Summer 2020: Donald Trump’s Deadly Failure
While much of the world was getting COVID-19 under control, Trump’s desertion of duty caused more than 75,000 deaths.
There’s no way to sugarcoat this — this summer, the president of the United States was at fault for tens of thousands of American deaths.
He and his enablers in the Republican Party will keep telling you that “you have to use cases”, “we have the lowest death rate in the world” and “it’s about to disappear,” but none of that’s true. In a summer filled with chaotic events, this is a story the American people need to understand.
For weeks, Trump’s basic message has been that case numbers have been inflated by excessive testing, which the fake media uses to obscure the dwindling number of deaths.
Like everything else he’s said about the pandemic, that’s a lie. This spring, parts of our nation — New York City, Detroit, New Orleans, and the Northeast — suffered as badly as the worst-hit countries in Europe.
Using the meteorological definition of spring — March, April, and May — here are the death rates for the US, Canada and several large European nations.
COVID-19 Deaths Per Million Residents (DPM) — Spring 2020
1: Belgium, 825
2: Spain, 601
3: United Kingdom, 575
4: Italy, 553
5: Sweden, 454
6: France, 442
7: United States, 329
8: Switzerland, 223
9: Canada, 194
10: Germany, 103
11: Finland, 58
For the sake of comparison, Japan was at 7 DPM while South Korea finished May at 5.
By June 1 — the beginning of meteorological summer — most countries had lowered the case rate and death rate with a combination of lockdowns, self-quarantines, testing, social distancing and masks. The United States didn’t mandate masks, leaving every decision up to individual states, but the numbers were improving.
It didn’t last.
As other countries were pouring massive amounts of money into tracking outbreaks and following international guidelines to reopening their cities, Trump insisted states should return to normal immediately. At that point, states began lifting restrictions, ignoring the recommendations in the White House’s own plan.
Cases began to spike in early June as the result of large gatherings over Memorial Day weekend, and they’ve never stopped. The number of deaths initially stayed low, but that was only an illusion caused by the lag between positive tests and deaths.
On July 5, the country was averaging 521 deaths a day, but that doubled by month’s end. By early August, the average had moved over 1,100 and it had only dropped to 934 by the end of the month. In all, the United States sustained more than 78,000 COVID deaths during the months of June, July, and August.
That is fewer than the 108,000 deaths during the three months of spring, but how did it compare to the same nations we examined in the previous table?
Badly. Very, very badly.
COVID-19 Deaths Per Million Residents (DPM) — Summer 2020
1: United States, 234
2: Sweden, 111
3: Canada, 48
4: United Kingdom, 36
5: Belgium, 36
6: Italy, 34
7: France, 28
8: Spain, 23
9: Switzerland, 11
10: Germany, 9
11: Finland, 3
Once again, China’s neighbors avoided severe damage. Japan (3 DPM) matched Finland, while South Korea (1) was even better.
When Jonathan Swan tried to point these numbers out in an late July interview, Trump seemed genuinely confused.
When Swan asked why, Trump didn’t have a coherent answer.
The administration’s argument is, while case numbers have indeed skyrocketed, it is a meaningless statistic caused by our elevated levels of testing. The crucial point is our low death rate among people diagnosed with the coronavirus.
On July 19, Trump attacked Fox News host Chris Wallace for asking about the mortality rate, saying “you said we had the worst mortality rate in the world, and we have the best.”
Even if we did have the world’s lowest mortality rate, our extreme rate of cases has obviously caused an enormous number of deaths. As it turns out, though, we don’t have the best in the world. Again, we’re not even close.
Mortality Rate Among COVID-19 Patients — Summer 2020
1: Spain, 0.6%
2: Switzerland, 0.8%
3: Germany, 1.2%
4: France, 1.4%
5: Finland, 1.4%
6: Belgium, 1.5%
7: United States, 1.8%
8: Sweden, 2.6%
9: United Kingdom, 2.8%
10: Canada, 4.8%
11: Italy, 5.6%
There’s no way you can spin that as the world’s best mortality rate, especially when South Korea and Japan are each under 1% and India is at 1.4%.
Does this mean the United States has suffered more from the pandemic this summer than any other nation? No, although we’re close. Mexico had 424 DPM to our 234, at a staggering mortality rate of 10.7%.
Our death rate is also lower than several South American nations, but as residents of the Southern Hemisphere, they’ve just finished winter — the time of year expected to be the worst for COVID-19. Peru (582 DPM), Chile (527), Brazil (441), and Colombia (374) all had higher death rates over the last three months.
There’s no real sign of improvement for the United States, either. The last day of August saw 1,164 reported deaths and nearly 42,000 cases — numbers that don’t portend a strong fall recovery.
In my next story, I will break down a crucial aspect of America’s deadly summer — the way the impact varied by state and region. While some states approached 600 DPM, another was in single figures. I’ll try to explain how and why, including a look at the varied fortunes of the states hardest hit in the pandemic’s first weeks.
All statistics via Worldometers.