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American Carnage

Summary:
Throughout Donald Trump's presidency, it has been obvious that the American political system and public sphere are broken. But only with the federal government's embarrassingly incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic has that breakdown translated into a significant loss of life. BERKELEY – On April 23, 2020, the United States crossed the threshold of 50,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, making it the world’s worst-hit region. The US has half the population of continental Europe, but three-quarters as many daily deaths. How Will the Great Cessation End? PS OnPoint Olivier Douliery/AFP via Getty Images

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Throughout Donald Trump's presidency, it has been obvious that the American political system and public sphere are broken. But only with the federal government's embarrassingly incompetent response to the COVID-19 pandemic has that breakdown translated into a significant loss of life.

BERKELEY – On April 23, 2020, the United States crossed the threshold of 50,000 confirmed COVID-19 deaths, making it the world’s worst-hit region. The US has half the population of continental Europe, but three-quarters as many daily deaths.

I am not an epidemiologist. But if I had to guess, I would say that after correcting for undercounting, the true number of US deaths that can be attributed to the coronavirus is closer to 75,000. Meanwhile, other countries have managed to put the daily number of new cases on a downward trajectory. If they keep it up, within a few months, they will reach the point where they can keep the virus more or less contained through vigilant testing, contact tracing, and isolation measures.

As of April 28, the daily COVID-19 death toll in Italy and Spain had fallen from above 700 to around 350. Germany, Canada, and Turkey appear to be turning the corner, with less than 200 deaths per day. Ireland’s daily toll looks unlikely to exceed 60 for now. Japan is at around 20 per day, Austria is at 12, and Denmark is at 10. Countries with single-digit daily death tolls include Norway and Greece (four), Australia (three), and New Zealand and South Korea. And no one is dying in Hong Kong.

As for the US, new confirmed cases per day have remained at around 30,000 for three weeks now, while COVID-19 tests administered per day have hovered at around 150,000 (with roughly 20% consistently coming back positive). The US thus appears to have stopped the epidemic’s acceleration within its borders: the average number...

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