This morning I read about about 25% of a long New Yorker piece about the coronavirus tragedy, written by Lawrence Wright and titled “The Plague Year.” It basically explains how Donald Trump, his executive branch goons and his moronic bumblefuck followers brought hell to this country by prolonging the pandemic and turning it into a much more deadly scourge than it needed to be.

The same story was covered by an excellent PBS Frontline doc called “The Virus: What Went Wrong?Alex Gibney‘s Totally Under Control (which I reviewed on 10.12.20) also passed along the tale.

New Yorker excerpt: “Trump is a notorious germophobe. He hates shaking hands and recoils when anyone near him sneezes. He once chastised Mick Mulvaney, on camera in the Oval Office, “If you’re going to cough, please leave the room.” Years before covid, Trump told Howard Stern that he had a hand-washing obsession, which ‘could be a psychological problem.’ It’s one of the only frailties he acknowledges. He seems fascinated by his horror of contamination.

“How could such a man refuse to wear a mask in a pandemic? It wasn’t just Trump, of course; the people around him followed his example. [Vice-president Mike] Pence visited the Mayo Clinic without a mask, violating hospital policy. Many Republican legislators shunned masks even after members of their caucus became infected. It wasn’t just Republicans, but Democrats were twice as likely to say that masks should always be worn. It wasn’t just men, but women were more in favor of masks. It wasn’t just white people, but they were much more averse to mask wearing than Blacks and Latinos were.

“If you name each of the groups least likely to wear a mask, the result roughly correlates with the average Trump voter.

“Some anti-maskers called the coronavirus a hoax; others believed that it wasn’t all that dangerous. But the image of the maskless President spoke to people, especially his base. He appeared defiant, masculine, invulnerable. He knew that the virus was dangerous—“more deadly than even your strenuous flus,” as he told Bob Woodward, in a February interview that surfaced months later. Yet he dared the virus to touch him, like Lear raging against the storm.

“Tens of millions of Americans emulated the President’s bravado, and the unchecked virus prolonged unemployment, upended efforts to reopen the economy, and caused many more fatalities. “I’m not buying a fucking mask,” Richard Rose, a thirty-seven-year-old Army veteran from Ohio, posted on Facebook. “I’ve made it this far by not buying into that damn hype.” He tested positive on July 1st and died three days later. There are many similar stories.

Excerpt from HE review of Gibney doc: “[This is] a smart, swiftly paced, well-organized exploration of how Donald Trump singhandedly managed to make the Covid-19 pandemic worse…make that much worse than it needed to be.

“If you’ve been closely following this forehead-slapping bureaucratic farce since last February (as I have) there’s nothing exactly ‘new’ in this 123-minute doc. But it does offer a satisfying condensation or re-review, if you will. With a lot of frank and informative talking-head commentary.

“Every stupid, blind, oblivious, wrongheaded move that Trump and his executive branch flunkies made over the last eight months or so is covered. Trump’s endless lies and denials and fantasy evasions, the ‘lost’ five-week period (late January ’20 to early March ’20) when the virus might’ve been carefully managed and at least minimized to some extent but wasn’t, ignoring the passed-along Obama playbook on dealing with a pandemic, the failure to mass-produce masks in the early stages, the lack of a coordinated federal testing program, etc.”