Op Ed

100,000 Dead. And Still Rising

And it didn’t have to happen.

By - May 31st, 2020 01:27 pm
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The White House. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid [CC BY-SA 3.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/3.0)]

The White House. Photo by AgnosticPreachersKid (CC BY-SA 3.0)

I recall as a teenager reading about the high numbers of battlefield casualties in some of the fighting during the Civil War. Reading for the first time about the piles of bodies at Gettysburg is a memory that sticks with me. Reading of the stench and the burial trenches and trying to process the enormity of it is something that we all came to terms with during our history classes.

I thought of those classes and that battle today as I mowed the lawn. Our nation had officially passed 100,000 deaths as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. We knew this news was coming, and yet it hits hard.

I visited Gettysburg almost 3 years ago to the day. Over 50,000 Americans were killed in those massive battles that went on for days. Over the decades the war, and its causes, have become better understood with many books and lectures. But even as I have lived and watched the COVID-19 crisis (seemingly hour-by-hour) over the past three months it seems harder to grasp why it happened than that war from the 1860s.

The reason for my unsettled feelings about the mass deaths in our nation is that it did not have to happen. We did not have the federal leadership that was interested enough to think ahead of the curve, no president with the mental bandwidth required to create policy, no one in the White House who wanted to handle COVID-19 other than as a mere PR problem.

President Donald Trump has not spoken to the nation about the 100,000 death marker.  We are told by conservatives that to talk of the 100,000 deaths, as the New York Times did with a stark front page, only promotes a “partisan pandemic”.  What a wretched place America finds itself in.

Like so many others I am totally frustrated by what this administration has done to our nation. They want us to accept their sordid behavior by tempering our outrage at the needless deaths of 100,000 of our fellow citizens. And then they offer no attempts at empathy to the nation which needs to have a national hug at this moment.

I often harken back to slices of history to either find a lesson for a current situation or to find some comfort or even a smile. Since Trump did not even try to comfort the nation, let me offer this in a letter from President Abraham Lincoln. My favorite of the actual leaders who have sat in the White House.

One of Lincoln’s dearest friends, William McCullough, was killed during a night charge in Mississippi. His daughter, Fanny, received a letter from Abe. Here is a portion of that letter:

In this sad world of ours, sorrow comes to all; and, to the young, it comes with bitterest agony, because it takes them unawares. The older have learned to ever expect it. I am anxious to afford some alleviation of your present distress. Perfect relief is not possible, except with time. You can not now realize that you will ever feel better. Is not this so? And yet it is a mistake. You are sure to be happy again. To know this, which is certainly true, will make you some less miserable now. I have had experience enough to know what I say; and you need only to believe it, to feel better at once.

The arm of the president around a nation is something that has long been a part of the connection the citizenry has had with its leader in the White House. When there is a complete lack of compassion, empathy, and any sense of normalcy from the holder of the nation’s highest office we then have months like those we have lived through this year. So many days without a leader.

Trump had time to golf, but had no time to address the nation about the mass loss of life of fellow Americans.

Gregory Humphrey writes for the Caffeinated Politics blog.

Categories: Health, Op-Ed, Politics

One thought on “Op Ed: 100,000 Dead. And Still Rising”

  1. TransitRider says:

    Why isn’t Trump using the Defense Production Act to manufacture enough N95 masks for EVERYBODY (not just medical workers). An ample supply of reasonably-priced N95 is the ONLY sure way older people like me (I’m 69) can safely return to large events, like ball games or concerts.

    Other than continuing the lockdown, I see 5 ways this thing can end:

    1) Find a vaccine (but there’s no assurance that’s possible)
    2) Find a treatment (again, no assurance that it’s possible)
    3) Wait for the virus to disappear (very unlikely, despite Trump’s assurances)
    4) Just re-open (and accept widespread sickness and death)
    5) Make enough N95 masks to bring the price down to pre-pandemic levels ($1 to $2 each)

    Options 1, 2, & 3 might not be possible, and, even if possible, might take years.

    Option 4 may not be viable even if we accept a million additional deaths, because tens of millions will get sick and having that many people out of work will cripple the economy. (Exhibit one is the meat packing plants that are repeatedly forced to close despite being ordered by the President to stay open.) And re-opening is not safe as long as 40% of the public refuses to wear a mask in public.

    Without a vaccine or treatment, I will never again patronize a restaurant or bar; I know people who had “mild” (non-hospitalized) COVID who were sub-par for months, and no restaurant meal is worth that risk. But I would consider traveling or attending large events (concerts or ball games) if we could get N95 masks. If I had a mask, I wouldn’t even care too much if the Trumpkins sitting around me were unmasked and coughing.

    I think it’s obscene that Trump would invoke the Defense Production Act to ensure an ample supply of meat but not life-sustaining (and economy-restoring) N95 masks.

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