The left has been hammering away at President Donald Trump over the U.S. death total, which as of Wednesday stood at 101,392 people. That is about the number of Americans that die each year from drug overdoses and motor vehicle accidents, combined.
The media has latched on to the fact the coronavirus death toll is now in six figures. The latest example was the heated argument that broke out Wednesday morning on CNBC's "Squawk Box" between longtime host Joe Kernen and co-host Andrew Ross Sorkin.
Kernen suggested Sorkin was being overly pessimistic and had "panicked" over the downside threat of the virus to the market.
Sorkin shot back, "You didn't panic about anything! Joseph, 100,000 people died. And all you did was try to help your friend, the president.
"That's what you did every single morning on this show," Sorkin added. "You used and abused your position, Joe."
Kernen replied, "That's totally unfair. I'm trying to help investors keep their cool. Keep their heads. And as it turned out, that's what they should've done.":
As alarming as the big COVID-19 death total now looks – and every death certainly matters – what is notable is how much drastically worse the early projections were, reflecting what could have happened had federal and state governments failed to act.
In mid-March, the respected Imperial College of London model projected that left unchecked the virus would claim 2.2 million American lives.
On NBC's "Meet the Press," Dr. Anthony Fauci, the nation's No. 1 infectious diseases expert, said it was possible, albeit "unlikely," the United States could lose over 1.5 million people to the ravages of the virus.
A more conservative estimate was served up by the vaunted Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation (IHME) model at the University of Washington. In late March, it estimated the United States could see between 100,000 and 240,000 deaths by August.
As of Wednesday, that IHME model, which has been repeatedly revised, was projecting the United States would see approximately 132,000 deaths from the virus through Aug. 4.
To help put the coronavirus death toll in some context, about 84,000 Americans die of complications from diabetes each year, and 121,000 lose their lives to Alzheimer's. Of course, those are annual numbers and the United States is only about half way through 2020.
Bay Area biotech expert John Chan, a Stanford chemistry Ph.D, has been active in the life-sciences industry since 2000. He tells Newsmax the Trump administration "did a very good job in mobilizing the resources of America" to counter the pandemic. He adds, ongoing lockdowns are counterproductive and not based on good science.
The most telling numbers might be the U.S. coronavirus-related deaths compared to Europe's. While the United States has accounted for about 28% of global virus deaths, Europe has recorded 48%. This is despite the fact the U.S. population equals that of the seven most populous European Union nations combined.
The global coronavirus death toll as of Wednesday was 355,956, although many experts say that number almost certainly undercounts the actual deaths caused by the disease.
European states share a significant association with the virus cases in the United States. New York City, the epicenter of the crisis and the U.S. city with the highest death rate, saw most of its cases come from infected travelers from Europe, not China.
Emergency care physician Dr. Peter H. Hibberd told Newsmax on Wednesday that Trump's rapid response on multiple fronts, including his Jan. 31 decision to shut down air travel from China, kept the pandemic from spiraling out of control in the United States.
"He has at this point in time saved many, many lives," Hibberd said, adding, "It's all very well to go retrospective."
The day after Trump announced the travel ban, Biden blasted what he called Trump's "hysterical xenophobia and fear mongering."
Members of the administration's coronavirus task force have repeatedly praised Trump's decision on travel from China.
Vice President Mike Pence told Fox News' Sean Hannity, "The reality is that because of the actions that President Trump took . . . ending travel, closing our borders to people coming in from China establishing a quarantine process, setting up a task force – if the president hadn't taken those unprecedented steps, we'd be in a very different place today."
European states harshly criticized Trump for closing air traffic from China.
Trump delayed travel restrictions on Europe until March 11. Three days later, he announced that visitors from the U.K. and Ireland would be included as well.
Beyond the travel ban and formation of the coronavirus task force led by Vice President Pence, other steps by the administration that some say kept the virus death toll from spiraling even higher include:
Pandemic Preparation – Democrats have charged the administration left the country ill-prepared for the pandemic. But late last year, the Nuclear Threat Initiative, as well as the estimable Johns Hopkins Center for Health Security, ranked the United States the best-prepared nation in the world in pandemic preparedness. While the CDC bungled its early attempts to roll out virus test kits, the National Strategic Stockpile and the U.S. Navy Hospital ships Mercy and Comfort gave the United States a defense-in-depth against the virus that other nations sorely lacked.
Cutting Red Tape – The administration's willingness to let the public try innovative therapies, and its issuance of emergency-use authorizations to help pharmaceutical company bring new products to market, were described as unprecedented. Scores of federal regulations at the FDA and the CDC were waived to facilitate innovation.
Travel Advisory – the State Department declared a global level 4 health alert March 19, advising Americans to avoid all international travel, further reducing the risk of outbreaks in the United States.
Defense Production Act – President Trump invoked the Defense Production Act on March 27, requiring General Motors to manufacture ventilators. Democrats complained he should have acted sooner, but the nation's success in "flattening the curve" averted the healthcare overload seen in Italy and elsewhere. By May, the United States had so many ventilators it was providing thousands of the life-saving devices to other nations.