An unusual increase in SARS CoV-2 infections and an enhancement of the COVID-19 epidemic in the United States are disturbing and dangerous. Disturbances come from President Trump’s cavalier and inept handling of the epidemic, emphasized by his constant prevarications, departure from reality, misleading the American public, and sidetracking the important health issue into becoming an economic issue.
Danger arises from the nation losing confidence in its medical agencies, from medical fatigue, and from criticized medical personnel losing faith in themselves. Unlike other nations that faced a rapid rise in cases and deaths due to lack of preparedness and were able to readjust, provide adequate resources, satisfactorily engage the epidemic and reduce it to a manageable situation within three months, the United States has struggled with the epidemic for four months and has a case load and death load not much less than those at the beginning of May. Recorded deaths on July 14 are 935, not much less than the 1074 on May 3. Will medical personnel be able to cope much longer with an epidemic that has no end in sight and with personal and physical situations that have no social compensation and psychological balance? Will a nation be able to retain confidence in its leaders when its president shows little compassion and uses a press conference to attack his opponents rather than to soothe his citizens?
Trump’s use of a White House press conference as a campaign speech that attacks his opponent and twists the facts is inexcusable and incomprehensible. Although Presidents, unlike civil servants are not subject to penalties for electioneering on government grounds, no decent and honorable Chief Executive would blacken the White House with that advantage. Trump’s statements on COVID-19 before a captured and immobile audience added to the stream of lies he has already told.
- Trump said the United States has the lowest death rate in the world from SARS CoV-2 infections.
Fact: According to Worldometer, as of July 14, the U.S. has a death rate of 421/million, which is a higher death rate than 207 other nations and a lower death rate then only six nations, of which three are largely populated nations. In these nations, the deaths have declined to low double digits, while, in the U.S., deaths remain high and the death rate is increasing
- Trump said the U.S has, by far, the greatest number of daily tests.
Fact: Trump did not mention that the U.S. has the world’s third largest population, the world’s largest number of cases, and longest run of an epidemic that has still not abated, all of which have contributed to continuous large scale testing. Daily testing has remained constant at 550-650 tests daily. The more significant figure is number of tests/population, in which the U. S. is seventeenth in the world and third among the major nations. It achieved the third position by default; other nations have recovered from the epidemic and no longer require much testing.
- Trump said that deaths have fallen tenfold.
Fact: Deaths fell from a high of 2700 deaths in one day to a low of 262 deaths on July 5. Since then, deaths have risen to almost 1000 daily. The major western European nations have had a monotonic fall of deaths to low double digits of 10-20/day and maintain that pace.
- Trump said that U.S. manufacturing, under his leadership, has provided sufficient ventilators.
Fact Trump did not relate that accelerated production did not start until April 1, and after other sources had mostly filled the needs. As one example, New York Governor, Andrew Cuomo, said at a briefing that, “the Chinese government is sending New York 1,000 ventilators and Oregon is shipping another 140 to help respond to the state’s ballooning number of Covid-19 patients.”
- Trump said that cutting the number of tests in half will half the number of cases.
Fact: Do not the number of cases stay the same; they are just not noted? More significant is the ratio of positive tests to number of tests. Since June 15, this ratio has steadily increased from 4.4 to 8.0, almost double. Number of tests has been relatively constant, alternating between 550 and 650/day.
Continuation of a contagion beyond its half-life has exhausted the nation. Following guidelines and rules and then observing they have not resolved the situation leads to hopelessness. Hopelessness leads to desperation. Desperation clouds rational decision. Making irrational decisions, which is occurring from several state governors, is a dangerous state. The bottom line is that with 4-5 percent of the world’s population, the United States has 25 percent of the COVID-19 cases and 25 percent of the COVID-19 deaths, a statistic that remains and continues to rise, and without end in sight.
God help America.
Dan Lieberman edits Alternative Insight, a commentary on foreign policy, economics, and politics. He is author of the book A Third Party Can Succeed in America, a Kindle: The Artistry of a Dog, and a novel: The Victory (under a pen name). Dan can be reached at email@example.com