Say their names. Remember their lives. Mourn their deaths. And be angry — very angry — that these people — an intensive care nurse, a musician, a doctor, a counselor, a local soccer club coach, a baseball legend, a couple married for 48 years, a son of sharecroppers who made it to the National Football League, the mayor of a North Carolina town, a law professor, a longtime correctional officer and a 19-year-old just starting out in life — have been added to the United States’ mounting death toll from the coronavirus pandemic.
They are among the 50,000 Americans who have died of covid-19 in the past two months, bringing this country’s grim total to 200,000 deaths and accounting for more than one-fifth of the world’s fatalities from the virus. The numbers — 100,000 deaths by May, 150,000 deaths by July and now, just two months later, 200,000 dead and counting — are far higher than those of any other country.
Not that any of that matters to President Trump.
“Nothing more could have been done. Nothing more could have been done,” he told reporter Bob Woodward in August.
Even though the president, as Mr. Woodward has revealed, knew early on (by Jan. 28, to be exact) how dangerous the virus is, he chose to minimize the threat and mislead the American public. He refused to mobilize the large-scale government response that was so clearly needed. That resulted in not enough personal protective equipment for doctors and nurses and other health-care providers, not enough contact tracing, not enough funding for states and cities, and not enough buy-in from citizens about the importance of wearing masks, social distancing and taking other precautions recommended by the federal government’s own medical and scientific experts. That most of the covid-19 deaths in recent months have been in Southern and Sun Belt states can be tied to the disastrous decisions of those states to start reopening in May — at Mr. Trump’s prodding — leading to a spike in cases.
Yet Mr. Trump proclaims, “Nothing more could have been done.” Patricia Edwards died five days after he uttered those fatuous words. She was 62. She had devoted her life to her work as a nurse, and when the pandemic hit, she didn’t pull back but, knowing that her skills were all the more needed, continued to work her overnight shift at a hospital in Greenville, S.C. A week after her death and a day after her children buried her, her mother, Rosa Lee Finch Hellams, 96, died, also from covid-19. Remember her as well, and don’t accept that there is nothing more that can be done. Wear a mask. Social distance. Wash your hands.