President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)
President Donald Trump speaks during a campaign rally at the BOK Center, Saturday, June 20, 2020, in Tulsa, Okla. (AP Photo/Evan Vucci)

While Michigan grapples with a new wave of COVID-19, the White House is touting ‘ending’ the pandemic as one of President Trump’s latest accomplishments.

MARYSVILLE, Mich.—The White House declared the battle with coronavirus to be over—specifically “defeated” by President Donald Trump. The next day, 3,675 Michiganders were told they were infected and 41 died of the disease.

In St. Clair County, children with serious conditions that impact their ability to learn in normal school environments are Woodland Warriors—that is, they attend classes at the Woodland Developmental Center on Range Road in Marysville. 

Many of these students face severe, chronic health conditions that compromise their immune system, and most have social or developmental conditions that make pandemic safety protocols a challenge for Woodland staff.

In the last two weeks of October, this school of especially vulnerable children reported four confirmed coronavirus cases to the St. Clair County Health Department, most recently on Wednesday. 

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St. Clair County is largely rural, and rural counties are increasingly the center of major Michigan outbreaks of the virus. They also have unique challenges in fighting the pandemic. 

Michigan has seen a dizzyingly high spike in coronavirus cases in the past several weeks, shattering records for new daily infections twice—once earlier in the month and again Wednesday. The virus is now spreading faster than it did even at the height of April. And while daily death tolls have remained relatively low, they have shown a steady climb as well.

This is why the high-risk students of Woodland stand as a chilling reminder that the pandemic is still very much a part of the daily lives of Michiganders, and the most vulnerable loved ones of Michigan families still have to be kept safe. This is, apparently, a reminder the White House needs.

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Daily coronavirus statistics. Infographic by Katelyn Kivel.

Trump Touts Defeating the Coronavirus

The state reports 3,675 Michiganders receiving positive diagnoses Thursday and 41 dying of the virus. That’s after a press release sent by White House science officials boasted to reporters Trump’s accomplishments, including ending the pandemic.

“Highlights include: ENDING THE COVID-19 PANDEMIC,” the news release sent to reporters read. “From the outset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Administration has taken decisive actions to engage scientists and health professionals in academia, industry, and government to understand, treat, and defeat the disease.”

White House communications director Alyssa Farah clarified the remarks Wednesday, claiming that the release only meant to tout the work Trump has done to fight the pandemic and again repeated the claim that America is rounding the corner on the disease. 

It isn’t. In fact, the disease is getting far, far worse than it has been since the very beginning.

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In their daily updates, the monitoring group Covid Act Now has placed the vast majority of the country in its highest threat category, showing active major coronavirus outbreaks across the entire center of the nation. Almost every state not in this category is in the next-highest of four, being on the brink of a major outbreak.

In it’s Thursday update, Covid Act Now elevated Michigan to the active outbreak category, it’s highest alert level.

Only four states and the Marianas Islands are in the elevated risk category, and none have the category for effectively managing the pandemic. 

Covid Act Now bases its data on how many new infections are generated from every single active infection, so rather than showing the current state of the virus their data shows the trend lines and where the virus is currently going. Their data shows a corner is indeed being rounded, and it’s the one that leads back to the kind of numbers we saw in March and April.

And there’s reason to suspect the pandemic will only get worse as cultural shifts continue to transition Americans away from more rigorous pandemic precautions.

The Mission is Far From Accomplished

Mark Meadows, Trump’s Chief of Staff, has confessed that the virus has gotten entirely beyond the administration’s control as staff for Vice President Mike Pence have begun testing positive as well.

During the final Presidential debate, after saying America was rounding the corner in the same language the White House used Wednesday, Trump said Americans were learning to live with the disease. 

“People are learning to die with it,” countered his opponent, Democrat Joe Biden.

That day, more than 40 Michiganders died with it.

On Oct. 29, 41 Michiganders died with it.

And it was also highlighted by that debate that things didn’t have to go the way they did. Trump knew the dangers of the coronavirus far earlier that Gov. Gretchen Whitmer did, but when she went immediately into action, Trump’s instinct was to try to downplay the virus to, he says, prevent panic. 

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In his return to political commentary Oct. 7, former MSNBC anchor and sports reporter Kieth Olbermann cited the statistic that by the end of 2020, 86,000 more Americans would die from the coronavirus.

“For now at least, because of him, we—human beings—we are no longer the dominant life form on this planet. Earth is now ruled by a virus,” Olbermann said. “Ask not for whom the bell tolls, it tolls for the victims of Donald Trump.”

Olbermann did not mince words as to Trump’s culpability and why it prompted him to leave the world of sports reporting to return to the political fray. 

“We all know this. We all fear this. We all refuse to say this out loud,” he said in the inaugural episode of his new vidcast Worst Person in the World. “Negligently or intentionally, Donald John Trump is a mass murderer.”

For the families of 3,675 Michiganders and families of every single person they met, including the parents of Woodland Warriors, no one has ended the pandemic. They’re keenly aware of that.