The United States has almost declared that the COVID-19 pandemic is over. The US Centers for Disease Control (CDC) recommended that 230 million Americans, 70 percent of the population, no longer wear masks in most cases, even indoors.
US cities, counties and states have lifted their mask mandates.
Restaurants, malls, movie theaters, and supermarkets have removed face mask and physical distancing requirements. Even school districts have become optional since the end of February. This is despite the fact that more than 55,000 Americans have contracted the disease and nearly 2,000 have died from it and the complications it causes every day through early March.
As the US approaches a million dead from COVID and 80 million sick from this pathogen and its variants, it is clear that whiteness, capitalism, and narcissism have prolonged the pandemic, and terribly so. Two years ago, I predicted that the US would be “failed state” would do the bare minimum to protect ordinary people and sell the idea that, despite the evidence, Americans can lead a “normal life” in the midst of a pandemic. “America’s lack of leadership at home and abroad during this pandemic has been stunning. But the population’s denial of these facts is simply staggering,” I wrote in April 2020. Two years later, this continued lack of leadership is America’s normal dystopia.
Forget federal mandates to mask and apply vaccines. Forget continued support for families living in poverty and unemployment amid yo-yo openings and closings with every surge of COVID-19. And forget easing the pain of health care debt, student loan debt, and rental debt that millions have racked up over the last two years. US business is always in support of corporations and profits first.
This is why President Joe Biden, and President Donald Trump before him, never declared the pandemic a national security threat or federalized the public health crisis that COVID-19 undoubtedly became. Both have been too beholden to corporations to take this step. The result has been 25 months of “me first” responses to the pandemic. There have been endless protests against mask mandates at the local and state levels and endless videos of white Americans violating those mandates. Nearly 80 million Americans have yet to receive a single vaccine, including my own mother, because “they don’t know what’s in this stuff.” Despite the obvious need for community collaboration to protect everyone from death from COVID-19 and its long-term complications, the fundamental belief in individualism is stronger than ever. If American individualism in this pandemic is not the main evidence that the US is a narcissistic nation, then nothing is.
What’s worse is that this narcissism is killing people, especially white Americans, and unnecessarily. All because they believed media reports of highly disproportionate COVID-19 illnesses and deaths among black and brown Americans in early 2020. As author Johnathan Metzl wrote in his Dying of Whiteness, “When politics demands that people resist available health care,” among other spiteful decisions, “this policy is literally asking people to die for their whiteness.” When combined with narcissism, white Americans, in particular, have acted in privileged ways toward the pandemic, ways that have killed tens of thousands and sickened millions in the process.
Pfizer, Moderna and other big pharmaceutical companies in the US and Europe have refused to freely share their vaccine prescriptions with the rest of the world. But sure, let the Americans complain about the new variants when the US, the European Union and the United Nations WHO have not done enough to vaccinate the world against the virus and its possible future variants. Biden asked everyone who watched his recent State of the Union address to celebrate how the United States, out of its own goodness, had “shipped 475 million doses of vaccine to 112 countries, more than any other nation” in the previous year. . Keep in mind that the world’s human population is 7.9 billion. We would need between 16 and 24 billion injections to vaccinate the entire world against COVID-19 and its variants starting today; current figures show around 10 billion injections worldwide, mostly in the world’s wealthiest nations. Another statement of arrogance and unnecessarily navel gazing.
The United States is just two months away from the height of the Omicron surge, when a million people contracted the variant in a single day. However, President Biden, through his State of the Union address, declared a return to pre-pandemic normalcy. “It’s time for Americans to get back to work and to refill our great urban centers,” Biden said. “Our schools are open. Let’s keep it that way. Our children need to be in school,” he said.
Despite his comment, “we will never just accept living with COVID-19”, Biden and the rest of the US have completely contradicted this sentiment. It completely mirrors the US as a whole, where there has never been a total nationwide shutdown with federal mandates to prevent the spread of COVID-19 in 2020. It is an almost total capitulation to the wealthy and corporations, who have kept their fingers crossed that a vaccine or bust strategy would effectively end COVID-19 in the US. It’s a boring response to what America has always been: a country of greedy capitalists who want to return to racist conditions, capable and narcissistic that made the COVID-19 pandemic possible in the first place. They won’t even give us time to mourn our losses.
The last 29 months of COVID around the world are a reflection of profit over people and the rich and white over everyone else. The last 25 months of COVID-19 in the US indicate exactly the same thing, except for the shock and mass protests of people who expect better from their government. Instead, whiteness racism, narcissism, and capitalism will subject more people in the US and around the world to needless death and disability, and continue to make the US a failed nation-state. . It makes early predictions of just “240,000 dead” by early 2022 an absurd lie, a macabre and laughable embarrassment.
The views expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the editorial position of Al Jazeera.