The Trump administration continues to fail to take the Coronavirus pandemic as seriously as it demands. During a Fox appearance this Thursday morning, White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany dubiously compared teachers to meat packers when asked for the Trump administration’s response to a United Federations of Teachers official who said that every student should get a Coronavirus test before entering school in order to help protect the campus community. McEnany was trying to depict teachers as “essential workers” like meat packers, seemingly glossing right over the fact that these folks are real people whose lives are at stake, and their “essential” work isn’t the only thing at play here!
Also — at this point, it’s not immediately clear how many meat packers have died due to the Coronavirus, but in April and May of 2020, 86 meat/ poultry packing plant workers died. In the time since, that number seems likely to have grown significantly, especially in light of the most recent resurgence of cases and deaths around the country. These are serious consequences for the failure to protect the vulnerable people who McEnany sounds ready and willing to push to the front lines.
‘First, let me say, our testing is being surged to vulnerable communities, our nursing homes — that has to be the priority, but in terms of the teachers union and what they’re saying, look: we believe teachers are essential workers. The media never stopped working during this pandemic. Our meat packers didn’t stop working didn’t this pandemic. Our law enforcement didn’t stop working during this pandemic. Nor should our teachers, because America’s children must come first. The president’s been clear: you’re in a vulnerable community and you’re a teacher, by all means, don’t go back, but those who can go back should, and we’ve gotta protect our children and that means getting them back to school.’
Watch her staggeringly tone-deaf comments below:
Asked about teachers who are worried about coronavirus outbreaks at their schools, Kayleigh McEnany compared them to meat packers.
"We believe teachers are essential workers … our meat packers didn't stop working didn't this pandemic … nor should our teachers." pic.twitter.com/DJfMYBRARz
— Aaron Rupar (@atrupar) August 20, 2020
She talks like this issue is one of political will. It’s not! There’s not some teachers union conspiracy to, what, be lazy? Is that what McEnany is suggesting? The issue is one of people dying preventable deaths or not.
According to a July report from the Kaiser Family Foundation, “one in four teachers (24%, or about 1.47 million people), have a condition that puts them at higher risk of serious illness from coronavirus.” Indeed, it’s worth noting — death is far from the only potential negative outcome due to Coronavirus infection. Many other people have suffered serious illnesses. During that early 2020 two-month period in which there were 86 meat/ poultry packer Coronavirus deaths, there were 16,233 reported cases among the same population. A significant number of those people may still be suffering significant health effects.
Concern over the Coronavirus is not and has never been some kind of systematic plot to make Trump look bad. It wasn’t when Trump claimed the concern was a “hoax” at an infamous February rally appearance, and it’s still not. While Trump and his political allies like McEnany have been treating the virus like some kind of political public relations spectacle, Americans have been dying in the startling void of leadership left by the Trump team’s debacles.