The 100,000 dead in the United States: this is how the most powerful country in the world has failed | International

A plaque with the motto "God bless America" ​​in a Cemetery of Staten Island, in New York, this Monday, day of commemoration of those killed in combat.
A plaque with the motto “God bless America” ​​in a Cemetery of Staten Island, in New York, this Monday, day of commemoration of those killed in combat.JEENAH MOON / Reuters

One of the most eloquent images of this crisis was offered on a Saturday in late March by the Mayor of New York, Bill de Blasio, when he went to the UN headquarters to collect a batch of 250,000 masks donated by the agency because the almighty city Of the skyscrapers, a symbol of wealth in the richest country in the world, it did not have enough — no face masks, no respirators, no hospital beds — for the looming wave of Covid-19 patients. The so-called patient zero in the United States presented on January 21 at a Seattle hospital with some fever. The first deceased, a 60-year-old woman from California, occurred on February 6. From there, a host of errors, ignored alerts and new and old deficiencies have led to disaster without one of the most robust scientific communities on the planet having been able to avoid it.

The United States is on the verge of reaching 100,000 deaths from coronavirus (it had 98,493 by mid-afternoon on Tuesday, according to the Johns Hopkins University count), far from the 60,000 that the Administration calculated in its most optimistic forecasts or the 58,000 fallen in the Vietnam War, a trauma recorded in the American collective imagination as a yardstick for measuring tragedies. More than 1.6 million have tested positive for diagnostic tests. In a country with 330 million inhabitants, the national mortality ratio is much lower than that of Spain, but severely punished territories such as New York distort the photo.


The USA is the country in the world with the most cases, followed very far from Brazil.

It is also the country with the most deaths, well ahead of the United Kingdom.

Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

The USA is the country in the world with the most cases, followed very far from Brazil.

It is also the country with the most deaths, well ahead of the United Kingdom.

Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

The USA is the country in the world with the most cases, followed very far from Brazil.

It is also the country with the most deaths, well ahead of the United Kingdom.

Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

The pandemic has portrayed the country’s racial and social gap, hitting the poor and minorities hardest, and reflecting the international withdrawal of the United States. Donald Trump has compared this challenge to World War II, but the United States emerged from that conflict strengthened as a global leader, as a world guardian of freedoms. This time, while accelerating in the global vaccine race, he has been unable to do much more than help himself.

Alerts from the first day

The Trump Administration has been informed since arriving at the White House that a pandemic of this severity was a very real threat. Not only did he not prepare the answer, but he reduced the personal and material means to deal with it.

On January 13, 2017, seven days before Trump’s inauguration as president, the outgoing team of Barack Obama informed the incoming team, in the usual transition exercise, of the risk that H9N2 bird flu would become ” the worst flu pandemic since 1918. ” Potential challenges such as respirator shortages and the “overriding” need for a coordinated national response are reported. In April 2018, when he became National Security Adviser, John Bolton fired Timothy Ziemer, who was in charge of leading the White House response to a pandemic. He is not replaced and his equipment is scattered. His abrupt dismissal means that there is no longer a senior official exclusively charged with global health security.

On February 9, 2018, the president signs a law that cuts $ 1.35 billion in 10-year funding to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In September 2018, the Department of Health and Human Services diverted $ 266 million of CDC funding to earmark it for the immigrant child detention program.

The first case of covid-19 emerges in the Chinese province of Hubei on November 17, 2019. By the end of that month, US intelligence agencies, which had been warning for at least three years of the “great threat” of a pandemic , warn of a “cataclysmic” and “out of control” disease. In January, the head of the Food and Drug Administration (FDA), Stephen Hahn, asks the Department of Health if he can start contacting companies about the supply of personal protective equipment. They say no. They respond, according to The Wall Street Journal, That could alarm the industry and make it appear that the Administration was not ready.

On January 18, Alex Azar, Health Secretary, tries to speak to Trump for the first time about the epidemic. They have a phone conversation, but the president wants to talk about electronic cigarettes (the United States had just banned flavored cigarettes) and not about the coronavirus. On the same day, Rick Bright, director of the Advanced Biomedical Research and Development Authority, today set aside by Trump, calls for a coordinated coronavirus response group to be launched. They tell him that they don’t think it’s urgent.

On January 30, the WHO declares that the coronavirus outbreak is an international public health emergency. Three days later Trump restricts entry to the country from China and, on February 11, travel from Europe. That day the WHO declares the global pandemic outbreak.

The CDC refuse to use the WHO diagnostic tests, and decide to manufacture their own, which would eventually prove to be defective, resulting in a serious delay in the initial ability to perform tests. By mid-February, the public health team is clear that schools and businesses in hot spots should be closed, and that the government should recommend physical distance and telework. But it takes three weeks to convince the President of the dire consequences of not acting fast. On March 13 President Trump declares a national emergency.

The most outlandish and isolated Trump

Donald Trump’s average voter has dramatized the president’s antics, a concept that ranges from public insults against other world leaders to photo montages on social networks or constant fights with journalists. Of course they don’t like it, they say, I wish I didn’t tweet, but underneath all that pyrotechnics, they highlight, there’s only one Republican cutting taxes, appointing conservative justices on the Supreme Court and cutting down on irregular immigration. When the histrionic Trump, a tycoon turned into showman On television, he won the elections, analyzes and debates proliferated on whether the American system, with its solid agencies and institutions, would counteract the extravagances of the new White House tenant.

What real effects does it have for the president to use an image with winks to the series Game of Thrones to threaten sanctions against Iran? How much does it matter that you call Canada’s Prime Minister “weak” and “false” on Twitter? What defines your press conferences as rock concerts? What are the real risks of the estrambote?

The question was definitively answered on April 23, when in the midst of the worst pandemic in a century, with more than 23,000 Americans dead, the president suggested at a press conference to use disinfectant injections to kill the virus. “I see the disinfectant, which leaves KO in a minute, is there any way we can do something like that by injection? Because you see that it enters the lungs and does tremendous damage to the lungs, so it would be interesting to try it, “he said. Two days later, he claimed he was being sarcastic. Maryland State emergency authorities had to send an alert to citizens asking them not to drink disinfectant. They had received more than 100 calls asking about their possible consumption as treatment.

Trump settled in denial for weeks, downplayed the covid-19, went on to say it would go away as “a miracle” (February 27), and equated it with the common flu (March 9). Then it went into combustion. Over the course of two months, he has given misinformation about vaccines and treatments and has publicly contravened all of his experts and his own official recommendations, such as when he encouraged the reopening of the country on Easter Sunday, when he launched the most aggressive protests. against confinement and when he assured that he was not planning to wear a mask. It has sharpened its attacks on the press and Democrats. Last week, in one of the most bizarre episodes of the crisis, he was dispatched with the fact that he is taking hydroxychloroquine, an antimalarial drug advised against by his own government, out of clinical trials and hospital settings for all the risks that it entails. And that he was taking it, without being sick, because until now he has always tested negative for the coronavirus. Days later, the WHO suspended hydroxychloroquine clinical trials as a “precaution”.

In the most serious moment that a President of the United States has faced in several generations, Trump has imbibed himself. For weeks, he ignored the technicians and locked himself in his circle of trust, in which his son-in-law, Jared Kushner, occupies a leading position. The crisis has not served to moderate or rectify his isolationist turn, his visceral rejection of multi-lateral organizations. On the contrary, it has suspended funding from the World Health Organization, which it accuses of acting under the dictates of China, has responded to Beijing’s mismanagement by agitating unsupported theories about the origin of the virus and criticized the lack of foresight. of Europe. Now, emphasize the proximity of a vaccine. Also the Asian giant does it. It is in this race for the vaccine that Washington can regain lost international ground.

The New York disaster

“I will not approve an order to stay home, that scares people … Fear, panic is a bigger problem than the virus.” The governor of New York, Andrew Cuomo, rejected with this forcefulness the confinement measure on March 18 in statements to the podcast Diary of The New York TimesBy the time the United States was celebrating its fifth day under the emergency declaration, vetoes to European travelers had been in effect for more than a week, and the first territories affected by the outbreak, such as California, had already ordered the closure of non-essential businesses. By then, New York State was already the epicenter of the pandemic in the country. Today, it exceeds Spain in deaths, despite having less than half the population.

In the account of the pandemic in the world’s first potential, New York requires a separate chapter, not only because of the volume of the figures – it concentrates one in every three deaths in the entire country – but because it synthesizes, like few others, sins in many nations. : the underestimation of risks, the consequences of a decimated public system, internal political struggles and the subsequent dispersal of blame everywhere. That the Democrat Cuomo has lived in this crisis the maximum historical popularity shows how good communication and the comparison with a national leader like Donald Trump can beautify a management with sound mistakes.


Evolution of the number

of deaths by States

Almost a third of all deaths in the United States have occurred in New York State.

Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

Evolution of the number

of deaths by States

Almost a third of all deaths in the United States have occurred in New York State.

Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

Evolution of the number of deaths by States

Almost a third of all deaths in the United States have occurred in New York State.

Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

Cuomo’s refusal to mandatory confinement also served to amend the plan to his old political enemy, the also Democrat Bill de Blasio, mayor of New York, who had spent several days defending this type of measure. On March 17, all six San Francisco Bay counties had already declared a mandatory quarantine, and by 19 it had been extended to all of California. On the 22nd, Cuomo closed as well. The virus had given signs of life first on the west coast, but in New York cases began to double every two or three days and today it has 10 times more deaths.

There is no calculation of the damage savings that would have been that week of delay. New York City was also hurt by higher population density and a lifestyle that favors contagion, with millions of people crowding public transportation and hanging out in small neighborhood businesses. The covid-19 had begun to arrive in the city during the months of January and February mainly from travelers arriving from Europe, as authorities and reports from scientists published in April have agreed.

Hospitals in the poorest neighborhoods of New York City, who have suffered by far the toughest claws of the coronavirus, struggled to obtain respirators and necessary equipment when they received the news on March 19 that they were losing funds. public. A panel promoted by Cuomo had decided to cut $ 400 million for Medicaid (the health coverage of the disadvantaged) and, despite calls by lawmakers to rectify, went ahead, claiming that it would have the help of the global rescue approved by the U.S. Congress

On March 25, he approved a particularly controversial directive, with which thousands of patients recovering from covid-19 were transferred to nursing homes, the same places that he himself had defined as “fertile ground for the virus.” An Associated Press count indicates that at least 4,500 patients were sent to these centers, where 5,800 deaths have occurred, more than in any other State. The governor reversed the order on May 11.

Trump’s erratic politics and equipment deficit at the national level have also marked the New York crisis. A few days ago, however, when Cuomo was questioned for his own neglect in the early stages of the pandemic, he blamed half the world, including the press: “Governors are not dedicated to global pandemics, but there is an entire national medical community and international yes, “he said, to continue:” Where were all the experts? Where were you The New York Times, The Wall Street Journal? ”.

The Governors War

The pandemic has brought out the federal nature of the United States like few other past crises. Trump has allowed state governors to regain an executive muscle that had been atrophying over decades of presidents’ accumulation of power. Thus, the States have become an unexpected counterweight to the Federal Executive and, as Cuomo said, the governors have been forced to face a devastating global crisis that they never imagined would come within their powers.


Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

Source: John Hopkins University.

THE COUNTRY

The lack of a coordinated and effective federal strategy has led to open battles in the States to obtain medical supplies, each entering its own fate in a crazy global market. “I realized that we would have to set up, in our state emergency operations center, a purchasing office that was going to compete with the world,” said Democrat Gretschen Whitmer, governor of Michigan, after a videoconference with other governors in which the White House instructed them to search for medical supplies on their own. “It’s crazy,” said Washington Governor Democrat Jay Inslee. “It’s like being in World War II and not having the federal government make the boots.”

They have competed with each other and also with the federal Administration itself. Maryland Governor Republican Larry Hogan went on to say he had thousands of diagnostic tests stored “in an undisclosed location,” in part because he did not want the Trump administration to confiscate them. In the midst of the electoral campaign, criticisms have arisen that the federal administration favored those states in republican hands. And this battle waged by each State, without well-defined federal protocols or guidelines, has led to different evaluations of the seriousness of the situation, deficiencies in the count of cases, and even to measures to close internal borders and episodes of aggressiveness of the neighbors of one state against the visitors of others.

In the de-escalation, everyone goes their own way, in many cases ignoring the guidelines published at the federal level, although they have forged alliances to decide the best way to reopen their economies and have built systems to study how to respond to outbreaks and future pandemics. Everything, between pressure from a President Trump in a hurry for the reopening. With elections in November, there is an urgent need to revive an economy that was its main argument for reelection. And encouraging the return to normality from Twitter is easy, when it is the governors who will be responsible for the decisions they make.

Trump has said that his authority as president “is total”, but at the moment of truth he has left the governors with the weight of responsibility. It is they who impose the restrictions and lift them. And in the polls, his responses to the pandemic come out better rated than the president’s. Trump’s attitude, explained White House press secretary Kayleigh McEnany, demonstrates his commitment to federalism. Others believe that it is a strategy to avoid responsibility.