‘Body count things are somewhat gross’: White House can’t articulate metrics for coronavirus response
Nurses from National Nurses United protest for PPE in front of the White House with 88 pairs of shoes representing each nurse who has died from coronavirus. (Screen Capture)

On Thursday, Politico reported that officials at the White House are struggling to articulate even a way of measuring how their response to coronavirus could be judged a success.

"Presidential reelection campaigns are generally referendums on the incumbent," reported Ryan Lizza and Daniel Lippman. "A falling unemployment rate and rising stock market were once Trump’s measures of success. But after a manic 3½ years, the referendum on Trump may come down to the single issue of his handling of the coronavirus pandemic. Now, in a White House once obsessed with statistical boasts, those close to the president are loath to set any milestones defining a positive outcome."

"By far the most sensitive subject is the awful reality of the growing death count," continued the report. "'I’m not going to play that game,' said one White House official when asked if there is a number of dead Americans beyond what the public would tolerate. 'I think all these body count things are somewhat gross and the definitions are kind of fu--ed up and they’re not uniform across states and across countries.'"

Meanwhile, the report said, "On Capitol Hill, there’s more interest among Republicans in defeating the pandemic than trying to find clever political narratives to explain any Trump failures. Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) said he also sees fighting the pandemic as analogous to a war and has been thinking about what success would look like. He was even willing to offer a number of total deaths below which success might be measured. 'The closer you can have it to 120 [thousand deaths], I think you can say you limited the casualties in this war,' Graham said."

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