Yesterday, thousands of unmasked spectators crowded together in Tucson and Prescott, Arizona, to listen to President Trump tell them that the coronavirus is no big deal.
“People are pandemic’d out,” he said. “That’s why it’s so great what your governor has done. He’s opened up your state.” Trump then bragged about his supposed immunity to the virus and said he could “jump into this audience and kiss every man and woman.”
People may be pandemic’d out, but the pandemic doesn’t care. Coronavirus cases are on the rise across the country, and hot spots have cropped up in Kansas and the Dakotas. Meanwhile, most scientists say the United States is unlikely to reach herd immunity anytime soon.
And while Trump may have survived COVID, not everyone is so lucky. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention—the same agency that couldn’t make up its mind about whether the virus is airborne—conceded on Tuesday that 285,000 more people died in the United States between February 1 and September 16 than would have in a typical year. The increased mortality isn’t affecting only the elderly, as Trump would have you think; the excess death rate among 25- to 44-year-olds was 26.5 percent over previous years.
Not every one of these deaths was a direct result of the coronavirus: Some people died of other causes at home because they were afraid to go to the hospital, or because hospitals were so overwhelmed with COVID cases that they couldn’t get the care they needed. Regardless, the country continues to battle a major public health crisis while its president stands at a podium, cracking jokes.
This post was brought to you by the Mother Jones Daily newsletter, which hits inboxes every weekday and is written by Ben Dreyfuss and Abigail Weinberg, and regularly features guest contributions by our much smarter colleagues. Sign up for it here.