Joseph Stalin, a connoisseur of death and dying, was known (perhaps apocryphally) to have said, “The death of one man is a tragedy, the death of millions is a statistic.” The meaning was clear: At a certain point, a people can become numb to carnage. This week, America passed 150,000 dead from COVID-19, a disease caused by a virus that arrived on these shores in February. President Trump rarely mentions the number as he pushes businesses and schools to reopen, and as he continues, after seeming responsible for a split second, to set a poor example on mask-wearing.
Speaking of tragedies and statistics, perhaps one death might focus Trump’s mind, and if not that, the nation’s: Businessman and former presidential candidate Herman Cain succumbed to the coronavirus on Thursday. A 74-year-old African-American, he was demographically in the fatality sweet-spot. Yet when Trump defiantly and against the advice of public health experts held a crowded indoor political rally on June 20 in Tulsa, there was Cain in attendance, maskless, smiling, surrounded.
On Wednesday, 1,449 Americans died, as COVID deaths soar once again after dipping to 212 on July 5.
If deaths were to average 1,000 per day through the remaining 154 days of 2020, America will soar past 300,000 dead. It didn’t have to be, and still doesn’t have to be. Not with lockdowns and true leadership at the federal and state level to truly extinguish what Trump calls embers and fire rather than relighting it over and over and over again.
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