Spain overtook Italy in total coronavirus cases on Saturday, making the country the European infection epicenter.
That, even as the Spanish death toll fell for a second consecutive day. “Only” 809 people died over 24 hours, an improvement from the 850 people who perished the previous day, and the 962 people who died from the virus the day before that.
Spain said it will extend the country’s lockdown (which has angered business leaders) until April 25. The country has seen its services sector decimated, along with the rest of Europe.
“I understand it’s difficult”, Pedro Sanchez said, in a speech. “[But] these are very difficult days”.
Indeed they are. The UK saw another “deadliest day yet”, as 708 people succumbed, taking the total to 4,313.
Sweden, where restrictions on public movement are less draconian, warned that deaths in the country will eventually be in the “thousands”. As Bloomberg notes, “Sweden’s government is preparing to seek extraordinary powers, allowing it to bypass Parliament for certain regulations… suggest[ing] the coalition led by the Social Democrats might be planning to tighten its response to the pandemic”.
German deaths, while still very low comparatively, rose to 1,275 on Saturday.
Obviously, the situation in the US is dire and getting worse by the day. America is experiencing what, based on the evolution of the virus around the world, are the worst two weeks of the epidemic. In New York, more than 500 people died literally overnight.
The state has more than 100,000 infections, and will almost surely pass Italy and Spain sooner rather than later.
The big picture shows that China and Hubei (where the pandemic began) are moving down the list when it comes to total infections and deaths. This underscores both concerns of underreporting and, on the other side of the argument, the notion that the US should attempt to learn from China and South Korea in terms of what worked to flatten the curve.
And yet, it would be next to impossible for Trump to institute the kind of measures Xi put in place in Wuhan without resorting to something that feels like martial law.
Considering the US president isn’t even willing to issue an executive order calling on all holdout governors to announce strict stay-at-home decrees, any kind of sweeping federal effort to enforce a Hubei-like lockdown is a total non-starter.
And speaking of things that aren’t going to happen, you’re not going to see Trump wearing a mask anytime soon, despite the CDC’s recommendation.
“With the masks, it is going to be a voluntary thing”, the president said Friday evening. “You can do it. You don’t have to do it. I am choosing not to do it. It may be good. It is only a recommendation”.
Pressed on the issue, Trump elaborated. “Wearing a face mask as I greet presidents, prime ministers, dictators, kings, queens — I don’t know”, he added.
Just a couple of quick points on that.
First, Trump shouldn’t be “greeting” any “dictators” in the Oval Office, something lawmakers on both sides of the aisle (as well as any number of aides and advisors) have tried to impress upon him for years, to no avail.
Second, Trump stopped receiving foreign dignitaries at least two weeks ago, something The New York Times pointed out on Saturday.
It’s too bad, though. One imagines there’s a big marketing opportunity for MAGA-branded face coverings – especially considering the smashing success Trump had selling $250,000 worth of red plastic straws in 2019.