A Response Ghost-Written by History

Artist Suzanne Brenan Firstenberg visits a COVID memorial she installed in Washington, DC. Nov. 2, 2020. Image: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty
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Artist Suzanne Brenan Firstenberg visits a COVID memorial she installed in Washington, DC. Nov. 2, 2020. Image: Andrew Lichtenstein/Corbis via Getty

40% of the 470,000 lives lost so far to COVID in the US could have been averted—had the country’s death rate been on par with other high-income G7 nations.
 
This was the conclusion of a damning Lancet commission report into the Trump administration’s handling of the crisis.
 
But it’s not all Trump’s fault, the report cautions.

While the administration’s downplaying of the virus proved catastrophic, America’s pandemic response was also bred by past failings. For example: A degraded public health infrastructure that saw public health spending plummet from 3.21% to 2.45% from 2002–2009. In comparison, Canada and the UK both spend twice that percentage, The Guardian reports.
 
The report includes a decades-long perspective of neoliberal policies that intensified the war on drugs and mass incarceration and helped solidify health inequities exacerbated during the Trump administration.

Why look back? “I hope this report pushes those with power to pursue the necessary policies to make this a healthier and happier nation,” said commission member Adam Gaffney of Harvard Medical School.

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