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Tue 31 March 2020
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The lives of Americans are being put in grave danger because of the President’s incompetence, misinformation and narcissism, says CJ Werleman.

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We now know that the life of an American is worth surprisingly little – and far less if you’re a member of the proclaimed “Greatest Generation”, according to US President Donald Trump. He is now promising that the country will be “open for business” come Easter Sunday, which falls on 12 April.

“I think Easter Sunday, you will have churches packed all over the country,” Trump said, arguing that Coronavirus lockdowns and social distancing guidelines were a cure “worse than the problem itself”.

The same day he predicted this on Fox News, the World Health Organisation said that the US could become the “global epicentre” of the Coronavirus pandemic, with new data revealing that the country is now tracking the world’s worst rate of COVID-19 spread – even surpassing Italy, a country of 60 million people, which has now seen more than 7,000 deaths.

“One of the forecasters said to me we were looking at a freight train coming across the country,” said New York Governor Andrew Cuomo. “We’re now looking at a bullet train.” He added that his state could be just two weeks from a crisis that sees 40,000 residents in intensive care.

On Tuesday, the US saw its number of known cases of Coronavirus pass 50,000, with 700 deaths – but Trump, who sees his political fortune inextricably tied to the value of the stock market, is defying pleas of every healthcare professional and contagious disease expert in promising to relax social distancing measures at the same time as the spread of the virus is accelerating and still weeks away from reaching its peak.

Worse, Trump’s sycophants in the media are now echoing the President, with Texas Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick telling Fox News that, if the choice comes down to saving the economy or allowing those older than 65 to die, then he’s “all in” with killing grandma. Fox News host and right-wing shock jock Glenn Beck told his audience: “Even if we all get sick, I would rather die than kill the country.”

These anti-public health and anti-science messages equate to potentially three to four million elderly Americans dying, in return for a short-term pop on the Dow Jones, Nasdaq, and S&P indexes – and short-term it will be, given that it is impossible to sustain consumer demand in an economy in which seven to 10% of the population is potentially dying before being carted away in military trucks.

It’s absurd to think that the US economy could bounce back or return to normal while the spread of the Coronavirus grows exponentially. It’s impossible to imagine people dining out in restaurants and going to the movies, while their friends and family members are battling serious forms of COVID-19 or dying in makeshift hospitals as a result of not being able to access a ventilator.

Essentially, Trump is choosing mass graves over social distancing, and the wellbeing of the stock market over the lives of those who are celebrated for their self-sacrifices in helping the country defeat Nazi Germany and Imperial Japan seven decades ago. 

If per capita GDP is $65,000 and, if economists are forecasting an 8 to 15% contraction in the economy because of the Coronavirus, then the value of one American life is less than $10,000, according to Trump. Capitalism has never looked so tawdry.

To make his argument, Trump is again falsely comparing COVID-19 to the seasonal flu, but no seasonal flu has ever crashed hospitals and entire healthcare systems, and we also know the Coronavirus to be 13 times more lethal than the seasonal flu and 23 times more lethal for those over 65. But by making such a comparison, a greater number of Americans will shun social distancing measures and further endanger other people’s lives.

Every time Trump steps behind the White House podium to address the country, the lives of Americans are arguably compromised because of his incompetence and misinformation, but if he defies health authorities by going ahead with his intention to relax lockdown protocol, he will have the blood of more than four million citizens on his hand, according to Imperial College’s worst-case scenario estimates, which are based on the assumption of weak suppression strategies.

God Bless America, because Trump has cursed it.


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