More than one-quarter of a million Americans have died of a disease that did not exist one year ago. The death toll continues to climb and there is no end in sight.
250,000 is the official death toll (Worldometers reports 256,254 deaths), but it's highly likely the actual current number is well over 300,000. There were nearly 2,000 deaths on Wednesday. New cases have increased by 80% since the beginning of the month; there are about one million new cases being reported every week.
Last week, North Dakota and South Dakota had the #1 and #3 mortality rates in the entire world, respectively. (Kristi Noem, the governor of South Dakota, is considered an up-and-coming Anti-Democracy
As hospitalizations increase across the country (the number of patients has doubled in the last month, now nearly 77,000) and the healthcare system moves closer to its breaking point, the most popular cable news network in the US continues its deadly disinformation campaign, denying scientific facts and mocking and undermining even the most basic public health guidelines.
At the same time, CNN reports "the president is nowhere to be found". Since his resounding defeat in the election was reported by nearly all media, Donald Trump is not even pretending to be president. Forget being a "lame duck". He's a whiny ghost. CNN's Kaitlan Collins reported on Wednesday that Trump is "much more consumed by the state of this election and contesting the results than he is with the pandemic surging across the country".
Of course, Trump has always been more interested in whatever (fill-in-the-blank: golf weekends at taxpayers' expense, public therapy sessions disguised as rallies, insulting (usually female) reporters, ordering lawful protestors to be shot and gassed, watching countless hours of TV, rage-tweeting at 4 AM) than the pandemic. That news in neither new nor surprising. Considering the totality of his contributions would be spewing endless disinformation and lies, if he wants to hide in his bunker watching Fox & OAN for the next two months, that would be the most positive thing he has done for the country in four years.
Overwhelmed hospitals are converting chapels, cafeterias, waiting rooms, hallways, even a parking garage into patient treatment areas. Staff members are desperately calling around to other medical centers in search of open beds. Fatigue and frustration are setting in among front-line workers.
Conditions inside the nation's hospitals are deteriorating by the day as the coronavirus rages across the U.S. at an unrelenting pace . . .
"We are depressed, disheartened and tired to the bone," said Alison Johnson, director of critical care at Johnson City Medical Center in Tennessee, adding that she drives to and from work some days in tears. . . .
Newly confirmed infections per day in the U.S. have exploded more than 80% over the past two weeks to the highest levels on record, with the daily count running at close to 160,000 on average. Cases are on the rise in all 50 states. Deaths are averaging more than 1,155 per day, the highest in months.
The out-of-control surge is leading governors and mayors across the U.S. to grudgingly issue mask mandates, limit the size of private and public gatherings ahead of Thanksgiving, ban indoor restaurant dining, close gyms or restrict the hours and capacity of bars, stores and other businesses.
New York City's school system — the nation's largest, with more than 1 million students — suspended in-person classes Wednesday amid a mounting infection rate . . .
Texas is rushing thousands of additional medical staff to overworked hospitals as the number of hospitalized COVID-19 patients statewide accelerates toward 8,000 for the first time since a deadly summer outbreak.
In the worsening rural Panhandle . . . a dozen people with the virus were waiting in the emergency room for beds to open up Tuesday night . . .
In the Texas border city of El Paso, overwhelmed morgues have begun paying jail inmates $2 an hour to help transport the bodies of virus victims. The crush of patients is forcing the city to send its non-COVID-19 cases to hospitals elsewhere in the state. . . .
Ballad Health system, which is located in the Appalachian mountains . . . has warned that it and its workers are stretched so thin that without a change in course, its hospitals might have to turn patients away. Ballad reported . . . trying to recruit hundreds more nurses.
In Idaho, doctors warned that hospitals have almost reached the point where they need to ration care, unable to treat everyone because there aren't enough beds or staffers to go around.
"Never in my career did I think we would even contemplate the idea of rationing care in the United States of America," said Dr. Jim Souza, chief medical officer for St. Luke's Health System.
In Reno, Nevada, Renown Regional Medical Center began moving some coronavirus patients into its parking garage. . . . The garage unit currently houses 27 patients but at peak capacity will have enough beds to accommodate more than 1,400 . . .
In Kansas, hospitals are converting spaces such as chapels and cafeterias for use by COVID-19 patients . . . In some cases, nurses and doctors in Kansas have been spending up to eight hours looking for a large hospital with an opening in cities as far away as Denver, Omaha or Kansas City.
"The problem with this is, by the time you transfer these patients out they already are very ill at that point," said Kansas nurse practitioner Perry Desbien.
At the same time, patience is wearing thin over the lack of mask wearing that is contributing to the problem in rural areas.
"It kind of feels like we're just, you know, yelling into the abyss," said Cheyanne Seematter, a registered nurse at Stormont Vail. "We keep telling everybody to stay home, wear a mask, that it is actually bad here."
In the last 10 months, some horrible truths about Americans have become much clearer. More US residents have outed themselves as far more racist and far more willing to accept a dictatorship that many people had assumed. Not only do these people desire to exist under the heavy boot of fascism, they are grossly selfish and unimaginably whiny, and are unwilling to change their habits, even if it means saving the lives of their own families and friends. They either deny the change is necessary or they cannot be bothered and they interpret any suggested change as an infringement on their absolute right to do whatever they goddamn want to do whenever and wherever they goddamn want to do it.
When was the last time all Americans had to sacrifice, as a nation, to get through tough times? It couldn't have been any later than World War II, right? That was roughly 75 years ago. In more recent times, when the US decided to invade a country or countries, Americans are urged to go shopping. The US's on-going occupation and destruction of Iraq is the longest "war" in the country's history, by far. What has the average American sacrificed? Not a single thing. Indeed, who even thinks about the endless wars any more?
There is also an ever-present denial that what is happening is truly happening. Even on their deathbeds, some Americans vehemently deny the existence of the virus, insisting they must have contracted some other disease and demanding a cure. Donald Trump told Americans they should not believe their own eyes and ears: what they are seeing and hearing is not what is actually going on. Tens of millions of Americans are living in a Trump Bubble. They consume his every word as if it was oxygen. He has been sent by God and his words are gospel.
Wearing a mask in public or curtailing in-town travel to the absolute essentials has been compared to slavery - by the head of the US Justice Department. That particular form of insanity is quite harmful, even deadly. We have read reports or seen video footage for many months of employees of businesses throughout the US being verbally abused, beaten, and even shot, after politely asking someone to wear a mask. (This is not only an American problem. I was told the other day of an incident in my little, remote Canadian town of 4,200 people: a woman was asked to wear a mask in a public place and she spit on the person making the request.)
In addition to not bothering to pretend to do his job, Trump is, according to Daniel Dale, CNN's indefatigable fact-checker, "barely even bothering to sprinkle in some accurate and arguable claims" in whatever he says. "Basically nothing the president is saying is true. . . . It's almost all false all the time."
I cannot think of any way to combat this virus of ignorance and antipathy. Trumpism is a death-worshipping cult and arguing with a dedicated member of a cult is a complete waste of time. Breaking away and beginning the slow process of accepting reality is something the cult member has to do by herself. And these 78 million cult members seem to be quite happy where they are.