On 26th March, America surpassed China to become the country with the maximum confirmed Covid-19 cases. As on March 30th, America had around 1,42,737 cases of coronavirus and 2,489 confirmed deaths.
In late February there were about 80,000 cases in China and the pandemic had spread to neighbouring and far-off countries like Japan, South Korea, Italy and Spain. In the midst of all this, the US seemed safer. As on February 20, the US had only 15 reported cases, and that too all travel related.
So, what went wrong in this one month?
Practically nothing, yet everything. Allow us to explain. Until the very end of February, US officials had not taken the threat of Covid-19 seriously and were not testing enough to identify infected individuals.
But, when the phase of testing started, there was no going back. On March 1, there were 75 cases. On March 7, this became 435. On March 14, it rose to 2,770. On March 21, the figure went up to 24,192. On March 26th, it crossed China’s mark by crossing 82,404 cases and as of today, the number of cases is close to 1,50,000.
It all began as it usually does, with Trump tweeting.
Trump was in his usual glory when he assured the American people that nothing will happen to them and they don’t need tests. When the pandemic began to manifest itself in China, Trump mocked it off by tweeting that warmer temperatures will hopefully kill the virus.
....he will be successful, especially as the weather starts to warm & the virus hopefully becomes weaker, and then gone. Great discipline is taking place in China, as President Xi strongly leads what will be a very successful operation. We are working closely with China to help!— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) February 7, 2020
All this while, the health officials of the United States requested more testing kits and Trump didn’t pay heed. He said, “We don’t want everybody to take this test, it’s totally unnecessary and this will pass. This will pass through, and we’ll be even stronger for it.”
Not just this he even called the threat of the pandemic as a “hoax” and just in February came up with a rather strange predicted of how the Covid-19 pandemic will end. He said, “One day it’s like a miracle, it will disappear.” Now that miracle has affected around 1,50,000 people in the United States alone.
And it is not the first time as well.
After the H1N5 bird flu scare, the US Agency for International Development began a program called ‘Predict’ to identify and research about the infectious diseases that can spread in the developing world from animals. Investing in this means that scientists can be prepared for any virus, like SARS-CoV-2. George W. Bush initiated the program, Barack Obama continued it, and then last year, Donald Trump shut it down.
This time too, the Trump administration ordered budget cuts and put up strange conditions that made it impossible for the virus to be contained. For example, for someone to be tested they had to have a recent travel history from China or have had been exposed to someone who has tested positive.
This left people who might have travelled from South Korea, Japan, Iran or Italy untested. On top of this, the US only banned travel to and from China, so a lot of people entered the States from many affected countries without being checked.
All is not lost
The fact that the U.S. has become the No.1 in confirmed Coronavirus cases all might not be lost just yet. The United States has still not become the new epicentre of the virus. This is because the U.S. is the third most populated country in the world, this reduces the per capita cases of coronavirus. In Italy, there is one confirmed case of out of every 750 citizens, in the US there is one case for every 4000 residents.
Like every other country, America has to follow the words of WHO’s Director-General, Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus, “To suppress and control the epidemic, countries must isolate, test, treat, and trace.” But America also has to do one more thing. America has to ensure that Donald Trump does not go off by saying, “I don’t take responsibility at all.” when asked about the failed testing methods and ensure he immediately stops comparing his speech with The Bachelors.
“President Trump is a ratings hit. Since reviving the daily White House briefing Mr. Trump and his coronavirus updates have attracted an average audience of 8.5 million on cable news, roughly the viewership of the season finale of ‘The Bachelor.’ Numbers are continuing to rise...— Donald J. Trump (@realDonaldTrump) March 29, 2020