It’s been five and a half months since the first case of COVID-19 was diagnosed in the United States. That was January 20. Since then, over three million Americans have been infected with the virus and more than one hundred thirty thousand of them have died. Virtually every country on the globe has been impacted by this pandemic, yet all but a handful of them have managed to slow the spread considerably. Those handful of countries include Russia, India, Brazil, Sweden and us.
Europe, which was once the epicenter of this virus, has for the most part driven it into the ground. Consider that in late March, Italy was averaging over 5,000 cases per day and now that number is down to around 200. Likewise, Spain went from a high of 8,200 cases per day in late March and early April to just over 300 cases as of yesterday.
Canada went from a record high of 2,700 cases per day in early May to an average of 300 per day over the last week. South Korea, which had its first reported case the same day as the United States, is now averaging just over 50 cases per day. By contrast, the U.S. is averaging about 55,000 cases per day, up from around 19,000 cases per day only a month ago. Not only have we not flattened the curve, the curve is increasing almost exponentially. At its current rate of growth, the United States could be looking at 100,000 cases per day by September.
Keep in mind, this is not the dreaded second wave that everyone was so worried about back in May; it’s still the first wave. Yep, as bad as it looks right now, just wait until the Fall when we actually have to contend with a second wave on top of what promises to be a very active flu season. We might be looking at a repeat of 1918, when 200,000 people died in October alone from the worst influenza outbreak in the nation’s history.
It didn’t have to be this way, America. Had this president and his administration been on top if this crisis early, things would not have gotten so out of hand. Yes, the U.S. would certainly have had casualties, just like every other country, but the damage could’ve been substantially mitigated. The last time there was this much negligence concerning a known, major threat, a luxury liner was steaming at full speed through an ice field in the North Atlantic.
This might be the only time you ever hear me say this, but I’m glad I live in New York, one of the precious few states that took this threat seriously and listened to the medical experts. Whatever else you can say about Governor Andrew Cuomo, the guy has balls of steel. He took enormous heat early in this pandemic when he virtually shut the state down, not just for a couple of weeks, mind you, but for three months. It wasn’t until June 8 that Cuomo began to reopen the state in stages. That allowed the economy to slowly recover while preventing the virus from flaring up like it now has in almost three quarters of the country. Hate him if you will, but New York is now one of the safest states in the country to live. How safe? After seeing a peek of 11,000 cases per day in mid-April, New York has averaged less than a thousand cases per day for the last three weeks.
Conversely, states like Florida, Georgia, South Carolina, Alabama, Mississippi, Texas, Oklahoma, and Arizona are all seeing dramatic increases in their infection rates because their governors, instead of listening to the medical experts who knew what they were taking about, chose to listen to the dumbest human being ever to occupy the White House; and that’s saying something given that George W. Bush once lived there. What’s happening in Texas and Florida is particularly ominous. In just the last month, the former has seen an increase in daily cases from 1,500 to over 10,000; the latter has seen a tenfold increase from one thousand cases per day to ten thousand.
Trump’s refusal to take the virus seriously in January and February; his unwillingness to come up with a national strategy that could’ve made a difference early; his berating of Democratic governors who were left to fend for themselves; his insistence that the virus would “magically” disappear by the Spring, and his endless blame game and scapegoating have all contributed to one of the worst responses of any national government on the planet. And here’s the irony: the economy, the thing Trump most cared about, is still going to be in a deep recession, even with the forced openings. You can’t expect 300 million consumers to behave as though everything is hunky dory when they can clearly see that it isn’t. Trump’s core supporters may be that delusional, but the majority of Americans aren’t.
And while the virus is spreading like wildfire in red states across the country – like I predicted it would – Trump is doing his best impersonation of Sgt. Schultz by seeing, hearing and knowing nothing. It’s not enough that he’s putting the health of his minions at risk by continuing to hold his little Hitler rallies, he’s now threatening to cut off federal funding to states that don’t fully and completely open up their school districts. Let me put that another way: Trump is willing to risk the lives of children just so he can brag that the country is back to normal. Only a very sick and twisted individual would do such a thing.
To reiterate, it didn’t have to be this way, America. As supposedly the greatest nation on the face of the Earth, we should’ve had better leadership from the top; we should’ve had a president who wasn’t an incompetent asshole and a world-class narcissist. It’s clear that the presidential election of 2016 was the most consequential in American politics. What’s not clear is whether enough voters will do something about that colossal blunder come this November.
In less than four months we’ll find out.