National Security Petri Dish

It’s easy to lose sight of just how poorly our government has handled the COVID-19 pandemic.

Tucked away in this piece by Bloomberg’s Jennifer Jacobs about Donald Trump’s National Security Advisor Robert O’Brien, is some perspective which offers biting criticism:

O’Brien’s trip to Asia came at a delicate moment in the coronavirus pandemic. The U.S. outbreak is again surging, with the country recording more than 140,000 new cases a day the week of his departure.

Vietnam, by comparison, has reported just over 1,300 cases since the pandemic began. Some Trump advisers remarked that there may have been more cases just in the president’s orbit — including the president himself, and most recently, his oldest son, Donald Trump Jr.

Vietnam’s total cases are just 1 percent of the United States’ daily cases.

And so the Americans were treated like “human Petri dishes” with precautions such as meals left outside hotel room doors, tests performed by officials in head-to-toe protective gear, restricting the guests to a single hotel floor and not allowing the Air Force flight crew to stay in Vietnam while the delegation conducted its business.

All of these seem like wise precautions, since at least three members of the flight crew developed symptoms and tested positive while on the trip.