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It did not have to be this bad

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This is a really good piece of reporting about the myriad failures of COVID response in the United States, with the most important (although far from only) factor being the counterproductive response/non-response from the top of the federal government. It’s all worth reading, but this is the key point:

Against the odds, some states have managed to keep the virus under control.

Washington State, which recorded 37 of the nation’s first 50 coronavirus deaths, has kept in place a steadily adjusting suite of mitigation measures and now ranks 44th in deaths per capita. If the nation had achieved a rate comparable to Washington’s, about 220,000 fewer people would be dead. Vermont has also been among the states with the fewest deaths, thanks in part to a cautious reopening, significant testing and a mask order.

But a year of political division and uncontrolled coronavirus spread has caught up to most of the country.

And the thing is that Washington’s response wasn’t all that impressive; indoor dining with dubiously enforced capacity standards was permitted for months, for example. And yet it was still far better than the typical state, with huge consequences. The Savvy “nothing really could have been done” take is very clearly wrong; this was a massive failure of policy and policymakers.

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