Anti-Maskers are taking away our freedoms

In February and March of 2020, we had a chance to crush the novel coronavirus and prevent mass death and suffering from COVID-19. Donald Trump, then President of the United States, had been briefed on the horrific transmissibility and lethality of the virus. He told Bob Woodward weeks later he knew it could kill millions. 

On February 5, 2020, Sen. Chris Murphy shared his grave concern that the White House was not taking the pandemic seriously enough. 

Trump’s pathological obsession with denying the severity of the pandemic led millions to side with Trump against science. Even as tens of thousands lost their lives in the worst viral hotspots, politicians aligned with Trump fought against many or sometimes all public health protections. 

In New Zealand, Australia, South Korea, and Japan, public health standards were clear and universal. Everyone needed to wear masks in public, respect social distancing guidelines, and avoid indoor gatherings, including restaurants and office spaces. A short but decisive nationally coordinated action, with people acting in solidarity, would crush the curve, stop the spread, contain the virus, and effectively end the outbreak.

In the US, Trump and his anti-science allies worked to confuse the public, conceal science-based public health guidance, and sabotage virus containment measures. Even as deaths skyrocketed, Trump and his allies lied about the data, lied about the known efficacy of containment measures, and “played down” the transmissibility and lethality of the virus. 

One year after Sen. Murphy warned the Trumpadministration was not readying the nation to face the known threat, 459,361 Americans have lost their lives to COVID-19. We have been losing more than 2,000 people per day for over two months—sometimes more than 4,000 per day. By contrast, the total deaths in four countries that quicklyacted to contain the virus, using masks, social distancing, and temporary shutdowns, are:

  • Australia: 909 deaths. 
  • Japan: 6,372 deaths. 
  • New Zealand: 25 deaths.
  • South Korea: 1,464 deaths. 

The combined population of these four countries is 208 million people, just under 2/3 the population of the US. Combined, they have lost 8,770 lives to COVID-19. If the US response had been as effective, 13,914 would have died, not 459,361. 

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400,000 American lives lost to COVID in 1 year

The first case of COVID-19 in the United States was confirmed on January 21, 2020. Just 2 days shy of one year later, the virus has now killed 400,000 Americans.

While the development of multiple vaccines in less than one year is a major scientific achievement, the pandemic is still getting worse. 

  • Multiple variants of the SARS-CoV-2 virus are actively spreading around the world, with one as much as 70% more transmissible—meaning many times more infections and deaths.
  • Health care systems are reaching capacity, or over capacity. The entire city of Los Angeles has had to begin a triage system for emergency cases.
  • Vaccine distribution is not moving quickly enough to reach population-wide immunity in the first half of 2021, which means lockdowns are expected to continue and economic hardship will deepen.
  • Poverty and hunger are spreading worldwide, with acute hunger (near starvation) doubling to more than 250 million. In the US, food banks are projected to be billions of meals short by mid-year.
  • There are projections the US will see 3,000 and even 4,000 deaths per day in coming weeks, possibly losing 92,000 people in just 3 weeks.

Tonight, on the eve of his inauguration and swearing in as the 46th President of the United States, Joe Biden spoke to the nation from the Lincoln Memorial, looking out over the reflecting pool, lined with 400 lights, one for every 1,000 lives lost over the last year. He was joined by Vice President-elect Kamala Harris, as well as the First Lady and the nation’s first Second Gentleman.

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