• Monthly
  • $25
  • $50
  • $100
  • $other
  • use PayPal


Is it time for our Spring fundraiser already? If you enjoy what we offer, and have the means, please consider donating. The sooner we reach our modest goal, the faster we can get back to business as (un)usual. Please, stay safe and we’ll see you down the road.

The Covid-19 Testing Fiasco

Photograph Source: The White House from Washington, DC – Public Domain

From the start, testing for Covid-19 in the U.S. has been abysmal. Experts agree that without adequate testing, the disease cannot be stopped. Poor testing means no idea how many are infected or how to trace and quarantine their contacts or how to prevent hospitals from becoming overwhelmed. There has been speculation that the Trump administration’s puzzling reluctance to test derives from its wish to fudge the numbers of the sick and dying. Well, that reluctance most certainly made the U.S. the plague’s epicenter. We have more Covid-19 infections than any other country. And our dead are piling up fast.

Trump admitted he wasn’t keen on tests, because they “make us look bad.” So he has done the opposite; the results speak for themselves. Meanwhile, undeterred by the Covid-19 carnage, in early May, five Republican governors – of Wyoming, Nebraska, Arkansas, Iowa and Missouri – boasted in a Washington Post editorial how their states stayed open during the pandemic. There is a word for them: Know-Nothings.

The original rollout of tests by the CDC flopped. The tests were inaccurate, probably tainted. Why the CDC didn’t quickly switch to another test remains a mystery. One cannot rule out institutional arrogance and hubris. By April’s end, the U.S. had performed roughly four million tests. Dr. Anthony Fauci predicted that number would double in May and that hopefully anyone who needed a test could get one by early June. Adm. Brett Giroir, assistant secretary of Health and Human Services in charge of testing, agreed. But Fauci also said we need three million tests per week. A Harvard model argues 20 million tests per day are necessary to reopen the economy. The competence and expertise required to achieve that many tests are simply inconceivable for this administration.

Scattershot efforts continue. New York Governor Andrew Cuomo announced that pharmacies in his state would test for Covid-19, while nationally CVS and Walgreens say their stores will offer more tests. On April 29, Los Angeles Mayor Eric Garcetti reported that anyone in his city could get a test. This is hopeful news, but what about people who live in the L.A. suburbs? Can they get tested? Maybe, maybe not. That is a flaw in this local patchwork approach to testing. It’s an argument for strong national leadership. But Trump has not rolled out a comprehensive national testing plan and implemented it, despite his braggadocio about how great American testing is. On testing, he has been MIA.

South Korea, Germany, China beat this virus’ first wave by instituting robust testing early. In the U.S., unfortunately, that ship has sailed. Testing has been limited and late. And the U.S. government’s testing failures are a threat not just to its own citizens but to the world. “It doesn’t matter that my country is stabilizing and coming to grips with this,” said South Korean Foreign Minister Kang Kyong-wha some weeks ago. “The world must overcome this together.” The South Korean stellar success at beating this pestilence is due to its single-minded focus on testing and aggressive contact tracing. South Korea has one of the world’s lowest Covid-19 death rates. Indeed, it managed to hold elections April 15, in which 29 million Koreans voted. Two weeks later, none were infected and the country reported no new local cases for the first time since the outbreak started. As Senator Tim Kaine recently noted, the U.S. has “45 times the rate of South Korea,” of pandemic deaths.

Germany has also excelled at testing and has the low Covid-19 fatality rate to prove it. Though Germany’s infection rate roughly equals that of the UK, France, Spain or Italy, it has only had about one quarter the deaths. Already in early April, Germany processed approximately 116,655 swab tests per day. The German government’s speedy, competent response saved lives, while the slow, bumbling American approach killed people. In Germany, roughly 6000 people have died, a low number thanks to widespread testing. By contrast, over 81,000 Americans have been killed.

Despite inadequate testing, in May, Florida, Oklahoma, Texas, Georgia and other states started opening up. Dan Friedman of Mother Jones reported that despite promoting easing social distancing, the Trump administration was fully aware this would cause massive Covid-19 death. So the Trump administration knows very well its policies kill. Trump’s approach – first deny the pestilence exists, then delay responding, prevent the CDC from publishing certain statistics, fire officials who try to follow science and data, do nothing, ignore the corpses and hope Americans are too dumb to figure out what’s going on – is one of the biggest failures in American presidential history. It seems predicated on Trump’s mistaken notion that he can bully a virus. But the virus doesn’t care what he does. It will go on killing. His insults won’t stop it. His bragging won’t slow it. His lies won’t banish it. His errors are catastrophic. Friedman called them “large scale negligent homicide.”

More articles by:

Eve Ottenberg is a novelist and journalist. Her latest book is Further Adventures of Feckless Frank. She can be reached at her website.

June 01, 2020
Joshua Frank
It’s a Class War Now Too
Richard D. Wolff
Why the Neoliberal Agenda is a Failure at Fighting Coronavirus
Henry Giroux
Racial Domestic Terrorism and the Legacy of State Violence
Ron Jacobs
The Second Longest War in the United States
Kanishka Chowdhury
The Return of the “Outside Agitator”
Lee Hall
“You Loot; We Shoot”
Dave Lindorff
Eruptions of Rage
Jake Johnston
An Impending Crisis: COVID-19 in Haiti, Ongoing Instability, and the Dangers of Continued U.S. Deportations
Nick Pemberton
What is Capitalism?
Linda G. Ford
“Do Not Resuscitate”: My Experience with Hospice, Inc.
Medea Benjamin - Nicolas J. S. Davies
Who Are the Secret Puppet-Masters Behind Trump’s War on Iran?
Manuel García, Jr.
A Simple Model for Global Warming
Howard Lisnoff
Is the Pandemic Creating a Resurgence of Unionism? 
Frances Madeson
Federal Prisons Should Not be Death Chambers
Hayley Brown – Dean Baker
The Impact of Upward Redistribution on Social Security Solvency
Raúl Carrillo
We Need a Public Option for Banking
Kathy Kelly
Our Disaster: Why the United States Bears Responsibility for Yemen’s Humanitarian Crisis
Sonali Kolhatkar
An Open Letter to Joe Biden on Race
Scott Owen
On Sheep, Shepherds, Wolves and Other Political Creatures
John Kendall Hawkins
All Night Jazz All The Time
Weekend Edition
May 29, 2020
Friday - Sunday
Tim Wise
Protest, Uprisings, and Race War
Nick Pemberton
White Supremacy is the Virus; Police are the Vector
T.J. Coles
What’s NATO Up to These Days? Provoking Russia, Draining Healthcare Budgets and Protecting Its Own from COVID
Benjamin Dangl
Bibles at the Barricades: How the Right Seized Power in Bolivia
Kevin Alexander Gray - Jeffrey St. Clair - JoAnn Wypijewski
There is No Peace: an Incitement to Justice
Jeffrey St. Clair
A Few Good Sadists
Jeff Mackler
The Plague of Racist Cop Murders: Ahmaud Arbery, George Floyd and the COVID-19 Pandemic
Joshua Frank
In Search of a Lost Socialism
Charles Pierson
Who are the “Wrong Hands” in Yemen?
David Schultz
Trump isn’t the Pope and This Ain’t the Middle Ages
Andrew Levine
Trump Is Unbeatable in the Race to the Bottom and So Is the GOP
Ramzy Baroud
Political Ambiguity or a Doomsday Weapon: Why Abbas Abandoned Oslo
Pam Martens - Russ Martens
A Growing Wave of Bankruptcies Threatens U.S. Recovery
Joseph Natoli
Conditions Close at Hand
N.D. Jayaprakash
No Lessons Learned From Bhopal: the Toxic Chemical Leak at LG Polymers India 
Ron Jacobs
The Odyssey of Elias Demetracopoulos
J.P. Linstroth
Arundhati Roy on Indian Migrant-Worker Oppression and India’s Fateful COVID Crisis
Melvin Goodman
Goodness Gracious, David Ignatius!!
Roger Harris
Blaming the COVID-19 Pandemic on Too Many Humans:  a Critique of Overpopulation Ideology
Sonali Kolhatkar
For America’s Wealthiest, the Pandemic is a Time to Profit
Prabir Purkayastha
U.S. Declares a Vaccine War on the World
David Rosen
Coronavirus and the Telecom Crisis
Paul Buhle
Why Does W.E.B. Du Bois Matter Today?
Mike Bader
The Only Way to Save Grizzlies: Connect Their Habitats
Dave Lindorff
Pandemic Crisis and Recession Can Spark a Fight for Real Change in the US