The US Is Still Exceptional — but Now for Its Incompetence
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When a crisis hits the United States, the country’s general instinct is to rally around the flag and wish the best for its leaders. That’s probably why President Trump has seen his approval ratings rise, even though he has had a delayed and fitful approach to this pandemic. But at some point, we Americans must look at the facts and recognize an uncomfortable reality. The United States is on track to have the worst outbreak of coronavirus among wealthy countries, largely because of the ineffectiveness of its government. This is the new face of American exceptionalism.
The United States now has the highest number of cases of covid-19 in the world, outstripping both China and Italy. The first line of defense against the disease is testing. On this key metric, the U.S. experience has been a fiasco: We started late, using a faulty test, and never quite recovered.
Trump’s claim that “anybody that wants a test can get a test” is a cruel hoax. Access to tests remains much worse than in most advanced countries. His assertion that the United States has tested more people than South Korea is nonsense because it doesn’t take into account that South Korea has less than one-sixth America’s population. Per capita, South Korea has done five times more testing than the United States, as of Wednesday. But forget about South Korea. Italy, a country not known for the smooth workings of its government, has tested four times as many per capita as the United States.
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