Point of View Columns

A Half A Million Dead Americans

February 22, 2021

28,222,180-501,091 (number of confirmed COVID-19 cases – the number of dead Americans at the beginning of the day)

When death and devastation becomes ordinary we come closer to an unthinkable abyss of not caring anymore – not caring about anyone or anything – except ourselves. The pandemic itself is certainly devastating – the thought of a half a million dead Americans was inconceivable a year ago. Now we hope that the number does not become one million.

Perhaps one of the worst of 45’s many sins and crimes and depredations was the degrading of human life by ignoring the pandemic, by pretending that it would just go away and finally, as he left Walter Reed Hospital telling Americans to simply not let the pandemic “dominate your life”.

He somehow made it ok to either ignore the deaths all around us or to not care. And by ignoring and not caring what happens to each of our neighbors and friends and family and people that we will never know. How else to explain the politicization of a damn mask? How or why did taking globally accepted steps to protect others and ourselves become an attack on some American concept of freedom.

Freedom which, by the way, is regularly denied to many Black Americans, many indigenous people, many LatinX people, many Asian people and many women of any and all identities. Yet this worship of some ephemeral freedom was enough to let others die, and even allowed dying pandemic patients to deny that the pandemic even existed.

Half a million dead Americans – there are 500,000 people in Atlanta, Sacramento among other American cities (imagine them being devastated) and we sit and wonder how this could have happened. And yet, we are still startled to learn that literally, the worse may be yet to come because the seeds of not caring have been planted too deep and the bitter fruit that will be harvested will be appalling.

Half a million dead Americans.