As the grim title of this post indicates, covid-19 has killed over 100,000 people in the United States. The sorrowful weight of it presses down on me, and my heart is heavy. And rightly so. With no vaccine available and places opening all around the United States, it is likely the death toll will continue to rise. How far? To 200,000? To 500,00? Who knows?
Whatever the case, a staggering number of people have died of it in a short time.
Eliza Mackintosh, of CNN, puts it in perspective:
In less than four months, the novel coronavirus has killed more than 100,000 Americans — more than in Vietnam, the Iraq War and the War in Afghanistan combined.
It is a story of lost mothers, fathers, grandparents, siblings, spouses and even children. An even bigger tragedy: They didn’t all have to die.
Stephen Collinson, also of CNN, expands on this:
A Columbia University study released last week found that had the US started social distancing a week earlier, it could have prevented the loss of at least 36,000 lives.
In the New York metro area alone, 17,500 fewer people would have died if the US had acted one week earlier, Columbia epidemiologist Jeffrey Shaman said.
Shameful. Yet recently on Facebook, a friend of a friend commented: “The cure cannot be worse than the disease… We must resume to live.”
I wrote back: “The cure is worse than death? For the 100,000 people who have died of covid-19 in this country? For the many, many more who will surely die as standards are relaxed?”
An argument ensued, and nobody’s mind was changed.
All the while, our president has put the coronovirus in his rear-view mirror, as though the virus is a pesky driver that can be passed and left behind. Onward to the 2020 election, which appears to be what is chiefly on the president’s mind. Suffering and death? Not so much.
There have been glimmers of hope. Not every country has behaved as stupidly as ours has. As the writer Umair Haque writes, “New Zealand… didn’t just flatten the curve. It ‘crunched’ it, as epidemiologists say. Do you know how many people died of the virus in New Zealand? Just 21. Twenty one….That’s a stunning accomplishment….Sure, New Zealand’s a small country. But being a big country doesn’t give you a license to just watch helplessly as thousands die. That’s just a rationalization for negligence.”
Can the U.S. learn from New Zealand and its admirable prime minister, Jacinda Ardern? Again, who knows?
Despite my heavy heart, I live in hope.