News: 500,000 OFFICIAL COVID-19 Deaths Reached Globally

News I was not looking forward to. (Illustration on the phone screen by me. Yes, I DO love Swiss watercolor pencils, and thanks for trying to give me something more pleasant to write about.)

The Johns Hopkins COVID-19 Mortality Dashboard shows we hit 500,306 a short while ago. Today. This very afternoon. Unfortunately. And this is still an undercount, because it is just the official toll.

Was this preventable? Yes, but: HUMANS. Humans chose to prevent it in some places (I’m STILL looking at you, fantastic and careful South Korea and Taiwan!) yet chose to pretend it would disappear, “like a miracle,” in others, because key leaders haven’t watched enough horror movies about pandemics, in which terrible things happen because no one listens to the scientists who were right all along. (Truth is stupider than fiction.)

It’s strange to live in a country that regionally chose to let a global pandemic run wild. The US is still leading in the sheer volume of cases and deaths (2,510,151 confirmed cases, 125,539 deaths, and a 5% fatality rate at this moment according to the Johns Hopkins Mortality Analysis page).

I may be living in a region that set the first quarantines in the country, and benefit from excellent regional coordination of precautions, but that hasn’t spared my large state from being one of many places where videos of white women ranting about being forced to wear a mask as part of a political conspiracy keep cropping up. (Link provided to ABC7, so you won’t have to log into Twitter, where I saw that.) And our excellent regional approach won’t spare us if and when people from lax, conspiratorial areas come to visit. Which we are already dreading.

One awkward thing to note about the JH Mortality page is that it is sortable, and you can sort by which countries have the worst outcomes by population size (measured as deaths per 100,000 people). And what is terrifying is that, while the US is a big and CARELESS country without a functional leader, there are other countries that are somehow doing WORSE.

I just can’t find a polite way to discuss this with friends in other poorly-performing countries, though I’ve tried things along the lines of, ‘so sorry that our countries suck at preventing death’ and ‘I’m sorry to report we have surpassed your bad track record in the death percentage reports.’ It isn’t great to discussed shared incompetence in the absence of someone agreeing there is a problem, however, so it feels like a sensitive subject; it also feels like looking at the scaled rate it is a distraction from the US’ position as the worst-hit place, math aside.

I’ll go back to dreading ‘breaking news’ again…

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