We have a clear choice in November....
We have a choice between knowledge and ignorance. The events of the last 48 hours mimic the events of the last 4 years. The President of the United States openly defies the scientific knowledge on many fronts, including COVID-19. The President routinely holds large events without social distancing and PPE (in some cases, people are ridiculed for wearing masks). In the two weeks prior to his COVID diagnosis, he was involved in daily events with attendance in excess of rational guidelines, including a 3000 person outdoor rally in Newport News, VA.
In terms of numbers, right now, in Newport News, there are 179,000 people, and 83 people were confirmed COVID positive in the prior 7 days to the rally. That means 1/2000 people are known infectious, and probably an equal number were infectious but either a- or pre-symptomatic. Looking at the numbers, with 3000 people in attendance, there is 75% chance that someone at the rally was infectious. That individual, if not wearing PPE, would likely infect people with 10 feet of him; it was a crowded event; assuming 4 square feet per person, that means about 80 people were exposed.
Going back to the likely super-spreader event in the Rose Garden: about 200 people attending, many (2/3rds?) not wearing masks. Estimating the risks here is a bit tricky, because everyone was tested prior to entering. There clearly is a period where one tests negative (or there is a false negative in the quick antigen test), yet one is infectious. That is probably about 1 day -- so, assuming 10/100K case rate, there is a 1 in 10,000 chance that any one individual is in that group; with 200 people, the chance of an infected person is about 2%. However, the White House hosts events like this (or bigger) regularly. Eventually, the results will not be desirable. After 50 of similar events, there would be about a 65% chance of exposure. So, maybe Trump was lucky that it took this long to get sick.
And this gets to the hubris of the situation.
I am certain that the President had people advising him on the risks; he chose to ignore them. Whether it was the notion that testing would protect him, hydroxychloroquine, or some other magic, the official stance of the White House was either the rules of probability do not apply to me (explaining how he lost money in a casino), the disease is a hoax, or it is not that bad. Well, now for flaunting the advice, we have at least 10 people ill, and 2 in the hospital.
Taking a step back from this, it is part of a pattern of behavior by this White House. Instead of taking advice from the experts, whether it is the scientists, generals, or career diplomats, he does what he thinks is best in the short term. Yes, the notion of reducing carbon emissions is not convenient, and will cost money in the short term, but that is the only way to stop the run-away climate change. And speaking of fossil fuel, you can't find oil without geology -- evolution. Geologists understand the depositional environments from long ago -- those that are source rocks; and then know what to look for reservoir rocks to allow the oil to accumulate, and cap rocks that prevent the oil from leaving the reservoir rocks. The principals used to find them require an older earth.
Historically, there have been cases where society has ignored scientific advances in favor of short term expediency or religious ideology. That lead to the dark ages in western civilization; the downfall of Rome. We are now in a global competitive environment. If we are competing with China -- a country that will put science first -- and we ignore science, who will be ahead in 10 or 50 years?
America in the 50's and 60's was far from ideal. It was not "Great" unless you were white. But, at least, science guiding policy. And (if Hidden Figures were accurate), we recognized the Genious in some minority populations (Katherine Johnson). We put a man on the moon by embracing science and knowledge, not by ignoring it.
If we want to live in a great nation, we once again need to embrace knowledge and science. In my lifetime, I have watched the GOP become an arm of the American Taliban in the sense of science and knowledge denial. It is unfortunate. In the 60's and even 70's, there were brilliant minds in the GOP. People who understood that policy needed to be driven by knowledge and not thoughts and prayers. Today, the GOP stands for faith based policies. I do not have a problem with faith, but that is something personal. Policies need to be driven by knowledge. We have demonstrated that our actions can har the planet, from the extinction of species, to the burning of the rainforests to the induced earthquakes in Oklahoma.
If we want America to be great, we must base policy on knowledge. We must encourage education, and we must reject the current failure of an administration. The 2020 election is not about America in 2020, but rather America in 2030 and beyond. I will be voting for our future, and casting my Ballot for Joe Biden.
(on a side note, the irony that the announcement of Amy Barrett's nominee was the source of infection of at least two GOP senators, and could potentially her conformation prior to election would be a lesson for all in the future).