Oct 12, 2020
With more than 214,000 dead and almost 1,000 more dying every day, the U.S. response to the COVID-19 crisis has been catastrophic, the worst of any country in the world. The U.S. has had twice the death rate from COVID-19 as Canada and fifty times that of Japan, with a much older population. Far more people have died here than in China, which has four times as many people and is where the disease originated. Countries like South Korea and Singapore, with earlier and more intense early exposure to the disease, were able to stamp out their outbreaks relatively quickly.
According to the prestigious New England Journal of Medicine, this country’s COVID death rate is so high because the U.S. failed to take the necessary steps to protect the population.
After eight months, this country continues to fail to test effectively and isolate people exposed to the disease. We continue to lack sufficient protective gear for frontline workers. U.S. political leaders encouraged people not to take the obvious steps to protect themselves and others: quarantining when exposed, social distancing, wearing masks. In many parts of the country, even after more Americans have died than in all the wars since World War II, many people still refuse to take these steps.
No response was organized at the level of the nation to respond to the pandemic using this country’s considerable resources, including the Centers for Disease Control and the National Institute of Health. Instead, every state and locality was left to fend for itself, with varying success, but without sufficient resources anywhere.
And this country’s inability to rein in the virus has also increased the damage to ordinary life: while many other countries have been able to open up somewhat, the U.S. is still faced with extremely high rates of infection and deaths that keep people away from restaurants, bars, and other public gatherings. While in many other countries public schools are re-opening, in this country, most students are still stuck in front of computer screens.
In calling out the leaders of this country, the New England Journal of Medicine goes so far as to point out that “anyone else who recklessly squandered lives and money in this way would be suffering legal consequences.” We can go further. A system that cannot implement the most basic measures to protect human life has shown itself to be completely bankrupt.