Brazil now has the world’s second-largest outbreak of COVID-19, with 375,000 confirmed cases, putting it a distant No. 2 to the U.S. and its 1.66 million cases. “President Jair Bolsonaro is deflecting all responsibility for the coronavirus crisis, casting blame on mayors, governors, an outgoing health minister, and the media,” The Associated Press reports. With one notable exception, he “has avoided acknowledging the potential effects of his actions, particularly in undermining local leaders’ stay-at-home recommendations.”
The exception was in mid-April. “Reopening commerce is a risk I run because, if it (the virus) gets worse, then it lands in my lap,” Bolsonaro said while introducing his third health minister of the pandemic, a general with no previous health experience. Less than two weeks later, as Brazil’s death toll shot up, AP notes, Bolsonaro told reporters: “You’re not going to put on my lap this count that isn’t mine.” Brazil now has nearly 23,500 COVID-19 deaths, though that number is almost certainly a significant undercount, thanks to insufficient testing and skepticism that the coronavirus is a real threat, especially among Bolsonaro supporters, as AP records in this video.
Brazil is “completely incapable of dealing with and responding to this crisis as this crisis should be responded to — with complete leadership, clear messages, political stability, and unity,” says Miguel Lago, executive director of Brazil’s Institute for Health Policy Studies. “That’s not the case here. Basically, what we’re seeing is a complete lack of seriousness and competence.” For all his public attacks on local coronavirus mitigation measures, however, Bolsonaro often — though not always — wears a face mask in public.
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President Trump, who barred most travel from Brazil to the U.S. on Sunday, won’t let photographers capture him wearing a mask, in the rare instances he puts one on. On Monday, in fact, Trump retweeted a post by Fox News senior political analyst Brit Hume mocking how former Vice President Joe Biden looked wearing a mask Monday.
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