Coronavirus Update: US vs. the World (abject failure).


I first started blogging about the virus in July in The Virus and the States. Little bitty Mississippi was then just starting to bust out with its HUGE coronavirus explosion.
Now on 9/26/20, Mississippi with less than 3 million citizens, stands at 96,000 infections and over 2,800 deaths, having passed up Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Washington: all states with twice as many people as Mississippi. Wisconsin just recently, has once again passed up Mississippi to take the lead: up to 117,000 infections and adding over 2,000 per day again.

Mississippi is, in microcosm, a good example of the US response versus the rest of the world. I’ll use 4 countries: 2 Asian: Vietnam and South Korea, and Germany, and Canada to compare against the once, proud, technological and scientific, world-leading, powerhouse United States.

Germany, on 9/26/20 is at just over 280,000 cases and 9,400 deaths. Contrast their population of 83 million people, to Vietnam with 96 million, still growing so slowly in cases and deaths as compared to the rest of the world, with just over 1,000 cases and 35 deaths…get real. Not even 50 deaths among 95 million people.

Vietnam implemented mandatory masking on March 15th..well ahead of most countries and all US states, and sad to say, 15 US states still do not have mandatory masking in place, over six months later. Do those 15 Republican governors in charge of the states still holding mandatory masking up, have any staff that might follow the international situation and notice the success other countries have had? If the White House does, you know Trump will ignore and/or pooh-pooh any suggestion drawn from another country. But the States can and do act on their own in lieu of any national policy coming out of the White House. I teach full-time, and have a busy life otherwise, yet I could quickly and easily access all the info on this blogpost in a morning’s work. Surely the staffs of US governors could come across the same info and use it guide their coronavirus response?

A recent report on Vietnam’s early and continuing coronavirus policies can be found HERE. The article is from the Times of India, and it is interesting to read a perspective on coronavirus from the other side of the world commenting on another wholly different country,also on the other side of the world from the US: India observing Vietnam. Such reading gives us here in the US, a little perspective on how advanced, capable, educated, and scientific the rest of the once merely “developing” world can be. Other countries certainly have their own set of problems, but lest you think they are somehow behind the times and not in the same league now in so many ways as the once exceptional US; guess again.

If the US with 4x times the population of Germany (320 million) was like Germany in coronavirus response and results we’d have around 1,000,000 cases (instead of 7 million), and only 36,000 deaths instead of 204,000… over 5 times as many dead than if we had success with the virus comparable to Germany’s.
We fucked up.

More strikingly, comparing us to Vietnam’s response and results (a real outlier in the fight against coronavirus worldwide), if we had emulated Vietnam’s fast and strict response we might only have…wait for it:
4-5,000 CASES (instead of 7 million) and but 150 dead (instead of over 200,000!)

South Korea is at 23,000 cases and 395 deaths—not even 400 hundred dead, is that right?…with a population of 51 million.
If we were doing masking, coronavirus testing, and contact tracing like South Korea has done since the beginning this spring, and had anything like their results, we could be at 120,000 cases, not over 7 million, and around 2,000 dead instead of not 10x, but 100x times that figure: 200,000 and still growing here by 800-1,000 deaths per day.

Lest you think it unfair I compare the US versus communist, one-party Vietnam, with their strict social control and heavy-handed government, or with any Asian country (such as South Korea), whose citizens are more collectivist in their thinking and used to high population densities and giving up some individual freedoms for the good of society as a whole, or with a liberal, progressive, European country like Germany, let’s compare the US coronavirus numbers with our neighbor’s to the north, Canada, having a more comparable citizenry, culture, and government to that of the US.

Canada, with 8 times less people than the US (38 million versus almost 330) has experienced 150,000 cases and 9,200 hundred deaths.
Extrapolating their numbers to ours; if we had the success Canada has had so far the US would have more like 1,200,000 cases (instead of over 7,000,000) and just under 75,000 deaths instead of closing in on 3x that many; over 200,000 and counting. Canada, you might say, has dramatically less population density, and that could be a significant factor for their lower numbers. Yet Mississippi, with its mostly rural population dispersed in a majority of smaller cities and towns, and only 3 million in population, is more comparable to Canadian population density overall, neither having the huge US population centers of NY, LA, Chicago, Detroit, etc. Yet if Mississippi had 10x their current population to make it close to Canada’s 38 million, then ramping up Ole Miss’ numbers they would be at a staggering 960,000 cases (7x times worse than Canada) and 29,000 deaths (over 4x Canada’s dead).

It is hard to ignore what an outlier the US pandemic response and experience is no matter where you turn to compare around the world.
The following chart expands on the above analysis including 2 more European countries (Denmark and Boznia/Herzgovenia) having similar populations to the US states of Arizona and Mississippi.

Country/State________Population(millions)_______Cases______ Deaths
US_______________________328 ____________7,000,000______204,000
Vietnam___________________95_________________1,049_________35
Germany___________________83_______________280,000______9,400
South Korea_______________51________________23,000________395
Canada____________________38______________ 150,000______9,200
Florida___________________21_______________696,000_____13,900
New York__________________20_______________458,000_____33,000
Arizona___________________ 7_______________216,000______5,500
Denmark____________________6_______________26,000_________647
Mississippi________________3_______________96,000_______2,900
Bosnia/Herzgovenia_________3_______________27,000_________800

Our two states with very close to 20 million people each: Florida and New York, having 1/2 to 1/4 the populations of the 4 world countries I detailed above, are anywhere from 2 to 10 times higher in cases and deaths…incredible. Even Arizona and Mississippi with populations more comparable to Denmark and Bosnia/Herzgovenia respectively, have cases and deaths numbering 3-10x larger.

Anywhere you look, the US has done a terrible job with Trump knowingly denying the science which he assimilated and well-understood very early on, blatantly effecting a denying, defiant, and dissembling mis-information campaign for nearly 8 months now, still not having a national masking mandate like Vietnam, less emphasis and roll out of testing and contact tracing than So. Korea, less restrictions and quarantine of visitors than Canada, and lack of of unified government response and info campaign that Germany and most European and Asian countries implemented from the beginning.
Trump’s incompetence and willful disregard for human suffering (evident throughout his 50 year con-man career and his spectacular, repeated, business failures), has cost US citizens so many of their loved ones, and sickened millions more.

Unfortunately, too many Republican Governors are still following the Trump lead. Many have moved forward, almost begrudgingly caving in to the science and reality of the coronavirus pandemic, such as Gov Tate of Mississippi who finally implemented a masking order(suggesting, not mandating masking), late in the summer, when a few other states, and most other countries took the science seriously from the start and kept millions more from getting infected and hundreds of thousands from dying.
Too little, too late. The US remains still far behind the curve of the rest of the world. We have paid for it in tens of thousands of wholly un-necessary deaths, no matter who we compare ourselves to.

The worst part of course, is the huge amount of US infections and deaths was not an accident, due merely to incompetence or failed implementation of good ideas. Trump did it on purpose, and still is, even after his own infection. He understood the science very well back in February, had good advisors on his team, knew we had a PPE shortage and had the authority to command US producers make masks and shields. etc., knew it was airborne and way worse than the flu. And he chose to ignore all the science, turn masking into a political fight, instead of a national policy that would have saved tens of thousands of lives. This wasn’t an accident. Trump is 100% responsible for stopping his advisors, the CDC, the FDA…all the scientists in the government from making the US response as good or better than any other country on the planet. He stopped it all and still does. He is personally responsible for over 200,000 deaths, on the way to 300,000 by the end of the year by most estimates, 1,000 times worse than 9-11.

Anyone can source all the same information I did for this post, from any number of US and International COVID information sites. It is the real deal, not “fake news” despite what Trump or Fox News might say. I’ve been following the worldwide and US COVID data now since late March. If anything, the US figures are lower than reality as we are way behind other countries in testing per person. In addition, some states purposely under-report COVID deaths: if someone had a false negative test and then died of the disease, even if the doctors knew it was COVID, it wont get reported as a COVID death by some state officials since there was no positive test. US infections may be twice as high as reported: we have no national testing program… if we tested as much as So. Korea for example, we might have a clearer picture.

Similarly, despite what you might have heard, deaths due to other causes are not somehow reported as COVID deaths (that IS Fox News bullshit)..it is pretty tough to fake a death certificate with multiple people signing off on it. Also, there’s been some talk that if some-one has underlying conditions and then dies of COVID, then they really didn’t die of COVID, it was the other conditions, so our death figures are too high.
That claim is also ridiculous. Someone who has had heart disease or diabetes for years and those diseases haven’t killed them, is extra vulnerable to the effects of any viral infection, and it is the COVID infection that kills them. It would be like saying if a person got hit by a car and bled to death on the street, they really didn’t die of blood loss because they also had asthma and high blood pressure for years…just more mis-information.

So if anything, US cases and deaths are under-reported, not over-reported.

The great amount of anti-science misinformation out there on COVID in the US is mostly promoted by Trump and his allies. It will be refreshing to get back to any normal Presidency that will follow the science, not promote idiot “miracle cures” or contradict their own advisors.
Remember, all along Trump has led his supporters to claim its all a hoax or that the pandemic isn’t real. When he already knew the real info and had briefings on the terrible pandemics raging in Italy and Iran early on, he made comments that it would just go away, disappear with the warm weather, go from 15 infected to 0, or that “herd mentality (immunity)” would make it just go away….saying this as late as mid-September.
Just think if we could have responded like any number of the other nations, we’d have hundreds of thousands less cases and tens of thousands less dead:

If we had been as strict as Canada: only 75,000 dead instead of over 200,000
If we had been as coherent as Germany: only 36,000 dead ” ” ”
If we had been as vigilant as So. Korea only 2,000 dead ” ” ”
If we had put masking into effect as early as Vietnam: maybe only 100’s dead

It is incredible and appalling at the same time. We could save a lot of lives in 2021 the sooner the US gets back on track.

Get out and vote.

Dump Trump in 2020. You or your neighbors health or life may depend on it.

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