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The New York Times file photo / Michael Caputo, then a Republican strategist and now the assistant secretary of health for public affairs, at a campaign event for a Republican congressional candidate in New York in 2018. Caputo has told a Facebook audience without evidence that left-wing hit squads were being trained for insurrection, and he accused CDC scientists of "sedition."

While President Trump returned to holding indoor rallies in Nevada on Sunday and Phoenix on Monday despite continuing COVID-19 concerns there, the Tennessee Department of Health reported 2,450 new COVID-19 cases Monday, bringing the state's case total to 174,274 cases.

And no, that's not Tennessee's total weekend number. It was a 24-hour, Monday number, including 19 new deaths for a total of 2,097 lost Tennesseans. On Sunday, the state reported 933 new cases and 14 deaths.

Because of Trump's and his administration's disdain for science about the virus and their lies and crazy conspiracy theories, (see the allegations of the Trump administration's systematic interference in the CDC's official reports below) this kind of zigzag in case numbers is true in many states. Most of our kids have been in and out of school now for about a month. The same is true of our college-age folks.

And let's talk about college-age folks.

In Ohio, college students who had tested positive for COVID-19 openly partied at a student house party without masks and in violation of the state's mass gathering and quarantine ordinance over the Labor Day weekend. It was caught on police bodycam footage as an officer arrived.

One of the young men tells the officer that 20 people (not the 10 allowed by law) are in the party, and as the officer runs the ID of a resident, his computer shows the student has tested positive for the virus. "Yes," the student says, and adds that every single person at the party has it.

"Oh, God. This is what we're trying to prevent the officer responds. "We want to keep this town open."

By the way, more than 1,000 students at that school have tested positive for COVID-19 since classes started this fall, according to Cincinnati's WKRC. And the university still plans to start in-person classes on Sept. 21.

And why not? It is, after all, what the president is modeling.

He tells reporter Bob Woodward on Feb. 7 that "You just breathe the air and that's how it's passed. ... This is deadly stuff. Then between the last days of February and the middle of March, he tells Americans: "In a couple of days is gonna be down to close to zero. ... Coronavirus. This is the new hoax ... You'll be fine. ... It's gonna 'miraculously' be gone by April once the weather warms up. ... I don't take responsibility at all." On March 19, talking to Woodward again, he said, "I still like playing it down, because I don't want to create a panic."

Remember the "I don't take responsibility at all" comment?

Well, actually the administration is taking some responsibility. Responsibility for blunting U.S. truth about the virus and blunting its guidance and response.

Michael Caputo, the assistant secretary of public affairs at HHS, last week was accused by Politico and other media of attempting to alter or halt the release of the CDC's Morbidity and Mortality Weekly Reports which are written by career scientists and prepared by the health agency. Caputo and his adviser Paul Alexander also are alleged to have sought to retroactively alter CDC reports they claimed incorrectly inflated the risks of the virus and to stop the release of other reports, including one on prescribing hydroxychloroquine, a drug touted by President Trump but shown to be dangerous.

Caputo, a former Trump campaign aide, conspiracy theorist and protege of another Trump ally, Roger Stone, also complained with Alexander, about a report that explained how children can transmit the coronavirus. Alexander asked the CDC to alter it or pull it down, saying the report could impact school reopening and hurt Trump politically.

Over the weekend, in a Facebook Live video, Caputo said falsely that CDC has a "resistance unit" against Trump. And he warned that left-wing hit squads would engage in armed insurrection after the election and that officials were engaging in "sedition" as they handled the pandemic.

"You understand that they're going to have to kill me, and unfortunately, I think that's where this is going," Caputo said.

Did we mention that Caputo once lived in Russia and worked for Russian politicians and was contacted in 2016 by a Russian who claimed to have damaging information about Hillary Clinton? Caputo has claimed that his family and his business suffered because of the investigation by special counsel Robert Mueller into Russian interference in the 2016 presidential election. But we digress.

Caputo's Facebook page, with 5,000 "friends," has since been made private, but the Facebook Live video was viewed more than 850 times, according to The New York Times.

On Monday, Caputo became the subject of a House subcommittee investigation into whether political appointees have meddled with routine government scientific data to better align with Trump's public statements about the pandemic.

And on Tuesday, Caputo apologized to the HHS staff "for drawing negative attention to the Trump administration's health care strategy." He signaled a desire for medical leave, according to Politico.

Too late. The White House handpicked and hired Caputo. Talk about responsibility.

Meanwhile, seven months after Trump told Woodward "this is dangerous stuff," an American is dying of the COVID-19 every two minutes. And according to a USA TODAY analysis of Johns Hopkins University data, another American is diagnosed with it every 2.45 seconds.

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