Thursday, July 2, 2020

What did Donald Trump do today?

He said the COVID-19 pandemic was "getting under control" in the United States.

The United States set yet another record today with more than 57,000 positive COVID-19 tests, smashing yesterday's record of 51,000. Few countries have failed as spectacularly as the United States to contain or even slow the virus.

Today, Trump attempted to explain the discrepancy with places like China (which instituted a drastic and immediate lockdown) and Europe (where countries imposed severe restrictions on movement relatively early). 

China was way early, and they're getting under control just now. And Europe was way early, and they're getting under control. We followed them, with this terrible China virus. And, uh, we are likewise getting under control. 

We are not.

In reality, the pandemic has been almost entirely suppressed in China for several months now, and the first wave hit Europe just a week or two before the United States. The United States is the only large country in the world, except for Brazil, to completely fail to contain its first outbreak.

This chart shows the number of positive cases reported daily in the ten largest countries in the world (counting the European Union, with its population similar to the United States). It shows the number of new cases on a per capita basis, and it starts each country's line on the day when that number passed one confirmed case per ten million people. In other words, it controls for the size of the country and the time the outbreak started in that country.


The same pattern emerges in the count of COVID-19 deaths. The United States is doing slightly better than Mexico and Brazil, countries where health care is often extremely limited outside of cities.

Why should I care about this?

  • A president who cannot even admit that there is a problem cannot solve it.