and precautions in opening our communities.

To do so is not only dangerous, it’s nonsensical.

Bertha Cooper, featured columnist in the Sequim Gazette, spent her career years in health care administration, program development and consultation. Cooper’s book “Women, We’re Only Old Once” is due out this summer. Cooper and her husband have lived in Sequim over 20 years. Reach her at columnists@sequimgazette.com.

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