There are about 7.8 billion people in the world. Of that total, 331 million live in the United States. We represent about 4.2 percent of the total world population.
Yet, at the time the world COVID-19 death toll surpassed one million, the U.S. was responsible for 200,000 of those deaths – right at 20 percent of the casualties.
That level of over-achievement should concern us all. The deliberate lack of national leadership turned a health crisis into a political football. And Donald Trump fumbled.
Trump lied; people died.
Acknowledging – on tape in his own words – that the coronavirus was a deadly health threat, our president chose to spout the opposite viewpoint, declared Wall Street profits a priority over people’s lives, continued to hold open rallies full of crowded, unmasked followers and even mocked people who wore masks in an effort to stop the spread of the killer COVID.
So, this week began with our president a resident at Walter Reed National Military Medical Center in Bethesda, MD., allegedly being treated for his own case of COVID-19. His third wife, our first lady, being much younger and healthier, is being treated for her own infection at the White House.
We haven’t been updated on the condition or treatment of Trump’s favorite aide Hope Hicks. It was the announcement late Thursday that she had become infected that prepared us for what we learned Friday morning.
Here are some Huffington Post headlines from the weekend.
• “Cavalier White House approach to COVID catches up to Trump: Reckless disregard for coronavirus safety precautions comes home — and a White House event for Amy Coney Barrett may have been a superspreader event.”
• “Docs: Trump blood oxygen dropped twice – steroid administered.”
• “Superspreader Trump attended fundraiser after COVID-19 risk was clear.”
• “Exclusive: Contact tracers didn’t get full list of Trump campaign event attendees for 24 hours.”
• “Trump campaign aide defends first family’s refusal to wear masks at debate.”
• “Kellyanne Conway tests positive after attending W.H. event
• “Trump faces credibility crisis over health scare.”
The last headline refers to Trump downplaying the seriousness of the disease over the past ten months. But, can a president who has logged more than 20,000 lies in less than four years be trusted about anything?
Sunday’s Huffington Post headline screamed: “TRUMP CREDIBILITY CRISIS — NOBODY BELIEVES HIM!”
While Democratic presidential candidate Joe Biden – whom Trump has chided for wearing a mask – and other party leaders have been appropriately solicitous of the first family’s health, others suggest the COVID-19 announcement is a cynical sympathy play, a ploy to avoid future debates, a publicity stunt where Trump emerges as a survivor — breaking quarantine to bask in the cheers of his supporters – or maybe an excuse to try to stop an election he is afraid he might lose…
I’ll stick with the official version: the president is sick. His egomaniacal demand for public adulation finally caught up with him. Politicizing a health crisis instead of trying to protect us, has resulted in severe consequences for all of us, death for many – including his own supporters, whose survivors have chastised him publicly.
Not only is the United States accountable for 20 percent of the world’s COVID-19 deaths, but as of Sunday we represented a solid 20 percent of all cases: 7,329,00 out of 34,905,000.
Suppose we had had the leadership to keep our cases representative of our population. As 4.2 percent of the world, we should have about 1,460,000 cases. Our current death rate from the virus is about 2.8 percent. Applying that to 1.46 million, and we would have 44,000 deaths instead of pushing past 210,000 sometime this week.
But we had no leadership. We are still in the first phase of the epidemic since no precautions have been put into place to stem its tide.
Sunday Trump sent a message: “I think I’ll be back soon.”
We can hope that the experience might have taught him something. We can hope, too, that his cult followers will open their eyes to how dangerous he is – to them as well as himself.