We Are About to Commit Collective Suicide

Please take five seconds to really savor this headline from the Wall Street Journal:

This is literally insane. We’re already at 70,000 deaths. We’ll get close to 130,000 even if we keep every social distancing measure in place and just ride the bell curve down normally. At this point, a projection of 135,000 is pretty much an absolute minimum.

But we’re not going to do that. We’re going to reopen. We’re going to deliberately make the pandemic worse at the urging of our commander-in-chief and then we’ll have to go through all of this stuff all over again. Or else watch the graveyards fill up.

It doesn’t surprise me too much that Donald Trump wants to do this. He lives in his own fantasy world where something—hydroxychloroquine! a vaccine! bleach!—will miraculously come along and make everything better. But how is it that Republican senators are OK with all this? And Republican governors? And Republican House members? And Republican cabinet secretaries? Do they not care? Do they truly think all the experts are wrong? Or what?

Words start to fail me at this point. I wonder what people in other countries think of our descent into collective madness?

And there’s one more thing that’s possibly even more bizarre. A lot of rural red areas want to reopen because “we don’t even have a dozen cases of COVID-19 out here.” That’s what everyone says, of course, and by the time they have a few hundred cases it’s too late to do much about it.

But the fact that these rural areas have very few cases does give them an option that big urban areas don’t have (not yet, anyway): test-and-trace. The whole point of test-and-trace is that you can only do it if the level of infection is low. It’s simply too overwhelming when thousands of cases per day are popping up. But Sutter County here in California? They have a low population and very few coronavirus cases. They could implement test-and-trace if they were given the money and expertise to do it. And then they could reopen safely.

But even though this would make Trump a hero to his base, it’s the one thing he seems unwilling to countenance. Why? Because everyone has been criticizing him for the lack of testing, and that’s a death knell for a narcissist like him. He can never admit that he did anything wrong on the testing front, which logically means he refuses to put any effort behind a better testing regime. We’ll get one eventually, probably through a combination of bureaucratic inertia and state governors taking the reins, but it will take a lot longer than it needs to. And in the meantime tens of thousands of people will die.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

THE BIG PICTURE

You expect the big picture, and it's our job at Mother Jones to give it to you. And right now, so many of the troubles we face are the making not of a virus, but of the quest for profit, political or economic (and not just from the man in the White House who could have offered leadership and comfort but instead gave us bleach).

In "News Is Just Like Waste Management," we unpack what the coronavirus crisis has meant for journalism, including Mother Jones’, and how we can rise to the challenge. If you're able to, this is a critical moment to support our nonprofit journalism with a donation: We've scoured our budget and made the cuts we can without impairing our mission, and we hope to raise $400,000 from our community of online readers to help keep our big reporting projects going because this extraordinary pandemic-plus-election year is no time to pull back.

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