Sunday, May 15, 2022

The first million

By Vincent Boom-Batz, M.D.
Medical Editor

The front page of The New York Times today looks like this:

Yes, we're number one!  The first country in the world to lose one million people to COVID.  Chalk up another victory for American exceptionalism.

If you wanted to know how many died unnecessarily, you'd have to dig deep – all the way back to NPR's report on Friday's All Things Considered:

So anti-vax drivel, propelled by the Former Loser Grifter and his retinue of whack jobs and hatemongers (a/k/a Fox “News”), led to the preventable deaths of 319,000.  That's a big number.  For comparison, 319,000 equals

  • the number of times Maureen Dowd has rubbished Hillary Clinton over the years, before she figured out that her Electoral College defeat in 2016 had led to the loss of abortion rights.
  • the number of visits by New York Times reporters to rural diners to take the pulse of white male racists since 2016
  • the number of days in Chris Sale's rehab before he starts for the Red Sox.

[They get the drift – Ed.]

And of course that's only a portion of the unnecessary death and suffering.  Although harder to quantify, there's no doubt that failure to mask in indoor spaces has led to thousands of additional deaths, no matter what Times newsletter writers and Atlantic galaxy brains say:

But a growing body of evidence — from laboratory experiments to real world studies conducted around the world — suggests that masking provides benefits in a variety of settings, including schools, scientists agreed.

“You can pick apart any one study,” said Linsey Marr, an aerosol scientist at Virginia Tech. But, she noted, “there’s overwhelming evidence that masking has a beneficial and small effect on reducing transmission in schools.” 

How about trains and planes, when you could be sitting next to a MAGA Typhoid Kevin for anywhere from two to 92 hours, depending on weather and pilot existence?

One study about workplace masking estimated that that mask mandates could have reduced deaths by 47,000 early in the pandemic (before vaccines lowered mortality rates substantially).  47,000 is a lot of people.  For comparison, 47,000 is [You are not doing this again. – Ed.] 

Had the Former Loser Grifter and Republicans in general not mobilized their MAGA idiots against vaccine and mask mandates, the current death toll from COVID would have been somewhere around 600,000, a difference of 400,000 thousand people who would still be living and not mourned and missed by their parents, children, siblings, and friends.

Now 400,000 is a big number. For comparison, 400,000 – [You're fired – Ed.]

Let's review what the world looked like before we could prevent the loss of 400,000 or more of our fellow citizens. As everything prior to say last Tuesday has gone down our collective memory hole, it take some effort to recall the frightening days of spring 2020, when the pandemic so ravaged New York that it could not handle the bodies:

The number of patients hospitalized with the coronavirus in New York State rose on Wednesday by only 200 from the previous day, officials said on Thursday, ...
But...more than 18,000 ailing patients — nearly equal to the capacity of Madison Square Garden — were still packed into New York’s hospitals, and the daily death toll was near 800 for the second day in a row, bringing the state’s total fatalities to more than 7,000....

NYC Spring 2020: the sirens never stopped

There are now so many people dying in private homes that soldiers and members of the National Guard have started to haul the bodies out in rented vans.

On Wednesday night, the New York City Medical Reserve Corps sent out an email calling for “strong, willing” volunteers to serve as “body handlers” to tag and store dead bodies in refrigerated trailers. On Thursday morning, Mr. Cuomo [Who? – Ed.] said he would authorize out-of-state funeral directors to practice in New York to alleviate the burden on their overworked colleagues.

And while New York was crushed by a tsunami of COVID disease and death that at the time had no cure or effective vaccine, here's how the Republican Tangerine-Faced Grifter Administration reacted:

we have entered a bizarre space in which [the Former Loser Grifter] makes concrete claims refuted by objective reality that people can see with their own eyes. We are supposed to wear masks and gloves: They are difficult to find on store shelves. He has claimed that everyone who wants a coronavirus test can get one, a falsehood disprovable in most circumstances by asking for one at a local clinic. He hoped the virus would “miraculously” vanish with warmer weather. It has not.

No masks. Health care workers issued garbage bags instead of real protective gear. Horse dewormer. Those were the days.

And after all that, 74,000,000 of your fellow citizens signed up for another four years of death and denial.

As we said not long ago, despite the current apathy, COVID is very much with us and we're still dying from it.  Yet because a depraved corrupt bigot did not want to smear his greasy orange bronzer when taking off a mask, the Trumpublican Party mobilized against vaccine and mask mandates, and called it...freedom.

We flew from Washington to Boston last week and wore a mask the whole time.  (The flight took about 44 minutes.)  Wearing a mask didn't feel like an unbearable intrusion on liberty to us.

Certainly not compared to the strip search ordeal that all airline passengers “volunteer” for at the TSA checkpoint.  We're still getting patted down or worse because some idiot once tried to set off a bomb in his gattkes that killed 0.0 people?   Why isn't that unbearable tyranny?  

Is it because the Tangerine-Faced Bigot never flies on an airline, so he has no reason to stir up his mouth-breathing followers?  You also won't see Tucker “Where's Mommy” Carlson queuing up in Boarding Group C, so he's not interested either.

Between judicial interference with vaccine and mask mandates, and a political climate in which every simple no-downside public health measure must run a gauntlet of entitled white men demanding to review the data sets underlying for each one, our governments have essentially given up on controlling the further spread of a pandemic that's still taking over 300 lives every single day:

Chart: The New York Times

It's not that COVID mitigation has been “politicized.” It's that Republicans have mobilized against controlling pandemic spread for political advantage.

The first million COVID deaths might have been “unimaginable,” but we can imagine easily the reason for most of the next million deaths. It's Republicans.

The public health lesson is plain: between frustrating reasonable COVID mitigation measures while ensuring that every teenage white supremacist has immediate access to high powered assault weapons and nonstop incitement to use them, the leading cause of preventable death in America is – Republicans.

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