Mass Death By Public Policy: We Are All Grieving

A photo made up of the images of health care workers who have died on the front lines of COVID. Twitter image.

The bodies mount, as do our resident sociopath's murderous lies and feints and deflections, which even thousands of deaths ago one epidemiologist said constitute "genocide by default - what else do you call mass death by public policy?” In the time it took to write this, COVID cases in this country rose another 61,000 to a total of 3.37 million; there were also 482 more deaths totaling over 137,000. This weekend, new coronavirus cases reached record levels, with over 20 states reporting a record-high average and five states - California, Florida, Arizona, Mississippi, Texas, where a Houston paper ran 43 pages of obituaries - breaking records for average daily deaths. On Sunday, Florida broke the national record for the largest single-day increase in coronavirus cases since the start of the pandemic, topping 15,000 new cases, or a rise of 1,237% since the state's ill-advised reopening in May, for a total of 269,811 cases and a daily death rate of about 75 people; if Florida were a country, it would rank fourth in the world for new cases behind the U.S., Brazil and India. Meanwhile, the rate of testing nationwide has remained flat, and Trump has remained in an alternate reality. Last week, he went to Florida's Miami-Dade County, where the state's highest rate of COVID cases hit 28%; despite a mask-wearing mandate, he wore no mask, babbled about several random issues - drug trafficking, socialist regimes in Latin America, imaginary mail-in ballot fraud - and mentioned the virus only to prattle that all these ravaged states are "going to be fine” before going home to pardon his slimy felon bestie Roger Stone, who, yes, probably will be fine amidst the long-term, Trump-fueled carnage.

Maybe because he's virtually missing in action and inept when he appears, disapproval of his bungling of the pandemic has hit a new high of 67%. It's also led to welcome truth-telling from even mainstream media like CNN's Anderson Cooper, who's grown visibly, increasingly furious: See his disbelief at a clip of Trump's demented claim, "We're in a good place," just before a reported 4,000 more deaths. "A good place," says Cooper, shaking his head, all of us. "There's no good place on earth, no decent place, no normal place, where so many people die so needlessly in so few days." Though Cooper charges Trump has no strategy except to "gaslight America again and again and again," Trump is in fact frantically crafting new strategies - ugly, evil, sleazy, criminally irresponsible strategies, but still. This week, as yacht-owning she-monster Betsy DeVos insisted schools re-open because really who'd miss a few thousand children of the little people, news surfaced they're suppressing CDC warnings the move could have catastrophic effects. Trump has also started a smear campaign against the supremely competent, pointedly honest Dr. Fauci, charging he "made a lot of mistakes" by, essentially, relying on scientific data and evolving along with it. Both the Washington Post and NBC News received statements from anonymous White House henchmen claiming they're "concerned about the number of times Dr. Fauci has been wrong on things”; they list a dozen comments by Fauci, albeit with brazenly incomplete quotes and insidiously edited videos, all painstakingly laid out "in the style of a campaign’s opposition research document,” because with so many Americans dying daily, do let's find a new, if heroic, target to blame.

On Saturday, after 3.3 million cases and 137,000 deaths and months of his aides reportedly trying to convince him, Trump finally wore a big-boy mask for a photo-op at Walter Reed Hospital; video captured him lumbering down a hallway flanked by masked military officers presumably meant to make him look serious, not just sulky. On Twitter, many compared his moronic lapdogs' giddy responses - "Badass!...Game on!...Like a boss!" - to proud parents whose difficult toddler finally pooped in the toilet, wondering if he got a Happy Meal afterwards; others posted images of him wearing it wrong - "You had one job today..." and noted that earlier in the day he'd perversely undercut his own public health message. Here, too, grifters had to grift: His team posted photos of themselves wearing newly-minted-prolly-in China "Make America Great Again" masks, evidently not getting the irony of essentially naming themselves the perpetrators of our disaster. One response: "Gotta say, I didn't have Trump-branded plague masks on my apocalypse Bingo card." And always, lest anyone think his moment in the sun and a mask meant he'd learned anything, there was the yawning gulf between responsible reality and delusion. On Monday, fresh from affirming his stable genius cred, Trump promptly leapt off the deep end again, re-tweeting a deranged claim from the 79-year-old former host of "Love Connection" and "Wheel of Fortune" that "everyone is lying" about the hoax of coronavirus - aka, "Washed up conspiracy theorist game show host is retweeted by washed up conspiracy theorist game show host turned genocidal gaslighting ghoul squatting in the White House." Also: "135,000 dead Americans strongly, but silently, disagree with you."

The hard truth: Trump's abject failure on the pandemic, coupled with the subsequent failure of "an ineducable country" to learn from it, has doomed us to a long, tough road back. Nowhere are the horrors upon us more brutally clear than among besieged medical workers, many of whom have written eloquently on "the suffering of both the living and the dead." Describing the virus as "the bodily manifestations of inequality" in this country, a young doctor at New York's Bellevue Hospital finds herself not wanting to be "soothed so much as believed...longing for the horror and devastation of this crisis to be seen and acknowledged for what it really is." Like her time working with AIDS, she now seeks both to embrace the lives of her patients as human beings and remember the dead - "to sit in the darkness and tend to the sorrow." A hospice nurse - "the last stop on the front lines" - likewise recounts seeing countless people die: "I have listened to the sound that breath makes when it struggles in and out of a person's dying body because their airways are swollen and inflamed...I have watched bodies produce so much fluid it spills out of them, pours out of their mouth and nose...I (have) held phones and tablets up to my dying patients so that their family members (can) share memories of a life well-lived and loved. So they can say I'm sorry...Thank you...Good-bye. I have sat there silently, sweating in my PPE, with tears running down my face, bearing witness to the absolute devastation that is this virus." "I tell you this to try to reach you," she writes. "Because...we are all grieving...I am grieving, too. But I am not your fucking hero." And wear a fucking mask.

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