As I’ve covered in my past posts on COVID-19, the main thing governing cumulative mortality at the current time is lack of ventilator (and to a lesser extent, bed) capacity IF you get admitted to the hospital. We don’t have a vaccine, we have no (as of today) effective treatments, though news reports are now coming in of anti-viral medications that might work. So ventilator capacity, and not having hospitals overwhelmed, is how we have to manage this pandemic.
America does have a tool to rapidly gear up production of equipment in the case of a national emergency — it’s called the Defense Production Act. It was passed during the Korean War, and gives the President a broad array of powers to require manufacturers to pivot to supplying critical materiel in the interest of national security. It does what you’d think it does — makes it so people can’t hoard critical materials, and allows the government to direct companies to make stuff.
Yet as of this date and time, while Trump has talked about this, he hasn’t invoked it. This is mystifying a lot of people on social media (Twitter and Facebook) — why wouldn’t he do that?
As a narcissistic psychopath/collapsed egocentric, Trump lives in his own fuzzy bubble, where his belief system defines reality. To the extent that reality interferes in his belief system, what I call validity grounding, which is the thing that inevitably gets all Authoritarians, Trump operates inside his own mind — because his pathologies don’t allow distinct boundaries between his own mind and the outside world. It’s all about him, after all. Others only exist in a magical framework.
Trump, instead, has asked various companies to pivot and step up with supplies – and insists that they are. As of this date and time, I have heard that various companies are going to start making ventilator parts, and some people have started 3D printing parts. In Italy, Ferrari and Fiat have said they will start making parts. But making ventilators, or even gowns is not simple on such a short timescale. And a lack of directed efforts wastes time.
But nothing matters to Trump, until some critical mass of an ever-shrinking pool of influencers manage to ground him. And if he did implement the act proactively, it would be a damning condemnation to his inner ethos. He simply can’t — it’s a law, after all, and Trump has been insisting that laws are the problem. It’s only when his own survival is threaten that he will borrow from that higher v-Meme/value set to accomplish his ends.
The problem with all of this is that Trump’s mind exists largely in a time-invariant world. Nothing changes in the external world until his mind changes. And that is always a jump, followed by an erasure of history of the other mindset.
But this challenge is inherently dependent on varying timescales. Notions like Flattening the Curve require the population to, at least a little, comprehend temporal variation. Yes, there is a part of the population that requires do/do not mandates — but others can start the process of comprehension of the mechanism for these edicts.
The upshot? Trump will change his mind — when his own survival is threatened. Days will be lost in the process, and it will affect the outcomes in hospitals if the pandemic doesn’t slow down. But don’t hold your breath. Wait for an event.