Back in the old days when people used to travel for fun, you might get an offer to visit a spectacular tropical resort at bargain-basement prices. Those offers always warranted a review of the State Department’s website.
Alongside its spectacular coral reefs and impressive monuments, your visit to Tropicalia might require rabies shots, because the country had no infrastructure for managing the packs of wild dogs that roamed the city at night. You might need hepatitis shots, because that disease’s exotic hep-phabet of strains were poorly controlled by a corrupt and indolent regime.
Take a mosquito net for protection against malaria, dengue, and a collection of unpronounceable illnesses. You probably won’t get them, and they probably won’t kill you, but there’s no treatment. Better safe than infected.
Don’t leave the resort at night, as the police are as likely to rob or kidnap you as the muggers or the bands of roving homeless children. Remain in contact with the embassy for updates on the persistent political unrest which might sweep through the country at any moment. And in the name of all that’s holy, don’t drink the water. Seriously, don’t even brush your teeth with it. Otherwise, have a wonderful vacation.
For a few more dollars a night you could simply visit a country next door, governed by sane leaders, where you wouldn’t need a dozen shots, an extra life-insurance rider, or a visit to a special doctor on your return. Travel to those “exotic” locations was rare and adventurous because those places were poorly governed shitholes, burdened by corrupt leaders more concerned with looting than with the complex and mundane duties of public administration.
In a meeting with Senate leaders back in 2018, President Trump complained about people immigrating here from “shithole countries.” Though his language was impolite and his application of the term predictably racist, we all knew what he was talking about.
With Trump everything is projection. What’s the best way to limit immigration from miserable failed states? If you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em. Now, thanks to your disgusting MAGA uncle and the stunningly corrupt leader he reveres, you live in one of those shithole countries.
Disease is personal. Pandemic is politics. You don’t need a rabies vaccination to visit France. That has nothing whatsoever to do with geography, weather or the temperament of French dogs. You don’t have to worry much about rabies in France because France has a stable, effective government capable of basic public administration. You don’t have to worry much about malaria or tuberculosis when you visit Costa Rica. Cross into Panama or Nicaragua and the risk factors shift. Infectious disease risk is a measure of a country’s political IQ.
How did America, and her new Fascist global peers, Brazil, India and Russia, become the festering hotbeds of C19 infection? A few charts tell the story.
America has the world’s most comically dysfunctional healthcare system. We created a reasonably-priced national single-payer health care system, but only for the people most likely to vote – the elderly. For everyone else, ours is the world’s most wildly exploitative system of medical finance, easily doubling the cost of the world’s next most expensive. We spend vastly more per capita on healthcare than anyone else in the world would tolerate and we get remarkably little for it.
How has the US medical and political system responded to this pandemic? By essentially collapsing into Third World conditions. Our President told an audience of his zombie followers in Arizona last week that he scaled back testing so it would appear we had fewer infections. While aides scrambled to claim it was a joke, the President himself said “I don’t kid” and took very public steps to cut off federal support for testing.
How fast is C19 spreading in the US compared to the rest of the world? COVID-19 may be the last place in our new MAGAWorld where the US remains globally dominant. We’re trailing global titan, Brazil, but we’re still outpacing our other new Fascist friends, India and Russia.
The situation doesn’t get any better by looking at per-capita data.
With the federal government crippled by Republicans, states are struggling to set up their own pandemic response initiatives. This is an approach that can only ever succeed in suppressing the disease, not eradicating it, but differences in effectiveness between better-governed Democratic states and their knuckle-dragging MAGAsphere cousins are already apparent.
This graph of C19’s spread, which breaks New York out from the rest of the country, tells the story of a pandemic that remains in its initial phase. Remove New York from the calculus, and the country at large remains on the same steady upward curve from the beginning, only suppressed by a brief period of lockdowns.
New York vs the rest of the country:
Even within solid blue states, there are differences in pandemic response between areas that supported Trump and the places that have been quicker to respond to facts. San Francisco acted promptly to lock down, and did what they could locally to implement test and trace.
Meanwhile in SoCal, the land of Reagan and Nixon, response and results have been very different. While San Francisco locked down, idiots in SoCal took to the streets to protest the tyranny of mask orders and pandemic restrictions. Orange and San Diego Counties, the Alamo of Republican politics on the West Coast, are festering with disease while San Francisco looks more like Asia.
Perhaps the most interesting C19 graphic in the country right now is a little corner of this map displaying the Rt factor for the disease (it’s rate of infectiousness) by state.
Note fast difference between New Hampshire and its neighbor, Vermont.
The “Live Free or Die” state should perhaps update its motto to the more accurate, “Live Free AND Die.” Across the US now, you can gauge relative local success or failure in managing this pandemic by the degree to which a place is subject to Republican politics. Freedom isn’t free. Neither is stupidity.
Georgia’s nutjob Governor summed up the Republican response to this pandemic in an interview this week, explaining “It’s a virus. It’s going to spread. We’re not going to stop it from happening.” As usual for Republicans, he’s wrong. Only in dysfunctional shithole countries is this pandemic an inevitability. South Korea hasn’t had more than 2 C19 deaths in a day for almost three months. Hong Kong has fewer than 100 active cases. They’ve had a total of 3 deaths since March. Canada reported fewer new C19 cases yesterday (172) than Idaho (283) or Nebraska (178). Alabama alone reported five times more new cases yesterday (977) than Canada.
It may be true that we aren’t going to stop this virus, but that’s only because we’re governed by racists and grifters, elected by religious nuts. Elsewhere in the developed world, people are managing pretty well. They plan to stay that way by keeping us out.
Canada has closed their border to US travelers lacking special exemptions. Canadians are in no hurry to risk having filthy Americans endanger their lives and health. EU countries just announced reopening plans that will exclude dangerous travelers from seething shithole countries like the US and Russia.
There are still a handful of flights available from the US to Europe, but good luck getting a seat on one. They are mostly reserved for officials, medical personnel, and the evacuation of EU citizens to a more settled, civilized and safe world. For the rest of America, “the last plane out” has already departed. We’ve been left to make our way, as best we can, in the shithole country our MAGA brethren deserve.