Monday, September 7, 2020

 What did Donald Trump do today?

He once again gave himself "high marks" for fighting a disease that is killing Americans faster than any other nationality.

Trump used some of his "executive time" this morning to tweet about the "VERY high marks" he thinks he's getting for his handling of the COVID-19 outbreak in the United States, and specifically compared it to "other countries and areas of the world."

Comparisons with other countries make it clear that Americans are dying from COVID-19 in much, much higher numbers than any other wealthy country—and a great many of the poor ones.

The initial outbreak in the spring hit Europe and the United States about equally hard, but prompt and effective lockdowns combined with widespread testing and aggressive contact-tracing means that a far smaller proportion of Europeans are dying from COVID-19 than Americans. This chart shows the deaths per capita this summer in twenty wealthiest large countries.

Put another way, the United States has 4% of the world's population, but has suffered 22% of the world's COVID-19 deaths.

Put still another way, the United States has roughly the same population, and is roughly as wealthy on a per-person basis, as the combined populations of Germany, Japan, France, Australia, and Canada. In the previous seven days, 376 people died from COVID-19 in those five countries, but it killed 5,872 Americans.

Trump repeatedly and specifically rejected calls to lockdown like Canada, European, and Asian countries did, and resisted calling for Americans to wear masks because it would make him "look weak." He didn't explain his "high marks" comments at a press conference today, but he did theatrically pretend he couldn't hear a reporter who was wearing a mask.

Why should I care about this?

  • In a democracy, presidents aren't the ones who get to say whether they're doing a good job.
  • Preventing unnecessary American deaths should be a higher priority for the President of the United States than patting himself on the back.
  • It is possible Trump actually believes he is handling this pandemic well.