No masking fact Trump's in troubleEditorial | Mary Ma 26 Jun 2020
If the US presidential election were held today, former vice president Joe Biden would readily defeat Donald Trump.
That was unimaginable early this year. But Trump's faulty handling of the pandemic eroded his lead and the Black Lives Matter movement was the turning point.
A resurgence of virus cases in the country could well be the last straw, setting back optimism recently fueled by an unexpected rebound in employment.
And Trump can do very little about it.
Although Germany has reimposed lockdowns in certain districts in the wake of new local outbreaks, I can't imagine the US following suit when the president has set an example contradicting medical advice and refused to wear a mask in public and at a recent election rally.
However, the democratic system there has allowed states to take steps to protect themselves in light of a failure at the federal level.
The European Union was about to ban Americans from entering. Yet, three US states that have been "through hell and back" - namely New York, New Jersey and Connecticut - are taking the lead to require fellow Americans traveling from badly infected states to go through 14-day quarantine.
The blacklisted states include Alabama, Arkansas, Arizona, Florida, North Carolina, South Carolina, Texas and Utah.
It's more than an irony since these states - from Alabama to Utah - voted for Trump four years ago.
With the pandemic epicenter shifting towards the south and west, the disease could create hell in the GOP states and erode Trump's power base.
That's bad news for Trump, leaving him less than five months to bridge the gap before the November 3 vote - unless Biden commits silly mistakes during the period.
A New York Times/Siena College poll showed Biden's lead has widened to 14 points.
In Wisconsin, which flipped to the Republicans in 2016, a separate poll revealed Biden had the support of 49 percent of voters there, compared to Trump's 41 percent.
In Ohio, which also swung to the Republicans, a local poll showed the two candidates were tied - although Trump defeated Hillary Clinton by eight percentage points in 2016.
In the absence of a miracle, a spike in pandemic deaths in southern and western states is bound to hurt sentiment and undermine Trump's support there.
Wall Street appears to be factoring in the increasing likelihood of having a Democratic president after November who is ready to increase corporate taxes and regulate the financial market. In addition to fears of a new pandemic spike, falls in Wall Street stocks were also reactions to the prospect of a Biden victory in November.
The world has responded to the pandemic in various ways.
At one extreme has been the vertical approach of draconian lockdowns in China. At the opposite extreme was the laissez-faire practice of herd immunity pursued by Sweden.
The US has adopted a course somewhere in between.
It has been predicted that, by October, US deaths will have increased to 180,000 - but the tally could be controlled at 146,000 if 95 percent of Americans wear masks.
So, will Trump set an example by putting on a mask?
I very much doubt it.