The United States is not making progress with the coronavirus — and it is Trump’s fault

Although America is reopening, few states have actually met the criteria to reopen according to the public health experts of COVID Exit Strategy. We are seeing record high numbers of new cases in some states and signs of an overall upward trend in daily cases for the country as a whole. America’s coronavirus situation is getting worse, not better.

Other countries that encountered the new coronavirus at about the same time as the United States have made much more progress than we have. We can see this in the figure below. It is made up of four histograms showing the number of coronavirus cases reported each day in the United States, the United Kingdom, Spain, and Canada. The point here is to look at the overall shape of the graph as if one smoothed out the day-to-day and weekly fluctuations and drew a line along the top of the bars. I approximate what this smoothed average might look like with the hand-drawn red lines. All of the graphs begin at about March 1 and end at June 19 (but the last data were collected on June 20).

Source: John Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center.

While other countries have seen a large decline from their peak number of cases, the United States has not managed to move the number of daily cases very far below the peak. In the United States, the number of cases peaked at a little above 30,000 per day in early April. After a small decline to about 20,000 per day, the daily number of cases appears to be rising back up to the high point seen in April.

In contrast, in the United Kingdom, there has been a slow and steady decline from the peak. In Spain, there was a steep decline from the peak, and the case counts are now at a relatively low level. But unfortunately, the Spanish have not been able to push their case counts to zero. Canada is similar to the United Kingdom in that the number of coronavirus cases are on a slow and steady decline. Not only did the United States never have as much of a reduction from its peak as these other countries, the United States appears to be trending upward in case counts.

It is President Trump’s fault that the United States is failing to get the coronavirus under control. Trump has repeatedly refused to follow the directions provided by medical experts. The New York Times columnist Thomas Friedman asks, “Does [Trump] start each day wondering what expert advice to ignore next?” He has consistently refused to deploy all of the federal government’s resources to combat the virus. Instead of using the reprieve granted to us by the lockdown to prepare for the ongoing battle against the virus, he has wasted it. Instead of being a positive example by doing things like wearing a facemask in public, he has flouted public health recommendations. Americans are suffering because of his continuing failures.

Although the coronavirus fight is going badly in the United States, the word from the Trump administration is, “We are winning the fight against the invisible enemy.” That is a lie, and one that will get even more Americans killed by fostering a completely unwarranted sense of safety.