Watch out; COVID-19 has morphed. Yes, the deadly, diminutive disease has transmuted … into a political talking point, a numbers game.
A month ago, many news outlets reported that a study by Imperial College of London predicted that as many as 2.2 million Americans might die from the virus now called COVID-19. By the latter part of March that estimate was revised down to a range of 100,000 to 240,000. Now some experts are revising those projections down further. The not-surprising response to those declining numbers is a tempered sigh of relief from most Americans and gleeful boasts from the president and his cultists.
Boosting those boasts is speculation from Trump and many of his adoring acolytes that even the current lower-than-original-forecast numbers are inflated. Conservative conspiracy theory kook Candace Owens complained on Facebook, “If people die from heart disease, but were asymptomatic carriers of Covid-19, their deaths are counted toward the total.” However, Dr. Sally Aiken, President of the National Association of Medical Examiners, debunked that claim, calling it “ridiculous.”
Marc Lipsitch, a professor of epidemiology at Harvard University, explained: “There are going to be some people who die of something else, happen to have COVID and get tested, and get counted as COVID deaths but would die anyway. It would be wrong to say that number is zero. However given current testing shortages and protocols, the number of such cases will be small. A greater issue is errors in the other direction—deaths caused by COVID that are not counted as such.”
Despite such assurances from real experts, Trump and his nutso disciples such as Rush Limbaugh, Sean Hannity, and even the once relatively restrained Brit Hume persist in perpetuating this latest bonkers sedition assertion. Why?
Yes, you know; it’s the conservative con fabricated to cycle back to their earlier claim that the entire COVID panic was much ado about nothing. The whole thing was, they’ll claim, another liberal conspiracy cooked up to discredit their messiah. It will be their incessant election-cycle drumbeat.
It very well might turn out that—at least in the first wave—the pandemic will claim far fewer American lives than forecast in the early projections. If so, it will be because Americans, generally, did what we typically do during a crisis; we made the sacrifices required to combat the enemy. Any such success will be attributable to everyday Americans, not to the president’s superb leadership.
As many have accurately noted in several posts and comments on this blog site, Trump’s instincts, rhetoric, and reactions regarding the pandemic were virtually always wrong. Yet, if the mortality numbers do in fact come in significantly lower than initially projected, Trump will take credit. When he does, we must not let him get away with doing so. We must be prepared with the facts. We must be prepared to refute the mindless Trumpists when they attempt to credit their messiah with leading “a successful fight against COVID-19.” We should do our best to commit to memory facts such as the following:
Trump claim: “We’ve tested [for COVID-19] now more than anybody.”
Truth: In terms of raw numbers, the United States has tested more people for the coronavirus than Italy and South Korea but still lags far behind most other advanced nations in tests per capita.
Trump claim: When the first case of the virus was reported in the United States in January, Trump dismissed it as “one person coming in from China.”
Truth: By that time many were already infected.
Trump claim: “You call it germ, you can call it a flu. You can call it a virus. You can call it many different names.”
Truth: COVID-19 is not the common flu. The mortality rate for the coronavirus is about 10 times that of the flu and no vaccine or cure exists yet for the coronavirus.
Trump claim: “Nobody would ever believe a thing like that’s possible; it [the virus] snuck up on us.”
Truth: A 2019 government report said that “the United States and the world will remain vulnerable to the next flu pandemic or large scale outbreak of a contagious disease.”
The list could go on and on, but if you forget all the others, remember this one: The Trump Administration fired the U.S. Pandemic Response Team. Had that team remained intact, the nation would have been far better prepared than we were for this COVID-19 pandemic.
Do not allow the Trumpists to claim the moral high ground in this nutso numbers game.
Do not allow the Trumpists to claim the moral high ground in this nutso numbers game. Whether eighty thousand, one-hundred thousand, or half a million Americans die from COVID-19, America will have suffered one of the worst tragedies in its history, and much of the damage could have been avoided had it not been for Trump’s many blunders. We need to pound home that point repeatedly as election day approaches.