If a country’s response to the coronavirus were a race, the United States would not be winning.
In terms of new cases, testing, and mortality rates, the country is on the backfoot. It is not where it needs to be, and it does not hold up in comparison to other major countries.
Take, for instance, the European Union. According to Our World in Data, on the week of July 6, the EU was averaging around 4,000 new coronavirus cases per day. In comparison, the United States, which has 100 million fewer people living in it, had approximately 50,000 new cases a day.
According to The Hill, Dr. Anthony Fauci, while speaking to an online crowd at the National Institutes of Health, had this to say about the EU:
“If you look at the graphs from Europe … the European Union as an entity, [the number of cases] went up and then came down to baseline; now they’re having little blips as you might expect as they try to reopen,” Fauci continued, “[the United States] went up, never came down to baseline, and now we’re surging back up, so it’s a serious situation that we have to address immediately.”
Comparing the United States to the rest of the world, things do not look much better. On July 15, The New York Times ranked the countries with the most confirmed new cases over the last week, adjusting for population. What made The Times’ study interesting was that they considered each state as its own country, arguing that “many states are larger in both landmass and population than some countries.” For example, in 2019, if California were an independent country, it would have had the fifth largest GDP in the world; larger than India’s but smaller than Germany’s.
What The Times found was that, when adjusted for population, the top three “countries” with the most new infections were Arizona, Florida, and South Carolina. In fact, of the top twenty-five “countries” with new cases, fifteen of them were American states and none of them are in Europe.
If there is a positive metric where the United States leads the world, it is the raw number of coronavirus tests it has conducted. The United States has tested more people than any other individual country, though not more than “all major countries combined,” as President Trump has claimed on Twitter. Unfortunately, this fact does not really mean much. It is expected that the country with the most cases would conduct the most tests.
According to Kaiser Health News, there are more helpful metrics to look at when measuring a country’s response to the virus. For example, the number of people tested may not be important, but the percent of the population that was tested is. Additionally, health experts find it more helpful to know what percentage of the coronavirus tests came back positive than to know how many individuals were tested. When viewed from these perspectives, the United States is not doing well compared to the rest of the world.
Finally, in terms of mortality rates, the United States is neither the highest nor the lowest. According to research by John Hopkins University, at a fatality rate of 3.9%, the United States is the ninth highest in the world. This is better than its neighbor to the south; Mexico (at 11.6%, it is the second highest), and its ally across the pond; the United Kingdom (at 15.4%, it has the highest mortality rate in the world). The United States does not have, as the President claimed, the “LOWEST [mortality rate] IN THE WORLD.” That title belongs to Singapore, the sovereign island city-state in Southeast Asia, with a population of about 5.6 million and a mortality rate of 0.1 percent.
Fortunately, though the country may be doing poorly overall, New Hampshire is successfully weathering the storm. Of the twenty-two states setting daily records for the number of new cases, New Hampshire is not one of them. Despite the relative lack of restrictions, New Hampshire has managed to strike a balance between combating the virus and reopening businesses. How the state has fared so well is unclear at this time, though it could have to do with a show of strong central leadership, a population that took the threat of the virus seriously, or a decentralized rural population. The real reason may be a combination of all these factors. Regardless, New Hampshire is doing well, even if the country is not.
What all the statistics coming out do not reveal is when the coronavirus will end. New Hampshire has been spared the horror of the virus that has befallen New York, Boston, and now the Sun Belt. If Granite Staters want this to continue, everyone must do their part. Historians argue that the coronavirus is the biggest global event since the Second World War. Back then, the allies had a saying: “All together, for a single victory.” This mentality, which defeated the Nazis, will defeat the coronavirus, but only if everyone does their part.