Wednesday, September 23, 2020

200,000

On Feb. 26, President Donald Trump held up pages from the Global Health Security Index, a measure of readiness for health crises, and declared: “The United States is rated No. 1 most prepared.” It was true. The U.S. outranked the 194 other countries in the index. Besides its labs, experts and strategic stockpiles, the U.S. could boast of its disease trackers and plans for rapidly communicating lifesaving information during a crisis. The leadership of the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention was respected for sending help to fight infectious diseases around the globe. But the stealthy coronavirus slipped into the U.S. and spread undetected. Monitoring at airports was loose. Travel bans came too late. Only later did health officials realize the virus could spread before symptoms show up, rendering screening imperfect. The virus swept into nursing homes, which suffered from poor infection control, where it began claiming lives, now numbering more than 78,000. It also exploited inequalities in the United States: Nearly 30 million people in the country are uninsured, and there are stark health differences among racial and ethnic groups. At the same time, gaps in federal leadership led to shortages of testing supplies. Internal warnings to ramp up production of masks were ignored, leaving states to compete for protective gear. Governors led their states in different directions, adding to public confusion. ADVERTISEMENT Trump downplayed the threat early on, advanced unfounded notions about the behavior of the virus, promoted unproven or dangerous treatments, complained that too much testing was making the U.S. look bad, and disdained masks, turning face coverings into a political issue. On April 10, the president predicted the U.S. wouldn’t see 100,000 deaths. That milestone was reached May 27. Nowhere was the lack of leadership seen as more crucial than in testing, a key to breaking the chain of contagion. “We have from the very beginning lacked a national testing strategy,” Nuzzo said. “For reasons I can’t truly fathom we’ve refused to develop one.” Such coordination “should be led out of the White House,” not by each state independently, she said. “We aren’t going to restore our economy until every state has this virus under control.” The real number of dead from the crisis could be significantly higher: As many as 215,000 more people than usual died in the U.S. from all causes during the first seven months of 2020, according to CDC figures. The death toll from COVID-19 during the same period was put at about 150,000 by Johns Hopkins. Researchers suspect some coronavirus deaths were overlooked, while other deaths may have been caused indirectly by the crisis, by creating such turmoil that people with chronic conditions such as diabetes or heart disease were unable or unwilling to get treatment. Dark, the emergency physician at Baylor, said that before the crisis, “people used to look to the United States with a degree of reverence. For democracy. For our moral leadership in the world. Supporting science and using technology to travel to the moon.” “Instead,” he said, “what’s really been exposed is how anti-science we’ve become.” from Boston.com: ‘Unfathomable’: U.S. death toll from the coronavirus hits 200,000. https://www.boston.com/news/coronavirus/2020/09/22/unfathomable-u-s-death-toll-from-the-coronavirus-hits-200000

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