The U.S. has far and away the highest number of confirmed coronavirus cases in the world, topping 1.5 million infections, more than the next six largest country outbreaks combined. That is, of course, a bad thing. As a result, the U.S. also leads the world in coronavirus deaths with more than 90,000. No matter where the virus originated or how it first hopscotched across the planet, topping the charts in confirmed cases months later represents a failure of national leadership to protect Americans. Even worse, it’s emblematic of an incoherent federal response that failed to equip Americans with the tools and information to protect themselves. But there’s no number Donald Trump can’t invert, no truth he can’t unwind and repurpose, and on Tuesday the president of the United States did just that, recasting America’s number of coronavirus cases … as a win? “I view it as a badge of honor,” Trump explained. “Really, it’s a badge of honor.” Huh?
“When we have a lot of cases,” Trump continued, “I don’t look at that as a bad thing. I look at that as, in a certain respect, as being a good thing because it means our testing is much better.” So, when you really think about it, what we’re actually doing is winning the pandemic? It’s certainly true that testing for and classification of coronavirus cases varies wildly in countries around the world, due to capacity and interest in sniffing out the pandemic. But Trump recasting a failure to contain the virus as a success in later counting those afflicted by that failure shows how far we’ve careened from reality, empathy, and accountability. At the highest level of American life, we’re currently floating unmoored.
Correction, May 20, 2020: This post originally misstated the number of coronavirus cases in the U.S. There are currently more than 1.5 million confirmed cases, not 1.5 cases.
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