For instance, when we hear that the number of deaths in the United States from COVID-19 went up today from 142,356 to 142,941 it registers as a tragic increase, but not something that makes headline news. Similarly, when after eight months that happens every day, and the increase each day reaches around 2,000 deaths, hearing that the number of deaths from the coronavirus in the U.S. increased from 214,183 to 216,274, that daily number of 2,000 deaths is what most leaps out, more probably than than the total -- because it's was over 200,000 national deaths the day before. And the day before. And they day and day and day and day before.
We all know the number of total deaths is ghoulish. Or at least most of us know that. But after a while, we're not only used to hearing that number, but many people probably create a protective buffer from having to hear such things every freaking single day for eight months after month after month after month.
Perspective and memory are important here.
Once upon a time, we were told by Trump and other Republicans that the coronavirus is just like the flu. In fact, for many months, Trump and Republicans still kept repeating it as the number kept climbing. They've pretty much stopped saying that, though that not only doesn't wipe out the deadly con they continually did their best (or worst) trying to flim-flam the country, but the number of deaths kept rising anything, regardless of what they said.
And for the important sake of perspective, it helps to remember that during a normal flu season, about 30,000 to 40,000 Americans would die of flu every year. On a rare, disastrous occasion that number would soar. One year, decades ago, there were 60,000 deaths. But generally, it's around 30-40,000 deaths from flu each year. That's tragic. But it's important to remember, because then, when hearing that so far 262,696 Americans have died from COVID-19. And "so far" is the operative term. We're now told that -- given the winter wave that scientists have predicted from the beginning and given how Trump has not only surrendered leadership but is pushing for herd immunity -- it's likely that deaths could reach 400,000 by the time Joe Biden takes office. And it's not like the deaths will stop on January 20, 2021. Deaths should slow drastically once the vaccines are (hopefully) approved and distributed. But that's still eight months off or so until most of the country has been vaccinated.
So, those are the ghoulish numbers to keep mind mind. That a normal flu season has 30-40,000 deaths and we are already at 262,686 deaths from COVID-19, and it's rising at around 2,000 deaths a day and could reach 400,000. I know that most people grasp the magnitude of it all, but not only does a certain level of acceptance creep in, just so people can go on with their lives, but gallingly far too many people still don't accept even the reality of it.
But beyond that perspective, there is another perspective that must be brought into view, and it's that comparing COVID-19 deaths to deaths from the flu was never a valid comparison. Never. During the flu season, the public generally did not wear face masks, people didn't socially distance, people didn't self-isolate at home and only go out for essential services, families didn't reunite to live together for months, businesses didn't have employees work from home as much as possible, people didn't avoid going shopping outside, companies didn't go out of business by the thousands, children didn't stay home from school for weeks at a time -- let alone months, people didn't horde toilet paper, professional sports didn't close down, movie houses didn't close down, stage theaters didn't close down, people shook hands hello, people hugged goodbye, people went on first dates and kissed and on and on and on. Rather, during a normal flu season...life went on as normal.
That has to be repeated. During a normal flu, life went on as normal. There is nothing normal about life during the coronavirus pandemic.
And so, with people wearing face masks, and social distancing, and self-isolating, and families reuniting to live together, and working from home, and going to school from home, and not going to restaurants and shopping and movies and plays and sports events and all the rest, no shaking hands, hugging and kissing -- with ALL those protections...deaths went from 30,000 to 262,696. So far.
This is not like the flu. This was never like the flu. This was a deadly infectious pandemic. It's just that the leaders of the Republican Party chose to make it about the flu and make it political. It was never political. It was a deadly infectious pandemic. It was science. It didn't care what you or anyone or even a malignant narcissist thought.
This is not meant to be depressing -- though it certainly is profoundly distressing, and depressing is part of life for the past eight months. Rather, perspective is meant to give a sign post to what we all have been through collectively across the entire world, together, and are still going through so that there can be understanding. If one feels run over by a bulldozer, there's not only a reason for it -- there's a great reason for it. In fact, something would probably be wrong if one didn't feel that way. In fact, taking a step back, tragic and crushing as this has all been, there is a sense of something positive about it, too, at this point -- that we are not only on the verge of been able to survive a pandemic, but also survive the Trump administration aggressive push towards fascism. Though there is work to be done on both fronts so that neither happen again.
And with that perspective, it's important to see, too, that there is light coming. Not just on January 20 with a new administration -- since that only directly impacts the U.S., not nations around the world -- but vaccines. And that perspective makes it important too see, too, how we got here.
This is not about Trump, we know who he is. This is about the elected Republicans in Congress who have enabled him, continue to enable him, continue to downplay any serious need for face masks and social distancing, continue to have leader after leader of their party test positive, have literal blood on their hands and are complicit in it all.
And the perspective makes that more clear than anything.