SOUTH PORTLAND, ME – NOVEMBER 23: On the Job: Santa Claus at the Maine Mall. (Photo by Ben McCanna/Portland Portland Press Herald via Getty Images)
Over 220,000 Americans have died from COVID-19. Another 30 million have lost their jobs, and as many as 40 million face the threat of eviction by the end of the year. But as the country enters what the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention believes will be “one of the most difficult times we’ve experienced in American public health,” the Trump administration has been focused on inoculating… Santa Claus.
In an effort to promote a COVID-19 vaccine that, to date, does not exist, the Trump administration directed $250 million taxpayer dollars to a coronavirus vaccine advertising campaign centered around jolly old Saint Nicholas, Mrs. Clause, and, of course, the big man’s hard-working (and probably under-paid) elves. Performers would promote the safety and benefits of this non-existent immunization in exchange for early-access to the vaccine, according to the Wall Street Journal. The scheme was reportedly conjured up by Heath and Human Services assistant secretary Michael Caputo.
But, just like efforts to curb the spread of COVID-19, the administration abandoned the would-be vaccine campaign before it even began. A spokesperson for the Department of Health and Human Services denies HHS Secretary Alex Azar had any idea it was in the works, as reported by Slate.
The president has actually campaigned on his promise to “protect Christmas” more than once. On Saturday during a campaign rally, President Trump told a crowd of his supporters: “Remember when I first started campaigning department stores, they wouldn’t use the words ‘Merry Christmas’? They’d say ‘Happy New Year’ … And I said, they will soon start saying ‘Merry Christmas’ again. Now they’re all saying ‘Merry Christmas again, right?” But it looks like Trump is leaving Kriss Kringle and his rosy-cheeked entourage in the dark this holiday season, which is just a tad too on-the-nose.
However bizarre it might be, the failed attempt to have COVID-19 immune Santas to promote public health is just a continuation of the Trump administration’s abject failure to protect the American people from a deadly virus that shows no signs of slowing down. Instead, it’s hitting records highs in as many as 20 states across the country. White House chief of staff Mark Meadows told Jake Tapper on Sunday during an appearance on CNN’s State of the Union, “We are not going to control the pandemic. We are going to control the fact that we get vaccines ,therapeutics, and other mitigation areas.”
And the message from the White House seems to be something along the lines of: “Well, you’re all going to get sick. Yes, even Santa Claus. And hey, some of you will probably die. Maybe even Santa Claus?” But as our president once actually said after 100,000 of you perished, “it is what it is.”
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