The coronavirus has infected more than 1 million people in the United States and resulted in more deaths in two months than occurred in a decade of war in Vietnam. Even so, encouraged by President Donald Trump and with disregard for scientific experts, 38 of the country’s 50 states, the 38 almost all governed by a Republican, are continuing plans to reopen the economy and leave the quarantine behind.
In Georgia, the first state to do so, they have already opened gyms, barber shops, beauty salons, movies and theaters, while Texas announced the end of social distancing with the reopening of churches, restaurants and shopping malls, an example that has been followed by Florida, Mississippi, Colorado, Oklahoma, Tennessee, Missouri and partially in California, among others.
In contrast, states like New York, Virginia and New Mexico have extended the quarantine or indicated that they will. As a result, a great majority of the population of that country is not just confused, but afraid. Some 78% say they would not sit in a restaurant and 67% won’t even think about going out shopping if it is not for food.
From the beginning, when he said COVID-19 was no more serious than the flu, Trump has tried to take political advantage of a situation that he never saw coming, and that has already caused 70,000 deaths, and left 1.2 million people infected and some 30 million unemployed in the U.S. with an economy so bad that it is similar only to the Great Depression of the 1930s.
This has considerably reduced the chances of the president’s reelection which was based on the prosperity that held until last January, and which, his inner circle says, has left him depressed, angry and frustrated.
The president would like to surprise the world with a vaccine, but in the best scenario, according to scientists, this will take at least a year to 18 months. Or it could be that there will never be a vaccine, as there are none for many other viruses, as Dr. David Nabarro of the World Health Organization has said.
According to The New York Times, Trump arrives in the Oval Office around noon these days and always in a bad mood, because beginning at about five in the morning, he watches television seeking the elegies he thinks he deserves, but hears only criticism not just from the Democrats, but also from some Republicans, about how his administration has handled the crisis. They say he feels isolated in the White House, that he misses golf, his favorite hobby, but mostly he misses the visitors and those who gather frequently to praise him.
During this isolation, the president ordered the suspension of visas, trying to placate the right wing groups who follow him like a sect and who, therefore, have also concluded that the coronavirus was created by the Chinese in a laboratory despite assurances from scientists that the virus originated in animals.
Trump has said that he sees the light at the end of the tunnel, but his optimism is not shared in advanced medical circles where doctors assure that the situation will turn worse before it gets better. One study by the University of Washington predicts that 134,000 Americans could die from COVID-19 by August as a result of lifting the quarantine.
Another study from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention said the number of deaths will reach 3,000 a day by the first of June, and in some places, like the U.S. capital, Mayor Muriel Bowser warns that May will be the worst month. This puts the authorities, from the president on down, in the position of deciding whether to save lives or to save the economy.
The president admitted this week that he is aware there will be deaths, and said finally that COVID-19 is the worst threat to health in the last 100 years. But he said he is convinced that the order to stay home is also damaging, adding that as many people die of other causes, citing drugs and suicide. It is clear therefore, that for Trump, the time has come to declare a victory – one that he hasn’t achieved.