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OpEdNews Op Eds    H3'ed 5/12/20

The Deathly Tragedy of American Exceptionalism

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From Robert Reich Blog

Donald Trump refuses to wear face mask
Donald Trump refuses to wear face mask
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No other nation has endured as much death from Covid-19 nor nearly as a high a death rate as has the United States.

With 4.25 percent of the world population, America has the tragic distinction of accounting for about 30 percent of pandemic deaths so far.

And it is the only advanced nation where the death rate is still climbing. Three thousand deaths per day are anticipated by June 1st.

No other nation has loosened lock-downs and other social-distancing measures while deaths are increasing, as the U.S. is now doing.

No other advanced nation was as unprepared for the pandemic as was the U.S.

We now know Donald Trump and his administration were told by public health experts in mid-January that immediate action was required to stop the spread of Covid-19. But according to Dr Anthony Fauci, "there was a lot of pushback." Trump didn't act until March 16.

Epidemiologists estimate 90 percent of the deaths in the U.S. from the first wave of Covid-19 might have been prevented had social distancing policies been put into effect two weeks earlier, on March 2.

No nation other than the U.S. has left it to subordinate units of government states and cities to buy ventilators and personal protective equipment. In no other nation have such sub-governments been forced to bid against each another.

In no other nation have experts in public health and emergency preparedness been pushed aside and replaced by political cronies like Trump's son-in-law, Jared Kushner, who in turn has been advised by Trump donors and Fox News celebrities.

In no other advanced nation has Covid-19 forced so many average citizens into poverty so quickly. The Urban Institute reports that more than 30 percent of American adults have had to reduce their spending on food.

Elsewhere around the world, governments are providing generous income support. Not in the U.S.

At best, Americans have received one-time checks for $1,200, about a week's worth of rent, groceries and utilities. Few are collecting unemployment benefits because unemployment offices are overwhelmed with claims.

Congress's "payroll protection plan" has been a mess. Because funds have been distributed through financial institutions, banks have raked off money for themselves and rewarded their favored customers. Of the $350 billion originally intended for small businesses, $243.4 million has gone to large publicly held companies.

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Robert Reich, former U.S. Secretary of Labor and Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley, has a new film, "Inequality for All," to be released September 27. He blogs at www.robertreich.org.

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