In theory, by this time next year we will all be vaccinated against COVID-19. And then we’ll hug and clap hands and laugh about the silly virus.
“That whole killer pandemic thing,” we will chortle. “What was that all about anyway?”
Well, before we banish the coronavirus and the entirety of 2020 into the deep, dark memory hole where we bury all our unpleasant thoughts, let’s take a moment to acknowledge the here and now.
You see, because of the Trump Administration’s unique combination of incompetence, hubris, idiocy, and depraved indifference, we are now at about 14 million Americans infected, with over 270,000 dead. We are seeing higher numbers of death on a daily basis, the equivalent of “a 9/11 every single day.”
In response, the administration has fluctuated between doing nothing, embracing denialism, promoting quackery, and dismissing the experts, which is “in keeping with their guiding philosophy that there is no problem so great that it cannot be solved by knowing less about it.”
Of course, this is not a recent collapse. Months ago, the administration basically gave up fighting the virus and hoped that “Americans will go numb to the escalating death toll and learn to accept tens of thousands of new cases a day.”
And that’s pretty much what conservatives have done. Hey, over half (52 percent) of Republicans believe that “the U.S. reaction to the COVID-19 pandemic is overblown,” which is double the percentage of Democrats who think the same thing.
So if you’re in the GOP, overflowing hospitals and widespread death is no reason to get all excited. This is despite the fact that “only cancer and heart disease will kill more Americans this year” than coronavirus. In fact, the bug has already “killed more than twice as many Americans as either strokes or Alzheimer’s disease, about four times as many as diabetes, and more than eight times as many as either gun violence or vehicle accidents.”
Again, none of that is reason to be concerned—if you’re a Republican.
If you are not, and you actually respect science, you might be interested to know that recent studies verify “what health officials have been telling us for months: Masks do work by significantly slowing the spread of COVID-19.” In fact, there may be up to “a 50% reduction in the spread of COVID-19 in counties that had a mask mandate compared to those without.”
But of course, our disease-ridden president mocked facemasks for months, and provoked the stupidest culture war of all time, apparently because masks weren’t manly or would hurt the economy or something similarly incoherent.
Oh, and speaking of Republicans and their favorite subject—the economy—keep in mind that mask mandates lead to “greater confidence and spending among consumers,” and “are also linked to higher consumer mobility.”
So if conservatives really wanted to rescue the economy, and not just kill grandma in a futile ploy to boost Wall Street, they would be clamoring for everyone to wear a mask. Also, the conservative insistence that lockdowns would destroy the economy looks even more pathetic now, considering that most economists say “the U.S. would be in a better economic position now if lockdowns had been more aggressive at the beginning of the crisis.”
In essence, the Trumpian approach killed more people and made the economy worse—a win-win only if you are a delusional Republican or a cackling demon from the underworld who loves human suffering.
Yes, the virus was always going to be bad, but this level of calamity is the direct result of an infantile, self-obsessed president and his “incessant destruction of reason, evidence and science in the service of his personal whims, conspiratorial mindset and political requirements.”
In future generations, there will be myriad books, documentaries, and feature films about American life during COVID-19. And they will all come to the same conclusion:
It didn’t have to be this bad.
Featured image: Saul Loeb/AFP via Getty Images