It's difficult to wrap my head around this one: as of Saturday, more than 200,000 American citizens have died from the Covid-19 virus.
It's a godawful milestone. That number exceeds any other nation's death total on the planet. It's the only number that should matter to us.
To give you some perspective, that's nearly the entire population of Rochester, NY (pop: 206,284 in 2018). Gone. No more. Just take a pencil and erase Rochester from all the maps of upstate New York.
There are other numbers to think about: there were 407,300 American military deaths (from all causes) in World War II. It took nearly four years to reach that total. The 200,000 Covid-dead Americans is almost half the total of our World War II dead, but it's taken us only seven months to get there.
The thing about World War II is that we had strategy and tactics to subdue the enemy. I see no indication of strategy or tactics employed against the virus. It's seemingly spreading mindlessly like a west coast wild fire, because we are letting it do so.
I suspect there will be 250,000 deaths by election day. Because we have no national plan to stop this thing.
I also keep hearing the virus is no worse than the flu (a lingering red herring), but that's hardly true. Last year, there were 34,200 flu-related deaths in the United States. The year before that, there were 61,000, according the to Center for Disease Control.
Our best defense against the virus remains wearing masks, washing hands and social distancing. This is basically all we can do until a vaccine is developed, and depending on who you believe, that vaccine is anywhere from just a few weeks away to a few years.
But there remains resistance, even for something as simple as wearing a mask. The mask has become a politicized symbol and, well, it's killing us. The virus spreads from droplets flying out of our mouths and nose to possibly infect others, and wearing a mask protects others from our droplets landing on them.
The numbers are appalling, and I hate that we seem to be keeping a death count score like we're in some kind of championship game.
But this is no game.
Wear a damn mask.