Just an Interesting Covid-19 Coincidence… or Perhaps Not?

March 25, 2020

As one scans through the list of particularly hard-hit countries from the coronavirus pandemic, a correlation can be observed with targets of President Trump’s scorn.

  • China, the principal object of America’s tariff war, was the location of patient zero, and President Trump has insinuated that China is to blame for the pandemic. China itself has paid a heavy price with over 80k identified Covid-19 cases and almost 3,300 deaths.
  • America under Trump withdrew from the Iran Nuclear Treaty. Iran has since been the object of severe U.S.-enforced economic sanctions. Lo and behold, Iran’s health system was overwhelmed by the pandemic. Many Iranian officials have caught the infection, and the country has reported over 2,000 deaths.
  • Trump and North Korea have experienced a love-hate relationship, and while there is scant information about Covid-19 in North Korea, South Korea had one of the severest early spreads with over 9,000 reported infections.
  • America’s relationship with the European Union has chilled on many fronts during the Trump stewardship, and the coronavirus has taken a heavy toll on common currency members including Italy (almost 70k cases and 6,820 deaths), Spain ( 47.6 cases and 3,434 deaths) and Germany (nearly 33k cases).
  • Trump launched his 2016 presidential campaign with a diatribe against Mexico and has had at times frosty relations with Canadian Prime Minister Trudeau. Trade restraints have been used against those two adjacent neighbors, and the border restraints against the movement of people have been tightened, too. Canada and Mexico have collectively reported over 5.1k cases, and the pace of infection in each is accelerating rapidly.

In addition, when one examines hard-hit states from the virus, one also finds a preponderance of politically blue areas. The epicenter of America’s infection has been the New York metropolitan area. Hillary Clinton carried New York State against Trump in 2016 by a 22.5 percentage point (ppt) margin. Other early hot-spots in the U.S. have been California (won by Clinton in 2016 by 30.1 ppts), Massachusetts (27.2 ppts) and Washington (16.2 ppts).

At a glance, the connection between the spread of a virus and President Trump’s enemy list seems spurious although politically convenient. Causation would seemingly rest onĀ  untested theoretical arguments such as, for instance, economies depressed by trade and economic sanctions becoming so weakened as to make them ill-prepared to handle the extra strain on healthcare of a pandemic. Alternatively, one might attach voodoo powers to the president or the faith-based presumption that he has “God on his side.”

The correlation between pandemic hot spots and the president’s opponents is simply a far-fetched theory. But to play Devil’s Advocate, is it any more far-fetched than Trump’s Javert-like accusation that Barack Obama didn’t meet the constitutional citizenship requirement to be president? Not really and in fact probably less so. And it really seems also less far-fetched than the swift boat people’s unproven insinuations about John Kerry’s military service in Vietnam that dogged the Democratic Party candidate during the 2004 presidential election.

Copyright 2020, Larry Greenberg. All rights reserved. No secondary distribution without express permission.



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