It is Tuesday, October 13, 2020, and as the tenth month of the year nears its halfway point, here’s where we are vis a vis the global pandemic caused by the novel coronavirus known as COVID-19.
As of 9:24 AM Eastern, the COVID-19 Dashboard by the Center for Systems Science and Engineering (CSSE) at Johns Hopkins University (JHU) shows that globally, there are 37,874,833 confirmed cases of COVID-19 infections, 7,805,899 of them in the United States. Of these, 1,081,857 have died in the 189 countries and regions that are sending out COVID-19 data to various agencies, including the World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). In the U.S., 215,089 men, women and children have died from complications caused by the severe acute respiratory syndrome coronavirus 2 (SARS-CoV-2)
As I write this, the outlook regarding a speedy end to the pandemic is rather bleak. With the fall/winter “flu season” on the horizon and “COVID-19 weariness” setting in on both sides of the Atlantic, the number of cases – and deaths – is expected to go up instead of stabilizing – “flattening the curve” – or even going down.
On September 11 – when the U.S. death toll was “only” at 191,000 – Dr. Anthony Fauci, an expert on viruses and epidemics and the go-to authority on COVID-19 – warned that things would get worse, not better, during the fall and winter months.
Per an article on the website for New York City’s ABC affiliate, ABC 7:
Sept. 11 marks exactly six months since the World Health Organization declared a global pandemic. The death toll has topped 191,000 — with 23 states now seeing an increase in cases.
Add to that a grim outlook from the nation’s top infectious disease doctor that this fight is far from over.
“I just think we need to hunker down and get through this fall and winter,” Dr. Anthony Fauci said.
Dr. Fauci cautioned Americans not to underestimate the coronavirus.
“Don’t ever, ever underestimate the potential of the pandemic. And don’t try and look at the rosy side of things,” he warned.
Even more recently, Dr. Fauci, who has come under constant attacks from President Donald Trump and many of his supporters, said the number of U.S. deaths will exceed 400,000 if precautions are not taken.
In an Axios article published on October 7, Rebecca Falconer reports:
NIAID director Anthony Fauci warned during a virtual event hosted by American University Tuesday evening that models show unless necessary precautions are taken for this fall and winter, “we could have 300,000–400,000 COVID-19 deaths” in the U.S.
In that same article, Fauci said that the U.S. is not in a second wave of the coronavirus outbreak.
“We’re facing a resurgence of the wave we began with,” he said, per an American University live tweet from the event. He expects a vaccine to become available by late summer or in the fall of next year.
Unfortunately, with a sitting President who scoffs at such dire predictions and plays upon the weaknesses of human nature and the ethos of American individualism, “COVID weariness” and an unhealthy skepticism about the dangers from SARS-CoV-2, I fear that fewer and fewer Americans are willing to follow Fauci’s advice to “hunker down and get through this fall and winter.”
Trump’s leadership – or lack thereof – during this public health crisis has been appallingly incoherent and ineffective. He has both downplayed the seriousness of the pandemic – even after being infected and hospitalized – and attacked the nation’s top virologist and his predictions on a regular basis.
Per Trump criticizes Fauci amid disagreement over campaign ad, published today on The Hill:
President Trump on Tuesday mocked the top U.S. infectious diseases expert Anthony Fauci, suggesting his “prognostications” about the coronavirus have been inaccurate amid a standoff between the doctor and the president’s reelection campaign.
“Actually, Tony’s pitching arm is far more accurate than his prognostications,” Trump tweeted, referencing Fauci’s wild first pitch at the Washington Nationals season opener in July.
In the same Tweet cited by The Hill, Trump cast further doubt on the effectiveness of social distancing, mask-wearing, and business closures (i.e. “lockdowns”):
WHO no longer likes Lockdowns – just came out against. Trump was right. We saved 2,000,000 USA lives!!!
As Election Day gets closer and closer, Americans are being told by the President of the United States from his bully pulpit that medical experts don’t matter, that COVID-19 is not as scary as the “lamestream media and liberals” make it out to be, and that the Trump Administration has saved millions of lives through its handling of the pandemic.
You know what? In the face of a mountain of evidence to the contrary, millions of his Make America Great Again fanbase believe that nonsense.
And, frankly, I find that both scary and depressing.