Last week, the United States met a historical moment with a collective shrug — as clear a signal as any the national nightmare that has made us the pity of the world will only grow deadlier in the months ahead.
According to data collected by Johns Hopkins University, the U.S. officially crossed 200,000 Covid-19 deaths. That figure — most likely a significant undercount — and the 6.8 million confirmed infections reaffirm how poorly America has failed to protect its population. In just six months, more Americans have died from the coronavirus than those that were killed in World War I, the Korean War, and the Vietnam War combined. And if our mortality rates continue, it will become the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.
“For comparison, by the end of the year we will likely have seen more deaths from Covid-19 than we saw from diabetes, influenza, pneumonia, kidney disease, and suicide combined in 2017,” Caitlin Rivers, an epidemiologist at the Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, explained in a recent interview.
Unsurprisingly, President Trump took a sociopathic approach to addressing the grim statistic.
When asked about the sickening milestone last week, Trump called it a “horrible thing” — but only after repeating his usual excuse that China “should have stopped” the virus. As for his own gross mishandling, his response was to argue had it not been for his administration’s efforts, “you could have 2 million… or 3 million.”
I presume Mulatto, Megan Thee Stallion, and the City Girls at least have some kind of rapid testing. And to the rest of the folks in the club with no mask on? Good luck — y’all gon’ need it.
Trump’s callousness is, by now, expected, but the problem isn’t being surprised by Trump’s depravity — it’s allowing him to numb you to the point that we mirror his behavior.
Now isn’t the time for American exceptionalism to catch stage fright.
We have earned this shame. We need to discuss it. We owe it to the lives of the people that have died. We owe it to those grieving these losses right now.
None of us are individually responsible for these deaths. Such blame goes squarely on the Trump regime, along with so many other actors in state and local governments. And businesses that put profit ahead of their workers. Those 200,000 people are dead for many reasons, but what they all share is that they deserve national recognition.
This country has been besieged with untold death in tragically swift time — and societal ills are making those deaths more frequent for some than others.
The APM Research Lab’s most recent update of Covid-19 deaths show have reached new highs for all race groups (as of 09/16):
1 in 1,020 Black Americans has died (or 97.9 deaths per 100,000)
1 in 1,220 Indigenous Americans has died (or 81.9 deaths per 100,000)
1 in 1,400 Pacific Islander Americans has died (or 71.5 deaths per 100,000)
1 in 1,540 Latino Americans has died (or 64.7 deaths per 100,000)
1 in 2,150 White Americans has died (or 46.6 deaths per 100,000)
1 in 2,470 Asian Americans has died (or 40.4 deaths per 100,000)
According to recent data reported by the CDC, 83% of American youth who have died of Covid-19 were nonwhite.
Maybe you still haven’t been affected directly — maybe you haven’t lost a loved one or friend — but based on how things are trending, it might not take much longer. None of us should anticipate anything short of the worst in the coming months.
Australia may have had a low flu season, but the hope it sparked in American health care officials for a similar fate stateside suggests wishful thinking. In Australia, they don’t argue much about the need to follow instructions like putting on a mask, washing your hands, and staying the fuck home until we calm shit down. Americans are divided on mask usage thanks to Donald Trump, Fox News, and conspiracy theories running rampant on social media.
Americans are literally fighting each other over mask usage (or lack thereof) at grocery stores, at Walmarts.
People are also partying through the plague. I worry about many friends, family members, and favorite female rappers, but I don’t preach to grown folks this deep into the plague. People are going to do what they want to do. That said, I presume Mulatto, Megan Thee Stallion, and the City Girls at least have some kind of rapid testing. And to the rest of the folks in the club with no mask on? Good luck — y’all gon’ need it.
And yet local governments are still allowing it all to play in this dumb parable of a year. Florida Governor Ron DeSantis has recently decided to fully open bars and restaurants — a choice that concerns Anthony Fauci, MD, one of the few public figures to maintain good sense throughout this ordeal. “When you’re dealing with community spread,” Fauci said on Good Morning America this week, “and you have the kind of congregate setting where people get together — particularly without masks — you’re really asking for trouble.”
A country that never stopped its first wave is doomed to fail its looming second.
As it stands now, 410,000 Americans are predicted to die by January 1, according to the latest forecast from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) at the University of Washington.
“The worst is yet to come,” IHME director Christopher Murray, MD, told reporters on a conference call. “I don’t think perhaps that’s a surprise, although I think there’s a natural tendency as we’re a little bit in the Northern Hemisphere summer, to think maybe the epidemic is going away,”
Even Trump’s number two has had to state the obvious. On Monday, Vice President Pence said that Americans should expect cases to rise “in the days ahead.” Of course, he neglected to mention his active role in helping that come to fruition: The New York Times reports that top White House officials pressured the CDC this summer to downplay the risk of sending children back to school — among them Pence’s chief of staff Marc Short and White House coronavirus task coordinator Deborah Birx, MD.
As governor, Mike Pence let the HIV crisis worsen in Indiana because he refused to share free needles. He was willing to let those folks die then, so it’s nothing to him to kill your children now.
I only hope that one day the criminals who make up the Trump regime will get what they deserve for letting so many Americans die. First, though, there has to be wider acknowledgment of what we’ve lost and what got us here.
It’s true that sitting around in distress won’t fix anything — but not recognizing the lives already lost only helps pave the road to future losses.