The Editorial Board, USA TODAY
Published 6:27 p.m. ET Aug. 17, 2020 | Updated 6:33 p.m. ET Aug. 17, 2020
Dr. Larry Brilliant, known for his role in helping to eradicate smallpox, says we can defeat COVID-19 — if we can get our wits about us.
Our View: COVID has killed more than the combined U.S. combat deaths of World War I and the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars. Remember that each death is a story prematurely cut short.
Every 80 seconds another American dies of coronavirus, according to a running average from the past week. That’s more than a thousand lives lost every 24 hours, a staggering rate. America’s tally of now more than 170,000 COVID-19 deaths is expressed in various ways: nearly 60 times the loved ones lost on 9/11; more than the combined U.S. combat deaths of World War I and the Korean, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan wars; and more than any other country in the world.
Yet America’s horrific toll from the pandemic too often gets overshadowed amid news of racial discord, hurricanes, wildfires, political party conventions and an endless drumbeat of COVID-related controversies, such as inadequate testing or fears about going back to school.
Behind the death toll
It’s important not to become inured to the mounting toll — to remember that behind each death from the virus is the story of an American life prematurely cut short:
►It is Dar’Yana Dyson, who loved music and dance. At 15 in May, she became the youngest person in the national capital region to succumb to coronavirus.
Funeral for a coronavirus patient in Miami on Aug. 8, 2020. (Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images)
►It is Las Vegas police Lt. Erik Lloyd, who died in July during his 30th year in uniform, leaving behind a wife, two daughters and five grandchildren. Because of his extensive community work, the department characterized his death as in the line of duty.
►It is Michelle Villarreal, a cafeteria manager at Leon Valley Elementary School in Texas. After she died in July, the school issued a statement about her passion for her students, her ever-present smile and how her baking was inspiring.
Survivors suffer long-term symptoms
As calamitous as the deaths have become, many survivors of the disease are suffering from extended misery.
While further scientific study is needed, evidence already seems clear that COVID-19 patients are more prone to blood clots, a dangerous condition that can lead to heart attacks, strokes and pulmonary embolisms. There’s evidence that overwrought immune systems triggered by the virus permanently weaken heart muscles. And people who have suffered symptoms for weeks, or even months, talk about how they can’t hold a thought or idea, a condition doctors have described as a persistent brain fog.
In times of trauma, Americans look for national leadership, yet President Donald Trump has consistently underestimated the severity of the virus and shied away from talking about the mounting toll.
Coronaviruss (Photo: usat)
Some medical experts now predict that U.S. deaths could reach 300,000 by the end of this year. And the true count might already have surpassed 200,000, given the unusually high number of fatalities across the country since the epidemic started.
The United States, with about 4% of the world’s population, has 22% of the world’s deaths from COVID-19. “There’s no way to spin that in a positive light,” Sen. Mitt Romney, R-Utah, observed last Friday.
Over time — with more immunity, better treatments and hopefully vaccines — the awful daily toll will recede. Until then, Americans have an obligation to reject any suggestion that the continuing, shameful carnage is normal or acceptable.
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