Tag: Coronavirus

Government loses credibility as coronavirus goalposts keep moving

I’ve repeated this often over the last few months. We have lost sight of the goal. I think it’s reasonable for everyone to take a step back and say how did we end up here? How did we go from we need to flatten the curve for the month of April, to “we are going to shut your business down in September and October if you decide to stay open?”

In California, the goalposts continue to move. At the beginning, the goal was to make sure we had enough hospital beds, make sure we had enough PPE equipment, make sure we weren’t having to choose between who could live and who couldn’t. Thankfully, because of the people of San Diego and the great work from our local public health officials, we never had any of those problems.

Now though, the goal has changed. In California, we have a flawed color-coded system and that doesn’t even have a green tier with full openings. Businesses are going to limited in capacity for an indefinite period.

We’ve been told that life won’t get back to normal until there’s a vaccine. So, if the goal truly is to keep everyone locked down until there is a vaccine, we have to start being honest. An Axios/Ipsos poll was done last week that said only 13 percent of Americans would be willing to try the vaccine when it comes out.

Trust is decreasing, and now more and more people are becoming suspicious of what is coming out from the government. Almost all business owners set goals, whether it’s financial or other factors. They set goals as a way to look towards the future.

I look to Governor Newsom and Sacramento and I wonder, what is the goal? Is it hospital capacity? Is it a vaccine and extinction of the virus?

Yes, we should be working on a vaccine, but we should not base our economic future solely on it. We need to learn to live with this virus. If a vaccine is the goal, we need to win the trust back of the public. We need to let them get back to a life as normal as possible. We need to give them the facts.

The facts are, if you are under the age of 50 you have a 99.98% chance of surviving COVID-19. If you are below 70 you have a 99.5% chance. In San Diego County, 6% of our hospital beds are COVID-19 patients, and we have thousands of open hospital beds available in case of an increase. Those are the facts.

We need to quit playing with the emotions of business owners and with flawed color-coded systems. We need to start being honest when it comes to the goals for dealing with COVID-19, because we are quickly losing the trust of the people.

Jim Desmond is a San Diego County supervisor.

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Coronavirus pandemic and election-year politics collide, eroding trust in science

The positive development immediately became entangled in election-year politics, with President Trump repeatedly making false and exaggerated claims about the new therapeutics. He called them a cure, which they’re not. He said he was about to approve them — a premature promise given that the FDA’s career scientists are charged with reviewing the applications.

This has been the 2020 pattern: Politics has thoroughly contaminated the scientific process. The result has been an epidemic of distrust, which further undermines the nation’s already chaotic and ineffective response to the coronavirus.

The White House has repeatedly meddled with decisions by career professionals at the FDA, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and other science-based agencies. Many of the nation’s leading scientists, including some of the top doctors in the administration, are deeply disturbed by the collision of politics and science and bemoan its effects on public health.

“I’ve never seen anything that closely resembles this. It’s like a pressure cooker,” Anthony S. Fauci, director of the National Institute of Allergy and Infectious Diseases, said in an interview.

Trust has been damaged by White House intrusions and the FDA’s own mistakes. Earlier this year, the agency granted emergency authorization to hydroxychloroquine, the malaria drug wrongly touted by Trump as a treatment for covid-19, then reversed course when it became clear the medication could cause dangerous complications. In August, FDA Commissioner Stephen Hahn drew sharp criticism for inaccurately describing the benefits of convalescent plasma, statements for which he later apologized.

Millions of Americans have embraced some version of a conspiracy theory that imagines the pandemic as a wildly exaggerated threat, or even an outright hoax, pushed by politically motivated scientists and the mainstream media to undermine the president. This is a form of science denial that leads many people to refuse to wear masks or engage in social distancing.

Scientists, meanwhile, worry that the politicization of the regulatory process could undermine the rollout of a vaccine even if it is approved by career professionals at the FDA. This is shaping up as a communications challenge for the government: Many people will want to know who, exactly, is greenlighting a vaccine.

“If the public health professionals, if Dr. Fauci, if the doctors tell us that we should take it, I’ll be the first in line to take it. Absolutely,” Sen. Kamala D. Harris (D-Calif.), the Democratic nominee for vice president, said in Wednesday’s debate with Vice President Pence. “But if Donald Trump tells us that we should take it, I’m not taking it.”

Moments later Pence said it is “unconscionable” for Harris “to undermine public confidence in a vaccine.” He added, “Stop playing politics with people’s lives.”

The scolding by Pence was remarkable given that Trump has repeatedly framed the vaccine effort in terms of the November election — including just hours before Wednesday’s vice-presidential debate, when he came close to accusing his own government’s scientists of trying to delay a vaccine.

“We’re going to have a great vaccine very, very shortly. I think we

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Florida Gov. DeSantis explains his handling of coronavirus: ‘We wanted society to function’

“You can’t kneecap your own society and think you’re going to successfully handle a pandemic,” Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis told Fox News’ “Life, Liberty & Levin” in an interview airing Sunday night.

The Republican DeSantis has been harshly criticized by the mainstream media for his handling of COVID-19. The governor declined to issue a statewide face mask mandate and lifted restrictions on bars and movie theaters in early June. Last month, DeSantis lifted all state capacity restrictions on bars and restaurants.

“What we did, Mark, was really three things,” DeSantis told host Mark Levin. “One is protect those who are the most vulnerable to the disease, which is our elderly population, and focus that protection there rather than trying to suppress society as a whole. Second thing is, we want to make sure that our hospital system had what they needed in terms of PPE, medication, testing, and we were able to do that.

“But then third, and I think this is really important, we wanted society to function. You can’t burn down the village in order to save it … So if you look now, Florida’s open for business. We have everything — like theme parks, all that have been open for months. And we have kids in school in person. Parents have the option to opt for virtual [learning] if they want, but they have the in-person [option], which is very, very important.”

WATCH ‘LIFE, LIBERTY & LEVIN’ SUNDAYS AT 8 PM ET ON FOX NEWS CHANNEL

As of Saturday, Florida (population: 21.5 million) had recorded 15,186 deaths from COVID-19, compared to 32,875 in New York state (population: 19.5 million).

“One of the things we did in the middle of March is we prohibited hospitals from discharging ill patients with coronavirus back into nursing homes because many of them were not equipped to handle that,” DeSantis explained. “And so what we did instead is we established a lot of COVID-only nursing units throughout the state. So if you had someone test positive in a nursing home, but they weren’t ill enough to need hospitalization, they had a safe place to be isolated in.”

DESANTIS: CLOSING SCHOOL IN SPRING MIGHT HAVE BEEN ONE OF NATION’S ‘BIGGEST PUBLIC HEALTH MISTAKES’

According to the federal Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services (CMS), 3,202 Florida nursing home residents had died of coronavirus as of Sept. 27. It’s unclear how many New York state nursing home residents have died of the illness because the state does not count residents who died in hospitals as part of the total. However, an Associated Press report from August suggested the number could go as high as 11,000.

“One of the problems that we had in terms of some of the restrictions with nursing homes was we stopped the visitation early on,” DeSantis recalled. “We didn’t want the disease to get in. I think most of the people wanted that done. But after months of this, you start to see loneliness and despair creep in … We

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Coronavirus Live Updates : NPR

Police officers man a roadside checkpoint in Madrid Friday as travel restrictions are imposed to cope with a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Bloomberg via Getty Images


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Police officers man a roadside checkpoint in Madrid Friday as travel restrictions are imposed to cope with a new wave of coronavirus infections.

Bloomberg via Getty Images

The Spanish government has declared a state of emergency in the Madrid region, making it possible to impose new anti-coronavirus lockdown restrictions, against the strong opposition of the local government.

Tensions have heightened between the center-left national government and the center-right regional government over how to fight the new wave of COVID-19 outbreaks.

Prime Minister Pedro Sánchez issued a 15-day lockdown order on Oct 2. Madrid President Isabel Díaz Ayuso took the issue to court and a judge in Madrid ruled in her favor. So Sánchez followed up with the emergency declaration.

The new restrictions limit freedom to travel outside Madrid and eight other nearby cities that are showing an increase of infection and transmission.

Police will enforce the restrictions, according to Noticias. Only people who have to travel for work, school or an emergency will be allowed to leave the nine cities and gatherings, even outside, will be limited to six.

“A total lockdown in Madrid isn’t possible,” Ayuso said at a press conference. She said the restrictions “create chaos,” and confuse people. She’s open to working with the national government, she said, but “we are asking for clear and simple rules.”

Ayuso said she opposes the blanket restrictions and prefers the tailored restrictions her government had imposed. Lockdown measures were made based on contagion levels in an area, she said, and they are working. At the same time she said the virus is still in the region “and it’s spreading.”

“Ayuso has decided not to do anything,” said Salvador Illa, Spain’s minister of health, at a news conference.

“We have to put in place measures to protect the health of Madrileños and to prevent the virus from spreading to other communities,” said Illa. He said 63 people have died in Madrid in the last week and 3,361 people are hospitalized in the city, with 498 in the ICU.

“We can cross our arms and stand by,” he said, “or we can stop the virus. We have to put restrictions in place to avoid transmission.”

Illa said that the Madrid region has seen 258,767 COVID-19 positive cases and 1,209 deaths since the pandemic began.

Spain has one of the highest numbers of COVID-19 infections and deaths around the world, lower only to Argentina, Colombia, Russia, Brazil, India and the U.S. The first COVID-19 case

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A radical nature-based agenda would help society overcome the psychological effects of coronavirus

A radical nature-based agenda would help society overcome the psychological effects of coronavirus
Credit: Wes Hicks/Unsplash, FAL

More of us than ever are stuck indoors, whether we are working at home, self-isolating, or socially distancing from other households. Long periods of isolation are already impacting many people’s mental health and will continue to do so.

On the other hand, people have reported discovering outdoor spaces on their doorstep as they are forced to stay local. Many say they have felt happier for doing so.

This reinforces the surge of research exploring the psychological benefits of connecting to nature that has developed in recent years. The idea is also growing that encouraging time in and engagement with nature has enormous potential in terms of mental health and wellbeing.

There are more and more programs explicitly aimed at helping people with experiences of distress by providing structured contact with nature. These are variously referred to as nature-based interventions, ecotherapy or green care. A growing evidence base suggests they are effective in alleviating distress and fostering recovery and resilience—for people but also, at least potentially, for nature too.

I think programs like this need to be rolled out en masse, with a few vital provisos.

Natural connections

My work often involves evaluating nature-based interventions from a psychological perspective. I have repeatedly witnessed the benefits of time spent in nature for those involved.

One organization I work with, called Grow, takes small groups of six to eight people—often strangers at first – into nature. Participants all suffer, or have suffered, from debilitating forms of psychological distress and are recruited on that basis. Like many such services, Grow operates with funding from sources like the National Lottery, larger charities and local council grants to run a number of programs a year.

Clients are not yet referred through or commissioned by the health service. Your doctor might be more likely today to suggest you get outside more in a move towards green prescriptions. But institutionalized health provision is still catching up with the evidence of the benefits of structured, supported and sustained contact with nature.

At Grow, trained professionals run a series of activities to help participants connect to nature on daily trips, once a week, for eight weeks. Activities include mindfulness, silent walks, foraging, sharing food, identifying flora and fauna, building fires, arts and crafts using natural objects, and reflective diaries, alongside more traditional active conservation activity like planting, clearing and coppicing.

Colleagues and I have collected surveys, diaries and interview data about the project over a number of years. Our findings reveal how transformative the experience has been for participants. (I was so impressed I later became a trustee of the charitable organization involved.) We found plenty of evidence of the psychological benefits of nature connection, but also, vitally, something else—a deepening of social connectedness.

For people struggling emotionally, socially or psychologically, just being in nature seems to rekindle their ability to relate to and engage with others. Feeling present and “held” by the natural environment can nurture new and positive forms of social contact, which

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Queen’s Daughter-in-Law Sophie Is Isolating After Being Exposed to Positive Coronavirus Case

Stuart C. Wilson/WPA Pool/Getty Sophie, Countess of Wessex

Sophie, Countess of Wessex, is taking precautions after coming in contact with someone who tested positive for coronavirus.

“Earlier this week The Countess of Wessex came into contact with someone who has subsequently tested positive for COVID-19,” Buckingham Palace said in a statement released Friday. “Her Royal Highness is not experiencing any symptoms, but is following all relevant government guidelines and is self-isolating at home.”

Queen Elizabeth’s daughter-in-law will likely stay at her Bagshot Park home, where she lives with husband Prince Edward and their two children, Lady Louise and James, Viscount Severn.

Sophie, 55, has had a busy week. After visiting a farm with Prince Edward last Thursday, she joined a member of Mencap’s Learning Disability Running Team for the first 1.5 miles of their Virtual London Marathon along the Great Walk at Windsor Castle (despite the dreary weather) on Sunday. Sophie also sported a green mask on Wednesday while visiting the National Space Centre to mark World Space Week. The palace did not specify where Sophie was exposed.

RELATED: Meghan Markle, Kate Middleton and More Royal Family Members Sporting Fashionable Face Masks

In March, Sophie’s brother-in-law Prince Charles tested positive for COVID-19, experiencing “mild symptoms.” In June, the future king revealed that he is still recovering from the loss of his sense of taste and smell.

“He [Prince Charles] did speak of his personal experience, so first-hand experience for him,” health care assistant Jeff Wall told the Daily Mail. “He also spoke about his loss of smell and taste and, sort of, still felt he’s still got it now.”

RELATED: Prince Edward, Sophie, Countess of Wessex and Kids Have Rare Family Outing to Help with Beach Clean

Benjamin Wheeler/PA Prince Philip, Queen Elizabeth, Princess Beatrice and Edoardo Mapelli Mozzi

The royal family — including Kate Middleton and Prince William — has largely returned to in-person engagements, taking precautions such as wearing masks and practicing social distancing.

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However, Queen Elizabeth has rarely been in public since March — with exceptions such as her scaled-down birthday celebrations in June and granddaughter Princess Beatrice’s small wedding in July. The 94-year-old monarch isolated with her 99-year-old husband, Prince Philip, at Windsor Castle before spending time at their Balmoral estate in Scotland over the summer. After visiting their Sandringham Estate, the Queen has returned to Windsor solo. It remains her plan to return to Buckingham Palace in London for “selected audiences and engagements.”

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Coronavirus vaccine ‘should be given to elderly first’, government advisor says

A group of people wearing face masks wait for a bus in Southend on Sea, Essex. (Getty)
A group of people wearing face masks wait for a bus in Southend on Sea, Essex. (Getty)

A coronavirus vaccine is likely to be given to elderly people first when it arrives, a government advisor has said.

Professor Adam Finn, from the University of Bristol, who is a member of the joint committee on vaccination and immunisation (JCVI), said age should determine those given priority rather than occupation.

He told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme that evidence collected by the JCVI, which advises the government on vaccines, showed carers and those who are vulnerable should also receive the jab ahead of the rest of the population.

“People should not imagine that there’s going to be a sudden and complete solution,” he said on Tuesday.

“These early vaccines I hope will work to some extent, but there are lots of different vaccines, and they will not all work equally effectively.

An elderly woman wearing a face mask shelters from the rain in London. (Getty)
An elderly woman wearing a face mask shelters from the rain in London. (Getty)

“So it’s going to be a long drawn-out process getting this right.”

Prof Finn said the “obvious people to target for the vaccines, at least at the outset, will be the people that who are at highest risk of getting sick and dying, and that’s really the elderly and alongside them those that care for them”.

But he warned it was difficult “to find out whether a vaccine blocks transmission until you implement it”, adding that “with most of the programmes in the past, this is something we found after we’ve started using the vaccine”.

Read more: ‘Rapid achievement’ allows antibody trial to move to next phase

“There are ways that you can try and get at that during the course of doing trials, but it is more difficult to do,” he added.

“And of course you would need to have a lot of vaccine to immunise enough people to start to have that effect anyway.

“So for both of those reasons, I think we’re likely to see the vaccine being directed towards people who are seen as being at the highest risk, at least to start with.”

Watch: How does the data blunder affect the battle against COVID-19?

It comes as Labour’s shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth asked Matt Hancock in the Commons if the whole population would get access to a COVID vaccine.

He said: “There has been an expectation that the whole of the population would be vaccinated, not least because he said at the Downing Street press conference that ‘I would hope given the scale of the crisis that we would have vaccine and everybody would have the vaccine’.”

Responding, the health secretary said: “Decisions on the distribution of any vaccine have not been taken.

“The Joint Committee on Vaccines and Immunisations are the body that advises the government on the appropriate clinical prioritisation of vaccines.

“They published an interim guide… and that sets out the order of priority as an interim but we await the data… from the clinical trials

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Irish government rejects return to full coronavirus lockdown

The Irish government has rejected a recommendation to return the country to a full lockdown in the first clash with health chiefs since the Covid outbreak began.



Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images


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Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images

The surprise recommendation by the National Public Health Emergency Team (NPHET) late on Sunday to impose the highest of five levels of restrictions possible with immediate effect had led to sharp criticism from some of the country’s most senior politicians, including the former taoiseach Leo Varadkar.

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While the rising spread of the virus is causing alarm and has led to partial lockdowns in several counties, most of the country is still on level 2 restrictions, involving fewer limits to social and economic activity.

Ministers faced opposition from politicians and business to what would have amounted to Europe’s first major second-wave national lockdown.

On Monday night, the cabinet opted to move the country to level 3 from midnight on Tuesday. This involves a ban on visits to houses by more than one other household and no more than six people, restrictions to restaurants and pubs, most of which remain open, no outdoor events, no matches or events unless elite sports and weddings restricted to 25 people.



a man and a woman sitting on a bench: A waiter serves customers at a pub in Dublin last month.


© Photograph: Paul Faith/AFP/Getty Images
A waiter serves customers at a pub in Dublin last month.

The taoiseach, Micheál Martin, said central to discussions about moving to level 5 was looking at the wider implications for the economy.

“What happens next is in our own hands,” Martin said in a televised address, saying some businesses may not be able to recover from a disproportionate reimposition of more severe restrictions. “It’s about protecting lives and livelihoods.”

Varadkar, who is now the deputy prime minister with responsibility for jobs, went further, telling RTÉ on Monday night that NPHET’s level 5 recommendation “hadn’t been thought through and there hadn’t been prior consultation”.

His was also critical of how NPHET has acted, saying “landing something on a Sunday night … without prior consultation” was not the right way to do things.

The decision will be debated in the Dáil on Tuesday and is expected to prompt clashes with the main opposition party, Sinn Féin, led by Mary Lou McDonald.

Varakdar said a move from level 2 to level 5 would have amounted to an “experiment” not tried elsewhere in Europe and that the body in charge of Ireland’s hospitals disagreed with the health chiefs’ capacity concerns.

The Irish Times said the decision had meant “the relationship between the government and NPHET has been fundamentally reset”.

As the fallout from the breakdown in the relationship with medical chiefs was beginning to hit, the government minister Thomas Byrne said on RTE radio on Tuesday morning that moving to level 5 would have created financial difficulties.

He said Varadkar has been “typically blunt” but he had “absolute confidence” in the chief medical officer, Tony Holohan.

The political editor of the Examiner said Varadkar had “not only thrown Dr Holohan under a bus but reversed

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Minister defends glitch that meant 16,000 missing coronavirus cases

Video: Test and Trace error: Minister unable to give number affected (PA Media)

Test and Trace error: Minister unable to give number affected

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Watch: Minister defends COVID-19 IT glitch



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A government minister has defended a technical glitch that caused almost 16,000 coronavirus cases to go unreported by saying: “We can’t change history.”

Public Health England (PHE) said 15,841 daily COVID-19 cases between 25 September and 2 October were left out of UK tallies.

It has caused a delay in tracking the contacts of people who tested positive.

But on Monday, work and pensions secretary Thérèse Coffey insisted: “Largely, test and trace is working very well.”

She told BBC Radio 4’s Today programme: “I’m conscious something has gone wrong – we can’t change history, we can only change the future.”



Therese Coffey wearing a blue shirt: Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey arrives in Downing Street in central London to attend a Cabinet meeting as Parliament returns after summer recess amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic on 01 September, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)


Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Therese Coffey arrives in Downing Street in central London to attend a Cabinet meeting as Parliament returns after summer recess amid the ongoing Coronavirus pandemic on 01 September, 2020 in London, England. (Photo by WIktor Szymanowicz/NurPhoto via Getty Images)

She added: “The glitch that’s happened, everybody who had the result received that result and that’s the most important thing of all.

“PHE identified the issue, have fixed the problem and are now putting that through the test and trace programme.”

However, shadow health secretary Jonathan Ashworth said of the glitch: “This is shambolic and people across the country will be understandably alarmed.”

He called on health secretary Matt Hancock to go to the House of Commons on Monday and explain “what on earth has happened, what impact it has had on our ability to contain this virus and what he plans to do to fix test and trace”.

The missing cases means daily coronavirus totals published on the government’s COVID-19 dashboard in the past week have been lower than the real numbers.

The unreported numbers were added to Saturday’s total of 12,872 cases and Sunday’s 22,961 figure.

The missing cases were passed on to tracers by 1am on Saturday, said PHE, meaning potential delays of more than a week in contacting thousands of people who were exposed to the virus and telling them to self-isolate.

The technical issue was caused by some data files reporting positive test results exceeding the maximum file size, it said.

For example, 4,786 cases which were due to be reported on 2 October were not included in the daily total on the dashboard that day, when the figure was given as 6,968.



a man wearing a blue shirt: An NHS Test and Trace logo on a member of staff's jacket at a Covid-19 testing centre in Southwark, south London, after a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases came into place in England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)


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An NHS Test and Trace logo on a member of staff’s jacket at a Covid-19 testing centre in Southwark, south London, after a range of new restrictions to combat the rise in coronavirus cases came into place in England. (Photo by Dominic Lipinski/PA Images via Getty Images)

A note on the government dashboard said: “The cases by publish date for 3 and 4 October include 15,841 additional cases with specimen dates between

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More Americans blame the U.S. government than foreign nations for the country’s coronavirus crisis

WASHINGTON (AP) — More Americans blame the U.S. government instead of foreign nations for the coronavirus crisis in the United States, a rebuke to the Trump administration’s contention that China or other countries are most at fault, a new poll shows.

The poll by The University of Chicago Harris School of Public Policy and The Associated Press-NORC Center for Public Affairs Research was conducted before President Donald Trump tested positive for the virus Friday and was hospitalized. Trump has downplayed the severity and impact of the pandemic in recent months.

Although many see plenty of blame to go around and there’s a wide bipartisan divide over who is responsible, 56% of Americans say the U.S. government has substantial responsibility for the situation. That compares with 47% who place that much blame on the governments of other countries and only 39% who say the same about the World Health Organization.

“It reflects a general lack of confidence in the way the government has handled the situation,” said Austin Wright of the Harris School for Public Policy.

More than 1 million people worldwide, including more than 200,000 Americans, have died of COVID-19 in the outbreak. Trump has squarely blamed the virus’ spread on China, where it originated, and an inadequate response from the WHO.

As he faces a rough reelection contest in November, Trump has steadily ramped up criticism of China for the virus and announced the U.S. would halt funding for and withdraw from the international health agency over alleged Chinese interference in its work. Critics, including public health experts, have said China bears some responsibility but have also harshly criticized Trump’s response.

The poll shows Democrats are especially likely to say the U.S. government is responsible for the situation, while many Republicans are likely to place the blame elsewhere. Among Democrats, 79% say the U.S. government has a great deal of responsibility, while 37% say that about other countries’ governments and 27% about the WHO. Among Republicans, 38% say the U.S. government is responsible, compared with 60% for the governments of other countries and 55% the WHO.

Self-described conservative Republican Ralph Martinez, a 67-year-old grocery store manager from the Fort Worth, Texas area, said he wasn’t sure that any government could have handled it better and dismissed criticism that Trump had downplayed the matter.

“It’s an open question, honestly,” he said. “I don’t care who’s in office, I think they’re going to do their best for everyone. But how much can they do?”

Martinez, who said he had to throw a customer out of his store for not wearing a mask recently, lauded Trump for not wanting to create panic in the early stages of the outbreak in the U.S. He also recalled unprecedented runs on items such as toilet paper and paper towels when people realized the virus was not a momentary phenomenon.

“You would not believe how crazy these people got,” he said. “I can’t imagine how bad it would have been if the government had come out

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