Science versus magical thinking

To the Editor:

Facts matter:

— Fact No. 1: The United States has a mere 4.24 percent of the world’s population of 7.8 billion people

— Fact No. 2: The U.S. has over 26 percent of the world’s COVID-19 cases and nearly 24 percent of the world’s deaths from this dreaded virus;

— Fact No. 3: With 143, 321 deaths as of July 20, and climbing by the minute, no other country comes close to the U.S. death count in absolute numbers. Second-place Brazil has 79, 535 coronavirus deaths.

Why is this public health disaster unfolding in one of the most scientifically advanced and medically sophisticated countries in the world?

With many months of advance notice and opportunity to prepare for the pandemic, President Donald Trump has failed miserably as a leader. His dangerous disregard, if not contempt, for factual realities and scientific expertise has put our citizens’ health in jeopardy, stressed our hospitals and health-care workers to the breaking point, and sent the economy into a tailspin.

Trump claims, falsely, that the U.S. has one of the lowest proportional COVID-19 death rates in the world. The opposite is true. With 433 coronavirus deaths per million people, the U.S. has the ninth highest proportional death rate out of 215 countries. This means that 206 countries have lower death rates than America, and many of those are significantly lower.

Trump’s failure in handling the pandemic is beyond dereliction of duty. It is a perverse, reckless defiance of medical science and public-health expertise. With his brazenly maskless political rallies and undermining of Dr. Anthony Fauci and weakening of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, Trump is giving a green light to indulge in risky behaviors, thereby turning a bad pandemic into something catastrophic.

With Trump’s poll numbers in decline, I fear that this vain and spiteful man now seeks to punish a country that has been more than good to him. A fan of magical thinking, he believes that the virus will “just disappear” or “wash away” or succumb to a stiff drink of bleach.

Trump has become a national embarrassment and international laughing stock. But few are laughing in America as he sets his sights on the Guinness World Records all-time national high score for COVID-19 deaths.

Meanwhile, countries like Costa Rica, Greece, and Taiwan took the pandemic seriously from its onset and have held coronavirus deaths to less than 300 among them. And they are open for business.

Governor Andrew Cuomo’s timely and cautious management of the pandemic in New York State should have been a model for the rest of the country.

Mr. President, the time for ignorance and childish, swaggering defiance is over. Please step aside for an informed, competent leader before you kill us all.

Robert Jarvenpa

East Berne

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