In one of the rare expressions of empathy that Donald Trump has shown during the coronavirus pandemic, he spoke earlier this month about the illness that claimed so many lives that it was “filling Yankee Stadium with death.”
Now the death toll from Covid-19 is almost twice as much as Yankee’s home stadium and has reached a further thriving landmark: 1
A country that is proud of its exceptionalism can now undoubtedly claim that title for its experience of the virus. The United States stands at the top of the world-wide table of confirmed cases, as well as the total number of deaths.
There will be much to analyze in the coming years about how the United States responded to this contagion, including how many lives have disappeared unnecessarily as a result of Trump’s response to maverick.
A lesson about the pandemic is already clear: America’s deep and brutal fall lines – of race, partisanship, gender, poverty and misinformation – made the country poorly prepared to face the challenges of this disease. Rovages by Covid-19 have revealed the deep cracks in the glittering facade of the richest and most powerful nation on earth.
Covid-19 should be a killer with equal opportunities. It likes to rule the lungs of all Americans, regardless of skin color or visa status.
But when America passes the 100,000 death mark, it has become very clear that the pandemic corresponds to a race disaster with fantastic proportions. Figures compiled by APM Research Lab from 40 states show that African Americans are killed nearly three times as much as white people.
Black Kansans are seven times more likely to die of the virus than white Kansans. In Missouri, Wisconsin and Washington DC, the ratio is six times.
Such grotesque distortions are most visible in New York City, the giant laboratory test for virulent race inequality. Data released this week showed that when the city’s zip code is counted to the highest death rates, eight of the top 10 have black or latin populations.
None of the ten are in rich, largely white Manhattan.
The Trump administration says that the high death rate of black Americans is because they were already unhealthy. They have “greater risk profiles”, such as Health Secretary Alex Azar, Set it. It is true that diabetes, hypertension, obesity and other underlying health conditions are more common in many black communities. But focusing on these co-morbidities is equivalent to harming the victim.
During an election year, that would suit Trump very well. What better way to divert attention from his administration’s harsh handling of the pandemic than to lift the limelight against the dead themselves?
Decades of segregation, uncomfortable housing, unemployment, stress, police brutality, bad hospitals, lack of health insurance, failed schools – these are also relevant factors that the White House usually overlook. Also, it is the discrimination in access to testing and treatment of coronaviruses that has increased the chance of black people being affected and then dying from the disease.
Cornel West, the Harvard philosopher, activist and writer, argues that you have to dig deeper to find the source of such disproportionate fatalities. “The virus encounters deeply racist structures and institutions that already exist, in the face of wealth inequality, a militarized state and a commodified culture where everyone and everything is for sale,” he said.
For West, the pandemic has revealed nothing less than the country’s downfall. “America has become a failed social experiment, a dilapidated empire that cannot meet its basic needs.”
When the United States has endured past attacks by stealthy enemies – Pearl Harbor, say, or 9/11 – the White House has made an effort to rally the nation around a joint defense. Not so this time.
When Americans are asked about key policies related to coronavirus, such as when shutting down should be facilitated and economies reopened, their response is strongly partisan. A study by the University of Chicago showed that 77% of Democrats want restrictions on locking to remain as long as needed to protect health, while only 45% of Republicans hold that view.
“Politics More than Economy Shares Americans,” concluded the Chicago researchers.
Trump has adopted a similar partisan stance. Instead of acting for the nation as a whole, he has given party political points points ahead of the November presidential election.
Republican states such as Florida have received all the emergency medical supplies they requested from federal agencies. Democratic has changed short.
Trump admitted he rejected calls from Democratic governors who “don’t treat you right.” He threatened financial sanctions against democratic states for trying to facilitate voting in the absence of the pandemic.
To Kamala Harris, the former Democratic presidential candidate, indicates such traits that the president is “worried about the outcome of the upcoming election rather than the safety of people.”
Harris, a California senator from California, told the Guardian that for many citizens, especially African Americans, the consequences of such a party job are “life and death. Within a few months, 100,000 Americans have died. That’s more than 40 times those who died in Pearl Harbor. “
Among the 100,000 victims, there are also partisan cracks. It is no surprise that democratic parts of the country have been severely affected as they include the major cities such as New York and Chicago where the virus has hit most aggressively.
Reuters has reported that the United States, which has voted for Hillary Clinton in the 2016 presidential election, has recorded 39 deaths from Covid-19 per 100,000 residents, three times as much as the counties that went for Trump.
For Harris, it doesn’t matter which party a victim supports. “We must remember that every death is one for many. This is a moment where we all – regardless of our position or title – must come together to lift the American people up. “
The gender division
One of the paradoxes of coronavirus in the United States is that while men die in greater proportions, it is women who suffer most when living with the pandemic.
In New York, men die almost twice as much as women. But in all other aspects of this epic infection, the burden is borne by women. Most of the front line healthcare workers, including nine out of ten nurses, are female and put them in the thick of the storm.
Then there is the tide of US unemployment: 55% of jobs lost last month were held by women.
Within the lockdown at home, women should also be burdened, whether they are one of 80% of single parents in the United States who are headed by women or are in heterosexual relationships and take on most of the homeschooling. It is before you consider the normal imbalance in childcare and household chores that has intensified.
Rebecca Solnit, the influential author whose book Men Explain Things to Me gave rise to the phrase “mansplaining,” summed up the pithily effect of the pandemic for American women. “Everything wrong with life at home was very wrong,” she said.
“Whether it’s the increase in domestic violence and the disappearance of escape from it, how the sudden demand by parents across the United States to become a homeschooler primarily fell on women, and that heterosexual men living with women are still far from their fairs proportion of domestic labor. “
Solnit pointed out the contradiction that while most face masks are voluntarily sewn by women, men are much more likely to refuse to wear protective clothing because they show “weakness”. Impressions of careless masculinity begin at the top – Trump recently toured a mask-making factory in Arizona without wearing a mask.
Solnit offered the Guardian a couple of pandemic remedies for men who behaved badly during the pandemic. “Divorce can be a treatment in some cases,” she said, “feminism applied liberally across all parties to the only known cure.”
Coronavirus in America is a disease of the poor. That is the view of Pastor William Barber, co-chair of the Poor People’s Campaign.
“People are forced to work and make a profit over protection,” he said. “This pandemic will highlight how poverty – and our willingness to let people stay in it – poses a clear and present danger to all of us.”
Barber, a leading voice on income inequality that saw 41 million people officially living in poverty even before the virus landed in the United States, also pointed out that coronavirus is a disease that benefits the wealthy. “Billionaires have earned nearly $ 500 million, while important workers have not even been guaranteed health care, a living wage or a water supply that is protected from being shut down,” he said.
As with race, the fall line inequality is clearly evident in New York City, where more than 21,000 of the 100,000 have died. Many low-income people in outer districts are required to risk their lives by signing up for work every day, labeled as “essential workers,” while Manshan’s wealthy neighborhoods have become virtual ghost towns after their residents fled to vacation homes.
It will take time for the entire mortality rate among low-income Americans to become known, but anecdotally, it is clear that the poorest counties have been hit hardest. It is evident in southern states such as Louisiana and Alabama where low-income earners have died in high proportions through a combination of lack of health insurance, hospital closures, and policies implemented by southern governors that put vulnerable citizens at risk.
There is nothing new in this for the besieged souls who now feel the full force of the wrath of the virus. But coronavirus has made an old story recently visible, as the endless lines at the food banks now attest.
The infographic of misinformation that has hit the country in the last four months begins with the misinformer: Trump.
From the beginning of the crisis, the president has shown contempt for facts. On February 27, the day the country first mourned a death from Covid-19, he predicted the virus would “disappear” as a “miracle.”
He has also spread unsubstantiated claims that coronavirus began in a Chinese laboratory. He also promoted untested and potentially life-threatening treatments, including disinfectants and the anti-malaria drug hydroxychloroquine, which he revealed he was taking himself – against the advice of his own administration.
Trump’s embrace of truths has drawn peddlers into misinformation, including sellers of bleach as a miracle cure. And it has imperiled life. An Arizona man died and his wife was hospitalized after taking chloroquine phosphate – used to clean fish containers.
All that is part of an unmatched wave of misinformation that has swept the United States. “I’ve never seen so much of this,” said Claire Wardle, director of First Draft, a nonprofit that handles misinformation around the world.
Early in the crisis, rumors began that the lockdown would see the government introduce war laws through circulated apps and texts. Over the past six weeks, there has been an explosion of conspiracy theories on social media, confirmed by the Plandemic documentary, which claimed that a cabal led by Bill Gates used the virus to seize power.
Wardle has been amazed at how quickly conspiracy theories have broken out into the mainstream. “You have friends from high school and mothers and aunts who would normally never share this material.”
Wardle sees the huge spread of misinformation as a result of deep uncertainty about the pandemic, coupled with a lack of quality information following the collapse of the American news industry, which itself has been accelerated by the economic impact of the virus.
Poor information costs lives. It can encourage states to re-open their economies steeply and attract individuals to release their guard and expose themselves to the virus.
Wardle said: “Historians will look back on all this and have a much clearer idea of how misinformation led to real harm – and death.”