This is an easy calculation. We only have to compare two countries that took opposing paths to combatting the coronavirus.
Both the United States and South Korea identified their first confirmed cases of Covid-19 on January 21st. South Korea has one-fifth as many people as the U.S. It has experienced a total of 300 deaths thanks to the immediate effective steps it took to fight the pandemic. Had the U.S. taken the same rational steps in a timely manner, we could have only experienced a maximum of the same proportionate number of deaths—1,500—or five times as many as South Korea. It is possible that we would have suffered even fewer deaths because South Korea is far more densely populated (1,365 vs. 93 people per square mile, or almost 15 times’ greater density than the U.S.), which enables the virus to spread more easily and affect a larger number of people. Given our population density, it is probable that competent national leadership would have been able to limit our death count to well under 1,500.
Instead, we have 130,000 deaths (as of this writing) and counting. With only four percent of the world’s population, the U.S. accounts for 25 percent of Covid-19 cases (2.5 million+) and 25 percent of global deaths.
Do the math. That means that Trump’s failure of leadership has led to the avoidable death of at least 128,500 Americans who would still be alive had he just done his job. President Moon Jae In of South Korea, a leader who listens to his professional health experts, did not: (1) ignore the pandemic; (2) do nothing for months, (3) hope it would magically disappear, (4) tout discredited miracle drugs, (5) advocate ingesting bleach, (6) propose injecting UV light into our bodies, (7) demand that governors “liberate” their states from mandatory lockdowns, (7) urge citizens to disregard his own administration’s safety guidelines, or (8) declare victory while death and destruction run riot.
Meanwhile, while the South Korean economy is bouncing back nicely, ours is a shambles from which it could take years to recover. What the South Koreans understood that Trump does not is that you have to defeat the virus in order for the economy to regain traction.
The United States should be the world leader when it comes to crisis management, especially when the crisis is international. Instead, we are the distant laggard among the developed nations. Forget about taking the lead in tackling a trans-border catastrophe. The rest of the world now regards America as a failed, pariah state. The European Union, poised to reopen its borders to international travel, expressly bans Americans from visiting because we might be viral super-spreaders.
What we have lost is incalculable.
July 3, 2020