Dear President Trump,
Do you feel it too? That time is super wonky these days? We are about to leave the longest April ever, which followed the longest March ever and precedes what will almost certainly be the longest May ever. This morning feels like it was a week ago.
Over the course of this long, long day 2,201 people died of covid-19 in the US (according to the worldometer, which is showing somewhat higher numbers than the WP, Johns Hopkins, and the CDC, but it’s the one that gives information by country and tabulates deaths per million so it’s the one I usually look at). The last three days have been especially grim.
This isn’t new, news at all, but in looking over the worldometer information by country I’m struck by how well Germany has done relative to the other countries in Europe and relative to us. I was looking to see how another wealthy industrialized country was doing because I wanted to get a sense of about how many excess deaths we have at this point that were likely preventable had you and your administration handled this crisis competently. I didn’t think it was fair to compare us with New Zealand since that’s such a tiny country and it’s an island. I also didn’t think it was fair to compare us with a strict communist country like China since the government has a degree of control over the populace that would never fly here. Also, by all accounts (that I found, anyway), Germany has thus far done a good job mitigating the spread of covid through aggressive testing and tracking and they’ve done a good job intervening early with people who are sick, getting them to hospital before things go very badly, so they seem like the best model for how a competent government of a Western wealthy industrialized country should/could handle this sort of situation.
So I did some math. It’s not Katie Porter-level math – I’m a mere novice when it comes to compelling math-logic, but I’d like to think she’d give me a little nod, even if she had to do it through tears. As of 8:07pm on 4/30/20 the worldometer indicates we have had a total of 63,856 covid-related deaths or 193 deaths per million people. The approximate US census today is 328.2 million people and when you do the following math it’s almost right on:
328.2 x 193 = 63,342
Germany, on the other hand has had a total of 6,623 covid-related deaths and their death rate per million is 79. So doing some more math, we see that if we had responded as competently to covid-19 as Germany did, we would have had far fewer deaths.
328.2 x 79 = 25,928
And doing some more math:
63,342 – 25,928 = 37,414 excess deaths
(or 63,856 – 25,928 = 37,928 excess deaths)
we see some very, very hard numbers.
If these trends, the German trends and our trends, continue over the next several months (i.e., with our deaths per million continue to be over 2.4 times the rate of Germany’s deaths per million) this differential will only look, and be, worse and worse.
It was maybe a month before anyone in the general public knew about covid-19 that I wrote to you about how politics often have life and death implications. I’m not sure which general content area I was highlighting, it could have been one of dozens, but at the time, I had no idea the scale that this basic truism could realistically operate on. No idea whatsoever. But now, on April 30th by my calculations, you and your administration have caused the deaths of at least 37,414 people, deaths that happened because you equivocated, pitted states and municipalities against one another and made governors grovel, failed to marshal the resources of the federal government effectively, minimized, blamed, distracted, and lied.
In short, you’ve weaponized politics and you’ve turned them into a self-own killing machine. Who the f*ck does that?
May we be safe from our POTUS.
May we pause sometimes and sit with just how bad things are.
May we stay strong and take neither health, nor life for granted.
May we accept that our top leadership is utterly failing us.