HHS Secretary Alex Azar Is Very Bad At This
It's another week in our Mad-Max-starter-kit world, and it's time to check-in on this week's Sunday show stupidity -- mainly on CNN's "State Of The Union" with Jake Tapper and Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Alex Azar.
Jake Tapper to Alex Azar: Why was the US hit harder by coronavirus? www.youtube.com
Tapper began by asking Azar about people returning to crowded places, and refusing to social distance or wear masks for "freedom," as fears of a surge of new cases rise. Azar answered this in a way that suggests he's setting the stage to blame the sick for their lot in regards to COVID-19:
AZAR: I think, in any individual instance, you're going to see people doing things that are irresponsible. That's part of the freedom that we have here in America. We can give guidance, as the surgeon general did. Part of this is going to be, if you're in crowded areas, and if you're in an area that has ongoing spread of community -- community spread of disease, there are steps you should take.
See, the problem with that answer is the same as the problem with anti-vaxxers: They are making personal health decisions that affect the community. If these conservative fuckheads wanted to spread COVID only between themselves to enjoy Golden Corral buffets again, no one would care. But the problem is, they have to interact with the rest of society and potentially spread this to people who have been responsible citizens. The "personal responsibility" crowd never wants to take responsibility for the consequences of their choices, but this time it could literally be the death of us all.
Azar then tried to tout the 10 million tests America has conducted as a great sign of progress, but Tapper quickly pointed out that 10 million in three and a half months in a country of 328 million is quite minuscule. Azar stuck to his talking points:
TAPPER: Secretary Azar, you were saying that our testing is now the model of the world, but I have to ask. The United States has less than 5 percent of the world's population. But the United States has also almost 30 percent of the world's officially reported coronavirus deaths. You said back in January that -- quote -- "The risk is low. Our job is to work to keep it that way." So, did the U.S. government fail? Why is this virus hitting our country so much harder than it's hitting other countries?
AZAR: So, first, just in terms of the actual case counts, we are testing more than other countries or than other major countries, and so we're seeing a tremendous number of cases.
Yet the most bewildering exchange happened when Azar implied that the reason Covid-19 has spread so much here was not the incompetence of Trump or conservative governors who didn't take it seriously, but actually on Americans themselves:
AZAR: Oh, Jake, you can't celebrate a single death. Every death is a tragedy. But the results could have been vastly, vastly worse. It's also important to remember, Jake, as we -- as we face ...
TAPPER: But it's worse for us than it is for anyone else.
AZAR: No, that's actually not factually correct. When you look at mortality rates, that's simply not correct as a percent of diagnosed cases, Jake, that every death is tragic, but we have ...
TAPPER: I'm just looking at the number of dead bodies.
AZAR: Every -- every -- every -- every death is tragic, but we have maintained our health care system -- our health care burden within the capacity of our system to actually deal with it. Unfortunately, the American population is a very diverse and -- and it is a -- it is a population with significant unhealthy comorbidities that do make many individuals in our communities, in particular African-American, minority communities, particularly at risk here because of significant underlying disease health disparities and disease comorbidities. And that is an unfortunate legacy of -- in our health care system that we certainly do need to address.
Holy shit, that is some Grade-A victim blaming! It was so bad, in fact, that Tapper tried to help Azar correct his statement but he chose to double down instead:
TAPPER: I want to give you an opportunity to clear it up, because it sounded like you were saying that the reason that there are so many dead Americans is because we're unhealthier than the rest of the world. And I know that's not what you meant.
AZAR: Oh, no, I think that there's -- there -- we have significant -- we have a significantly disproportionate burden of comorbidities in the United States, obesity, hypertension, diabetes. These are demonstrated facts that make -- that do make us at risk for any type of disease burden.
Tapper tried again, and Azar finally realized what he said and turned on the Mike-Pence-style faux sincerity:
TAPPER: Sure, of course, but that doesn't mean it's the fault of the American people that ...
AZAR: Oh, my goodness. Oh, my goodness. Jake ...
TAPPER: ... our government failed to take adequate steps in February.
AZAR: Oh, no, Jake, please, please don't -- please don't distort -- no, this is not about fault.
But if you think Azar just about blaming Americans for catching COVID was incompetent, his statement on how they will roll out a potential vaccine on CBS's "Face The Nation" will really throw you for a loop:
Azar says Trump administration aiming for 300 million vaccine doses by year's end www.youtube.com
AZAR: [W]hat we're doing is wringing the inefficiency out of the development process to make the development side faster to get to safe and effective vaccines. And at the same time, we're gonna scale up commercial-sized manufacturing and produce hundreds of millions of doses at risk. They may not pan out. They might not prove to be safe and effective. But we'll have it so we could begin administration right away.
You are gonna make Americans be the guinea pigs for a vaccine before it's safe, because Trump wants to say he rolled out a cure? This is Trump's response to coronavirus: rushed, irresponsible and detached entirely from all human costs.
Maybe in this instance, we should wait until we have a safe vaccine, considering Trump's incompetence. I'm not eager to be part of Trump's "Tuskegee Experiment" remake for his hollow "win."
In conclusion, Alex Azar is bad.
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Pop Culture observer & Comics fan. Amateur Movie Reviewer. Political Freelance Writer @wonkette. Marine, Husband & Dad. Opinions are mine only.