There have been more than 550K American deaths due to COVID-19. If we accept that we were not going to enact a full lockdown of the type New Zealand went into – and the draconian measures they took would never have been accepted here, not when they included things like refusing to let family members return from trips out of the country – we can nonetheless look at other western nations who acted responsibly and compare our fatality rates as a percentage of population.
Let’s not use Australia or South Korea or Japan, all of whom would make us look terrible by comparison. Let’s use a country which had a huge population of COVID-19 anti-maskers and had somewhat open borders: Germany. They have a population of about 88 million, and lost about 77K lives. The US population is about 330 million. So we have about 3.75 times as many people in the US as live in Germany. Take 3.75 times 77K, you have about 289K lives.
Instead, we’ve lost 556K. 556K-289K = 267K. That’s the number of deaths which can reasonably be pinned on President Trump’s actions.
That’s a large number, and it’s often been compared to other horrors, most commonly 9/11 and the Spanish Flu. There’s a starker one I’d like to present.
On August 6, 1945, an atomic bomb was dropped on Hiroshima. On August 9, another hit Nagasaki. They immediately became the symbol of death for the world. Nuclear weapons are so fearsome, and so feared, that sanctions are placed on countries if they are seen to be taking steps to acquire them. Only two such weapons have been used in wartime, and they caused the surrender of an international military power.
The initial strikes on the two cities are estimated to have killed 120 thousand people during the blast, with another 95 thousand dying due to radiation poisoning, starvation, septic injuries and lesser causes.
There can be no doubt that Trump knew of the dangers involved; he repeatedly admitted such to Bob Woodward, during recording sessions the President had requested. It wasn’t simple incompetence, it was intentional mishandling of a crisis that led to the excess deaths, and those deaths greatly outstrip the amount killed by both nuclear strikes on Japan, 267K (by a very lenient estimate) to 215K.
The destruction wreaked by Trump’s ineptitude is quantifiable, and it should be kept in the proper perspective. It’s not simply far worse than 9/11 or the Spanish Flu, and Trump didn’t simply shoot somebody on Fifth Avenue. Trump effectively detonated two atomic bombs on American streets, and that is his legacy.